Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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A Halloween reading list

Halloween, Halloween… it’s weird when you find yourself doing more posts about Halloween than you will ever do about, say, Christmas or New Year’s Eve.
It’s like Halloween has become the Web’s main festivity.
A festival of ghosts, spooks and dead people.
Seems fitting.

So, why not suggest a reading list for Halloween?
And considering we are cheapskates, why not a list of free ebooks?

Let’s see… Continue reading


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Re-Discovering Authors

And talking about my exciting life as a writer…
I was talking yesterday with my friend Alex, and we were discussing how there are great authors, very prolific and very active, that we love, but tend to forget.
I guess it happens to you, too,sometimes – you spot a new book by a certain writer,and all of a sudden you recall his other books, the ones you devoured, and liked a lot, and even re-read, and…

How the hell I forgot about this guy?!

And you feel guilty, go on a new buying/reading spree, and then the cycle begins again.
Happens to me every time. I have a long list of authors I am treating like this, but as I can’t remember their names right now, I won’t list them here.
But to give you an example – Gordon Dickson used to work like that for me.
Loved his books. Often forgot to check out for new stuff from him, then “discovered” him again. Continue reading


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Waiting for the Haunting

coverEverybody’s talking about The Haunting of Hill House, the new series on Netflix. I’ve been told it’s quite good, by people I trust, and sooner or later I plan to catch it.
I will let some time go by.
I find a little unnerving the onslaught of those that spent the weekend binging on it, and now are rampaging on the socials.
Beautiful!
Scary!
Wait until you see episode six!
It’s none like the novel!
The finale is great!
He is very good, but she is also very good!
I’m watching episode three a second time!

It’s not a matter of spoilers.
I read the novel, I watched both movies, I have a general idea of what to expect.
But it feels like sitting at dinner in a fine restaurant, and having the guy in front of you telling you how much you’ll enjoy the second course while you are still going through the appetizers. “Be sure to order the salad…”
Please cut me some slack.

And while I wait for the noise to quiet down and for the bingers to go binge and enthuse on something else, I might as well read the original Shirley Jackson novel again.
And in case you are interested, you can get a copy for free, legally, from this link, because the copyright on The Haunting of Hill House expired in Canada.

This is probably the best ghost story ever written, and it’s quite suited for the season.
Check it out.


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Buy a book by Chuck Wendig

51Agi4xoTiL._SY346_I just dropped one buck in the Amazon coin box and got myself a digital copy of Chuck Wendig’s Irregular Creatures.
There’s a number of reasons why I did.

The first is that I have completed a story, and I had promised myself a little treat.
The second is, I like Chuck Wendig’s books, I loved his writing handbooks and I still have a small number of his novels here for when I feel blue.
And of course, third, Irregular Creatures has a winged cat on the cover. That’s my sort of cover.

But the foremost reason why I spent some money on a Chuck Wendig book is, Chuck Wendig’s just been fired by Marvel.
You know Marvel, the guys that publish those superhero comics. The guys that make those superhero movies. The guys that fired James Gunn. Those guys. Continue reading


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Fine tuning

I think I mentioned in the past that when I am writing I like to fine-tune my words by reading fine writers and trying to soak up their class.
Because hey, dreaming is free, and no writing handbook is better than a classic.

31mtjAjh+nL._SX344_BO1,204,203,200_Right now I am going through three small booklets one of my followers sent me.
These are the small Penguin Modern Classics pamphlets – 60-pages booklets that collect three short stories of a number of modern authors.
The ones I received are Shirley Jackson, Dorothy Parker and Clarice Lispector.
Three great short-story writers, and three great small collections (the postman folded the package in two, so that all three volumes are creased in the middle, but that’s the delivery guys for you).

1218403I think I’ll look up the series and check out more of these small, inexpensive books.
It’s not the first time Penguin does this sort of format. Back when I was in university they had done a series of miniature books to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Penguin. Sixty small books going for 60 p.
It featured authors like Maugham and Dahl and Elizabeth David and Penelope Lively.
It was great.

And yes, writing a gangster story/noir take on an old faery tale while reading Dorothy Parker does have some weird side effects.
Weird, but positive.


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Karavansara Free Library: Robert Byron

A few days back I asked for opinions about the contents of this blog. I have been asked to do more posts about games, and about travelers and explorers.
And I say, why not?

So here’s a post about a writer and world-traveler I discovered during my second year in university, and he remains a favorite of mine. His books have contributed to fuel my interest for the Silk Road and the adventures and experiences of travelers in the years between the two Wars.
And you can get his books for free, so I think I’ll give you a brief introduction, and then let you enjoy the guy’s writing. Continue reading


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Karavansara Free Library: The Well of the Unicorn

I’m writing a story.
Big deal, you say.
But no, wait, because it’s interesting.
The story is set in some unnamed American town, somewhere in 1948 or maybe 1949. As the story opens, the main character works as a reader for an old lady who’s losing her sight. My character spends three afternoons every week in the old lady’s parlor, reading her aloud from a book.
What book?
The_Well_of_the_UnicornNow, the book is not essential in the story. It’s just a prop, something my character can cling to as the events in her life suddenly start twisting in a whole new direction.
A hardback, then.
A good solid hardback she’ll be able to clutch to her chest like it’s an armor in that single scene right at the beginning.

And so I did a quick check.
I just needed a hardback published in 1948.
And Fletcher Pratt’s The Well of the Unicorn was published in that year.
Bingo.
There is something good, for me, about a young woman reading aloud from The Well of the Unicorn, and then embarking on a life-changing adventure. Continue reading