East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Hope & Glory – Sandokan was here

It’s about time we talked about Sandokan.
Sandokan is a pirate, created by the fevered mind of Italian swashbuckler/adventure writer Emilio Salgari.
Salgari was born in Verona in 1862, the year after the unification of Italy, and died committing seppuku in 1911.
With over 200 books in his catalog, he was a poor man, and he blamed his publishers for his poverty – he probably had his reasons: not only he was a certified best-seller, but he is still one of the 40 most translated authors right now, 107 years after his death.

Emilio_Salgari_ritrattoSalgari was a strange man, that lived most of his life in Turin – where I was born – and the farther East he ever went was the local library. But he was animated by a colossal imagination, that fuelled his stories and hooked thousands of readers. He wrote pirate stories and swashbucklers, westerns, exotic adventure and the occasional Verne-esque science fiction.
Weirdly enough, while Italy was gearing up for its ill-fated and belated Imperial Adventure, Salgari was an anti-imperialist, and a champion of the underdog. His heroes are normally outsiders, outcasts and people that’s been robbed, cheated and betrayed and is coming back for revenge. Pirates, adventurers, swashbucklers all.

I know a few Salgari enthusiast in the English-speaking world, but he’s a big deal in the Latin countries – in Italy, in Spain, in South America.
Pablo Neruda and Gabriel Garcia Marquez were fanboys.
Umberto Eco too. Continue reading


Hope & Glory – a reading list (fiction)

40651289_1844226848964225_7031900626594299904_nAs you can imagine, the next few days will be focused on promoting Hope & Glory, my steampulp game of exotic adventure. I will try to do this while staying true to the themes and purposes of my blog, because I know not everybody’s a roleplayer out there.
And for a change I will talk books.
Yesterday night, with my co-author Umberto Pignatelli and my publisher Gionata Dal Farra, we tried to make a list of influences for Hope & Glory, and the list went on forever.
So, here’s a brief reading list, covering fiction.
I’ll do another post about the non-fiction, later. Continue reading

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An unexpected gift in a tin box

This morning I was waiting for a packet, and I was quite surprised when the delivery man brought me two.
Now I am usually scared as hell of postmen and delivery men in general – they usually bring bills and notices of payments overdue. It’s turning into a sort of Pavlovian obsession: the neighbor’s small nasty dog starts barking like mad, I hear the postman’s Panda car drive to the gate, and start worrying.
But a second package?
Bills and payment injunction don’t come in packets.
And indeed, the unexpected package contained a gift from a friend.
Yes, sometimes I get gifts from my friends.
Which is quite pleasing.

So now I am the proud owner of a Smith-Waite Tarot Deck, Centennial Edition, a beautiful deck of cards that comes in a nifty tin box and is perfect for carrying around. Continue reading

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On Lovecraft’s birthday

1188_128486729706So, it’s H.P. Lovecraft’s birthday.
Back when I started reading HPL this was not the minefield it’s become in recent years.
So now I sit here and I wonder, how would a post in celebration of H.P. Lovecraft’s birthday be perceived?
How would it reflect on me?
Which is simply silly.
So, let’s get this thing going. Continue reading

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P.C. Hodgell on writing

God-Stalk-P.-C.-HodgellI am having a wonderful time reading the God Stalker books by P.C. Hodgell1, and it was ages since I had enjoyed a fantasy series so much. Sprawling is a word that comes to mind, but in a good way.
P.C. Hodgell therefore went straight into my short list of authors whose technique I admire, and whose skills I’d love to emulate.

So, fueled by my fanboy-ish enthusiasm, I did a little search on YouTube, and found these two snippets of interview, that I think I am going to share.
Always interesting, listening to writers talking about their work.
I hope you’ll like ‘em, and maybe check out her books.

  1. in case you are interested, you can get the first four in the series as two hefty paperbacks by Baen books. The covers are nothing to write home about, but you are not buying books for their covers, right? 


Autumn & De Lint

I am longing for Autumn.
I’m a guy for half-seasons, Spring and Autumn are fine with me. Winter is too cold and dark here where I live, and summer is too damn hot and lonesome.
But in Spring and Autumn temperatures are acceptable, and it rains, and the countryside has wonderful colors. And I tend to prefer Autumn because it comes without an extra of hay fever and allergies.


I was thinking about autumn last night as I was writing a scene in which two gypsy wagons cross a hilly country in late September. I knew what I was looking to achieve, but I failed to. Continue reading

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There are two questions that usually pop up during interviews, and they are

  1. Where do you get your ideas?
  2. What authors inspired you to become a writer?

The answer to the first is, of course, Schenectady.
The answer to the second, for me, is a little more complicated – or at least lengthier – because I am convinced that if we are readers – and writers can’t not be readers – then everything we read is a source of inspiration.
This kind of answer usually is interpreted as evasive by interviewers, so I usually have a list of authors I recite like a mantra.

And I thought it might be interesting to write a list, not only of authors, but also of the books by those authors I found inspiring. The books that made me say

THIS! This is what I want to write.

Who knows, maybe you need some reading suggestions for what’s left of summer. Here we go. Continue reading