East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


And then you buy books

Because let’s admit it: you are working on a full-time ghostwriting gig, you’re getting ideas for stories you don’t have the time to write, you keep spotting interesting open calls from high-profile magazines, all of this makes you supremely unhappy, you’re tired as hell… why not go and buy a stack of books you’ll never find the time to read?

Continue reading

Leave a comment

I won’t be a lockdown writer

The bread machine is working just fine, and we’re keeping it going – there’s nothing better than freshly baked bread after so many weeks of dry biscuits and crackers. And yes, as my brother keeps repeating, we should have bought this baby two years ago. So, everything seems to be fine.

And while the bread machine is churning our Sunday loaf, I spent some time browsing my social – try to understand why Amazon thinks I’m French and keeps suggesting books in French, and why Facebook only notifies me posts in Portuguese and Tamil, and ads for 5000-bucks-a-night hotels.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Bread and keyboards

My wonderful ergonomic keyboard is showing its age – two thirds of the keys are worn shiny and the letters are gone, and the space bar gets stuck and all that. So I’ve decided I’ll try and learn to repair computer keyboards, but in the meantime I’ve ordered a new mechanical keyboard taking advantage of the current Black Friday Before Time offers from Amazon.

Now this will sound all sorts of kinky, but there’s a strange sort of anticipation, and pleasure, in unpacking, setting up and breaking in a new keyboard.
Yeah, I know, it sounds weird.
But as a writer, I’ll be spending a lot of time with my keyboard, it will be my working tool – just as my PC and my writing software etc. And more, I’ll be using it physically, actually touching the thing.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Planning ahead

Supplies, check; books to read, check.
Videogames, check.
A new RPG campaign we’re playing over the web? Check.
Writing and translation jobs that will hopefully pay the bills for 2021… check(-ish).

Starting today, and for an unspecified time, I won’t be able to leave the boundaries of my town – orders from the government, because we are in the Red Zone. It’s Lockdown, Season 2 – and it promises more thrills and chills, and in general the plot will slowly but steadily go down the sink. As it happens with sequels.
But you can expect more posts as the situation develops.

And so, as a final essential for this new exile and isolation term, I also enrolled in a number of online courses and events – most of then offered for free by the British Writer’s HQ.
Because I’m always looking for ways to improve my craft – and to pass time here in the sticks, as winter makes the countryside drearier that usual.

One of the things in particular I signed up for is an Advent Calendar-like cycle of exercises, prompts and things.
You can check it out HERE, with all the rest of the nifty stuff the guys and gals at Writers’ HQ are offering.

Let the plague sweep the land. We’re all set.

Leave a comment

First day in isolation

Who am I trying to fool?
I’ve been in isolation in this place since I moved in, in 2009.
I’ve been in severe isolation since my father died, and I started working for the bank, to pay the bills and little else.
I’ve been isolating at home since March, when the pandemic fist hit this country.

One supply run every three weeks, wear a mask, wash your hands with disinfectants, see old friends in Google Hangouts.
But it’s the first time I’m here in isolation actually worrying about my health and, more importantly, about my brother’s health.

I have always tried to apply the Mickey Rivers rule that it’s useless to worry about things I can’t control, and in this specific case, there is nothing I can control.
Everything’s out of our hands.
And it is infuriating to think that those that were supposed to control those things, failed miserably, and probably did not even really try.
They shut down the local hospitals, defunded the public health system, failed to plan ahead a response to a pandemic despite the fact that all previsions said it was not a matter of if, but of when it would happen.

And yet, raging against the incompetent politicians is another useless activity, one that only makes things heavier.

So we stayed at home (big news), and waited.
My brother took a massive nap, and I read a book, watched a movie, and did a first, very light pass on the galleys for my book about turn of the century adventurers.

Tomorrow it will be more of the same.
It’s the weekend, after all.
I might record a new episode of my Radio Karavansara music programme.
What do you say?


What if it’s IT?

I came down with a cold. It’s not unusual – summer is fading into autumn, and the temperatures dropped drastically. Cold wind and pouring rain. A quick jaunt to the baker’s to buy some bread, and catching a cold is the easiest thing in the world.

But then you wake up in the middle of the night, short of breath and with your throat burning, and shivering, and the first thing you think is… damn, what if I caught IT?
And you feel a chill of a different nature, and think you need to get those last payments in before they come to take you away.

And by IT I don’t mean of course the creepy killer clown with the red balloon, but rather the virus that has kept us company all these months.

It’s a cold spike of fear that’s easily dismissed with an aspirin and a warm cup of lemon ginger tea (that apparently is also good for your skin and your hair – see? Health and beauty), but it’s there, like a ghost, to haunt us.

And in the meantime, there’s people in the streets protesting their right to not believe in the virus, proclaiming strange political slogans.
We are really living in interesting times, and that’s really a Chinese curse.

Leave a comment

The best thing to come out of this pandemic

The best thing to come out of this pandemic, for me, has been the opportunity to launch a podcast with my friend Lucy – we decided to do it because we were (and actually still are) in lockdown, with our respective jobs fizzing out, and too much time on our hands.
Why not try something new?

Just imagine, spending about two hours a week chatting with one of your best friends about your favorite – or least favorite – movies.
A lot of those are horror movies – but we have a very broad definition of “horror”.
Basically we do online what we’d normally do going out for a pizza, with one significant difference – I am sitting in the hills of Astigianistan, while my friend Lucy is in Rome, 600 kms away. Hooking up for a bite and a night of movie-talking would be complicated.

Continue reading