Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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The Deadly Lady from Madagascar (and other dames)

I am experiencing some technical issues (and a bout of bad health), so I’m not doing much these days. I’m falling behind with my writing and with my post, and everything else. But I was browsing some old paperback art and I happened to spot this picture…

… and I thought, wow, that’s a story I’d like to write.
Turns out this is a Robert Maguire cover for a novel called The Deadly Lady of Madagascar, bt Frank G. Slaughter (nice name for someone writing about deadly ladies) that I will try and find somehow.
If I can’t write it, I can certainly read it.

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Pandora in Krasnojarsk

For my next story, that will be part of the Seven Lives Project, I have put together a handful of pieces, like cards in a solitaire, or pieces of a puzzle. I will start writing the story tomorrow, and work on it for the whole week, and once it’s ready (hoping it’s ready in a week) I will translate it in Italian, and post it to my patrons.
This, at least, is a plan.

But right now, these are all the pieces I have…

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Modesty

Today is Monica Vitti’s 88th birthday, and I decided to celebrate by watching again the 1966 movie Modesty Blaise, based on Peter O’Donnell’s character of the same name.
Now two things I need to make clear: I always loved Monica Vitti, and I always found the Modesty Blaise movie hard to digest.

Monica Vitti

And it is weird, because we are talking a film directed by a giant of British cinema, Joseph Losey, and featuring a cast that includes not only Monica Vitti, but also Terence Stamp, Dirk Bogarde, Harry Andrews and Clive Revill. The problems are others. First, much as Monica Vitti’s voice has always been one of her assets, her accent stops very soon being exotic, and turns out to be just irritating (but that’s just me). Much more important, to me, is the general campiness of the set-up. Now the Modesty Blaise comics and novels were never high literature, but the movie does at time try too hard.

But hey, celebration day, so on we go with Modesty Blaise, 1966.
Or not.

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Anger

Conveying emotions in writing is particularly tricky but also an essential skill if you want to write. The basic rule of thumb should be that you do not declare the emotion of an action or a line of dialogue, because doing it explicitly is not elegant, and the clear mark of the amateur.

“Two sugars and no milk,” she said angrily.

… in other words, is not the best we can do as we write a scene in which an afternoon tea turns into a duel with cake knives.
We need to find a way around it.
This is not, of course, an unbreakable commandment – but as usual when writing, we need to keep an eye out and try to suggest tone and mood tot he readers without telling them.
This is the notorious show-don’t-tell rule, that’s generally abused by first-timers.

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