Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Robert E. Howard Did More Than Just Create Conan

A worthy read…

Read at Joe's

rehfence REH in a pensive mood

Today marks the 107th anniversary of the birth of Robert E. Howard, the quintessential American pulp author best-known for creating Conan the Barbarian.

REH, as he known to fans, had an incredibly prolific and all-too-short career lasting from roughly 1929-’36. His powerful, evocative writing has always been an influence on my own writing, almost as much as H.P. Lovecraft. Like Lovecraft, Howard had a talent for painting lush, detailed scenes in only a few evocative words — although literary critics like S.T. Joshi dismissed REH’s prose as “subliterary hackwork that does not even begin to approach genuine literature.”

But, hey, Howard did much more than unleash a barbarian on pop culture. He helped shape modern pop culture by fathering the “sword and sorcery” subgenre of fantasy and contributing to Lovecraft’s horror mythos. Howard came up with a number of other vivid characters…

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Titles

Two thousand words into a four thousand words story that will turn into a six thousand words story, I have a title for the thing but not for the series that this story is part of. This is the sort of problems that writers face, and there’s nothing about it in the handbooks.

There’s a lot of things you need to do when you write that the handbooks don’t cover: finding a title for the story and/or the series, writing a blurb…

The story i s called Weekend in Monaco, like one of the Rippingtons songs I’ve been playing in the background while writing. The fact that the story is set in Monaco is also significant.
This will be the first in a series and the first in a new bold experiment etc etc.
I have the characters, the premise, the action and twelve – count them, twelve! – stories already outlined.
But what do I call the series?
I might in the end just go for the name of the main characters, and call it Gastrell & Molinot.
But I’d like to do something a little more… umph.
Oh, well, first let’s write the stories, and see if they work with the public…


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Team players

January is now halfway through, my health is improving and I am starting work on a number of collaborations.
Which is unusual for me – I’ve always worked best on my own, both in academia and later as a writer. It’s probably because I am not disciplined enough or, as the mantra goes, I am not a good team player.

But let’s talk about it. My record shows I’ve always performed well when working in a team – I could show Hope & Glory as a witness to the fact that I can work on a team all right (the opinion of my long-suffering accomplice, the esteemed Umberto “Beasts & Barbarians” Pignatelli, is not on record). It can be stressful for me, and it forces me out of my habits and comfort zones, but that’s good.

And really, the last time I was accused of not being a good team player it was by a gentleman whose basic proposal was “you write for free, I sell your stories” – on whose team and at what game was I supposed to play?

But anyway, one of the collaborations – the only one I am at liberty of discussing right now – is with my brother Alessandro. After forty-five years, we should have found a way to work together without killing each other.
I hope to have something to show to you by the end of the month–possibly earlier than that to my Patrons.
It will be… interesting.


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Dreamforge

I have just signed a contract for my story Sapiens, that just as I had announced a few days back, will be featured in a magazine later this year. The magazine is called Dreamforge, and it’s my sort of thing.
And, also, is now on Kickstarter.

What I like about Dreamforge is their focusing on the positive. While I like dystopias just as the next guy, I really feel the need for something positive and optimistic. Which does not mean a problem-free world, but a world in which problems can be solved.

Continue reading


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Second submission: flash fiction

I’m well pleased with myself – not only I sent off the second submission of the year (I’ll have to put a counter here somewhere), but it’s a 1000-words flash fiction, a format I am always very uneasy with. I tend to be a long-winded sort of guy. I like long dialogues, and that’s not necessarily the best thing to do in a flash.

One thing I found works just fine is to have a strong idea of the conclusion. I’d go as far as to say that the last line should be the first thing to write, in a flash fiction.

Anyway, the story is now in the hands of the editors – and their judgment will be final. In the meantime, I’ll start working on the next short-short story. It would be nice to have it finished by tonight – 1500 words, no more.


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Something new: the Takeaway Interviews

It’s been now more than one year since I first decided I’d reprise on Karavansara the old cycle of interviews that I had done on my Italian blog, called “Pizza, Chinese or Kebab”. The idea was to interview writers, game designers and other people of a creative bend. Then things got out of hand, as usual, and time passed. But now here we are…

The new series will be called The Takeaway Interviews, and I will try and get involved a few people whose work you can find in English – be it stories or games – and a few artists.

The first interview is being edited, and I have a long list of targets – but if you want to suggest someone, please do in the comments, and I’ll see if I can reach them.