East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Where the streets have no name

As I mentioned a few days back, I am working on my (first?) story for the Pro Se Productions “St Germain Project”, in which I will have to give new life to a character that was first and last published in 1938 – if she was actually published at all, because as it was explained to me, the publisher practically died as the first issues of its various magazines were en-route between the printing presses and the newsstands.

So I am working on notes based on what we know, and as it usually happens in these cases, there are a few things we know in high detail, and quite a lot that are necessarily vague.
And some were kept vague by choice – such as, the city in which the action takes place.

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Enough of this

When this whole quarantine/lockdown started, I set out to write a mini-series of short stories, 4 stories in 8 days. It was fun, sort of a show of strength. I wrote and published the first three in less than a week, and then all of a sudden the body count started rising, and we were all locked up at home, and I decided the last of the series could wait.

Meanwhile, over my social networks, everybody tarted publishing post-apocalyptic stories about viruses, pandemics and assorted infections. And I sort of got tired of the game.

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My new project – back from the dead after 82 years

I have just mailed a signed contract and then I’ll start working seriously on the outline of a 10.000-words story that promises to be fun to write, challenging, and might be the start of a series. Which is a nice way to try and dispel the lethargy this lockdown brought about.
What happened was this: Pro Se Productions, a publisher so reckless they even publish my stories (I mentioned Explorer Pulp a few days back, but there’s more), apparently went and licensed forty-two characters that were intended to form the stable of a little-known pulp magazine publisher based in St Louis, Missouri, a fly-by-night publishing company that was born and fizzed out in a matter of a few months, back in ’38. And I say “were intended” because the whole thing was over before it began, transitioning in the blink of an eye from the newsstands to the hazy memory of footnotes in pulp-collectors’ fanzines.

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A tiny snippet of my WIP

That goes to show that I always write about the same things, in the end…

After crossing the Kin Tang bridge, and going east, the Chintang Strasse becomes Corso Vittorio Emanuele, and then turns into Petrograd Prospekt once you have passed Corso Trento. In less than two kilometers, a person who walks along this route will be subject to four different legal systems – Chinese, Austro-Hungarian, Italian and Russian, each administered by its own court. And yet, thanks to extraterritoriality, a citizen of one of the Eight Nations who breaks the law, anywhere in the Tianjin area, will be extradited to his sector. In a surreal variant of the classic joke, if there are an Italian, an Englishman and a Japanese who rob a bank together, if caught, each will be tried by a different court, and will suffer a different sentence. But it’s actually a lot more complicated than that.

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No, not the Fleetwood Mac song.
Ever since I was a kid, during highly stressful times I either get insomnia, or I have the strangest, most distracting dreams. As I think I have mentioned in the past, a lot of these dreams take place in the same locale, a white city that is sometimes completely deserted.
Two nights ago it was not.

And yes, I also hate those people that go and tell you about their dreams, so I think it OK should you decide to stop reading here.

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Stuff will happen

And so this afternoon me and my brother filed the necessary paperwork and were enrolled as librarians in the local public library. This is considered a voluntary public utility service for the community – that is, it is an unpaid job.
But, hopefully, fun.

The Castelnuovo Belbo Public Library is a huge affair, having received a few years back a donation of over 8000 volumes, that are still mostly to be catalogued and put on the shelves. From what we saw, cataloguing technology is solidly pre-1990, but we’ll work on it.
And the building housing the collection is considered one of the best public buildings in the whole Belbo Valley and by extension, of the whole Astigianistan.

Of course we have a lot of great ideas, and as old hands at Call of Cthulhu we know everything we need to know about libraries and old books.

As i said, stuff will happen.

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Introducing the Bigàt

Among the too many projects I am currently juggling, there is a side gig as the only person with a iota of sense and some manners in Brancalonia, a project for a D&D 5th Edition sourcebook and resource that will allow brave players to explore the world of Italian folklore, Medieval and Renaissance literature, and spaghetti fantasy.
The sort of game in which Bud Spencer and Terence Hill team up with a non-Disney Pinocchio-style living puppet to go treasure-hunting in the plague-ridden, ghost-haunted, brigand-infested countryside straight out of Verhoeven’s Flesh + Blood.

Cover art by Lorenzo Nuti
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