Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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The Blue Nightingale, a new Tale from the Frontier

I have just posted a new story to my Patrons, the fifth short in the Tales from the Frontier series – a short fun piece, written in a single sitting and set this time on the other side of the Abode of the Snow, in the not-exactly-Chinese-empire of the northwest.

A story about honor, duty and common sense, called The Blue Nightingale.
Because it’s good to be my patrons.


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Plots, Nefarious or Otherwise

Sitting here wrapped in blankets, drinking hot tea and popping aspirins to try and get back on track after two days spent on the road and in the cold, I find that there is little I can do but plot future stories.

I sent a detailed pitch to my Italian publisher, but I’ve yet to hear back from them, and I have here two open calls that would be madness to miss – so I sit, and drink tea, and plot.
This is the phase in which I do not write, but rather I pile ideas upon ideas, and let them simmer.

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Selling the unknown

I have just mailed a four-page preliminary pitch to my Italian publisher, a proposal for a novel that might be fun to write, and might become the first in a series (one hopes) and might even have a chance on the international marketplace (ditto).

Now, a short pitch should include the working title, the general plot, and the major selling points of the book. The author, in other words, should tell the publisher why this book is the coolest book ever written, why it will sell in cartloads, and who is going to buy it (possibly multiple copies of it).

And here is the rub – one of the strong points of my story, I am sure, is that nothing like this was done before, at least in my country, at least within my genre of choice. I can point out TV series and movies, comics and books, that work on the same premises – or something really similar – but in Italian, as horror/thriller? No, never.

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Spare change and writing classes

Talking about my generation, like Roger Daltrey used to do, we never really got used to the copper spare change that came when we transitioned to the Euro system. It’s psychological, and cultural – the 1, 2 and 5 eurocent coins feel like ballast, feel like a waste of time counting.
Back in the days, soon after the advent of Euro, older people used to refuse to take the change, when shopping… “ah, seven cents, keep them!” and anyone paying a 1 euro candy bar with 20 five cent coins was looked at by everyone in the shop like he was some kind of beggar with a sweet tooth.

So what happens now is, when you take an old jacket out of the closet and brush it up, you find a selection of ones and twos and fives. Ditto when cleaning drawers, or when you happen to look in old china vases and other odd containers.

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Vampires

Last night I pulled out two things from my shelf – my copy of the Hammer movie Vampire Circus (1971) and my copy of J. Gordon Melton’s The Vampire Book, a massive encyclopedia of the undead that is part of my somewhat extensive collection of non-fiction books on the subject. I was quite surprised when I discovered The Vampire Book was published in 1994 – is it really been that long?
This led me to reflect on the reason for my general dislike for vampires in the last few years – the Vampire roleplaying game, that first came out in 1992. Suddenly vampires where hot in the ’90s, and as it usually happens, the surge of recent converts to the new faith caused me to look somewhere else for my thrills.

Me, I was a Ravenloft sort of guy, or even better a Warhammer Fantasy RPG sort of guy, when it came to roleplaying vampires.
Even better – a Chill sort of guy.

As for stories…

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I never wrote a vampire story

It’s something I realized a few nights back, while watching the new BBC adaptation of Dracula.
It was the classic realization thing in three movements, like a symphony, that’s often mentioned in writing handbooks:
first movement – damn, I can write better stories that this!
second movement – hey, I actually never wrote a vampire story! Never, in all these years…
third movement – opens a new folder and a new file in Scrivener.

Which of course leads to the question… why not?

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