East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


Madama Lucrezia: a very small case of synchronicity

I was writing this morning. I am currently juggling writing and translating, and today is a morning writing/afternoon translating sort of day.
So I was writing this scene for the next 4 Against Darkness novella, and the characters are starting to explore the strange place where I placed them.

I wrote

“It was the sculpture of a young woman, her simple dress flowing, her hair in a tall do. The weather had erased her features, making her face a blank. A few fingers of her outstretched hands were missing.”

Myself – WIP

Not a great description, not a sample of superb writing, but after all, it’s a first draft.

At the same moment, my friend Dal – who is a fine artist and lives in Rome – was taking a walk around the ancient city after breakfast, enjoying the quiet and the sights, and took this photo…

… and he posted it on Facebook.
This is called Madama Lucrezia, and is apparently a minor but well beloved landmark in Rome. I never knew about it, of course.

Now this is quite a coincidence – the passage above and the photo happened within a few minutes one from the other.
And I’ll take it as a sign my story is going in the right way.
(I’ll obviously revise the description to make my statue more similar to miss Lucrezia in the final draft)

Leave a comment

Steve Loves Linda, a short story of the Old Timers

The Old Timers were a loose bunch of aged superheroes that I contributed to my friend’s Alex Girola’s shared universe 2 Minutes to Midnight. In a setting in which superheroes were members of government-sponsored teams or worked as part of corporations, the Old Timers were masked avengers hailing from an older, pulpier era. They remained in the sidelines and stepped in only when it was time to set the more traditional and modern superheroes straight.

I watched the Amazon Prime series The Boys, this last weekend, and then I got to talk with Alex and a few others of our old accomplices in the 2MM series. The original comic of The Boys had been one of the inspirations of our shared universe, together with The Authority, Watchmen and other revisionist comic series.
And we had lots of fun as long as it lasted.
It would be good to go back, we said.

And it turned out that each one of us had at least a story there waiting, and more stories to write.

Continue reading


Playing with the grown ups

I have just received the galley proofs of a book that will come out in the next weeks (I do not have an ETA) and that includes a story of mine.
Checking the galleys of an anthology is good, because while re-reading for the umpteenth time our own story is boring as hell, we get a peek at the other stories in the book too.
This is always exciting, because often we do not know who will be in the anthology, with whom we’ll be sharing these pages.

So I checked my story, and that my name was spelled correctly everywhere, and the link to this blog in my short bio was OK, and then checked my travel companions.
And among the names that I know I spotted an author I have respected and followed for years, both as a writer of fiction and non-fiction. I have his books here on my shelf, and I have tried to steal some of his tricks for years now.
And we will be in the same book.

And this is not the first time it happens – I’ve shared books with a few authors that were first of all my personal idols, my inspiration and a sort of far away myth.
“You’ll never be as good as these guys,” I said to myself.
And I still say it.
But I have proof in print that while I will never be as good as they are, at least I am good enough to be allowed in their same playing field.

I don’t know if this is “validation by association”, but it’s good for the soul.
It means I’m moving in the right direction.
Slowly, sometimes painfully, but I’m on my way.

I’ll let you know when the book is out.


Making changes (still writing -related)

After the bout of bad health I suffered through early this year, I decided to make a few changes. After all, my life has changed: I was a researcher working in a lab, a teacher moving between universities, now I am a writer spending most of his time sitting in the dark in a room full of books, typing.
So, different life, different problems, time to make some changes.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Stuff in the mail and an ice-cold chinotto

Hey, you might say, were you not supposed to take the day off and wonder the sun-baked streets of Nizza Monferrato?
Well, I am – just got home for a few minutes to drop the shopping bags and put some things in the refrigerator.

But it was a good thing that I took a moment to come back home, because I found my contributor copy of DreamForge Magazine #2 (the one that features my short story “Sapiens”) waiting for me in the mailbox…

… plus the galleys for an anthology that should come out in August and carries a story of mine…

… and the final editor’s rev of another story that should get out in a few weeks in another anthology.

Also, a letter by the editor that received my Sherlock Holmes pastiche, and that will give me his opinion in September.

So what can I say, it’s good to be home.
I’ll drink an ice-cold chinotto (a somewhat retro drink, if you will) to that, and then get back to Nizza, where my brother roams alone at the moment.

Leave a comment

Me, Steve Perry, Fritz Leiber and why I won’t write about kids on bikes in the 80s

This is a weird post (maybe the title could have forewarned you) and it is a part of something larger I’ve been trying to put into words these last few months. It has to do with marketing, platforms and brands, and writing for a living – indeed, it is the sort of post I usually write once or twice a month for my Patrons, under the header of Nuts & Bolts.
But I’m doing it open because… well, because.

We were discussing nostalgia and exploitation, yesterday, with some friends that have been binge-watching the third season of Stranger Things. The series has been called exploitative and manipulative by some. It ticks all the right boxes, and it settles in a general trend that builds commercial success on the nostalgia for the ’80s by people that are too young to actually remember them.

And as we were talking, a song started playing in my mind…

Continue reading


Discussing mummy resurrection practices on the devil’s radio

One of the things that will never cease to surprise me about living in a small community, is the way in which news and (mostly) gossip travel fast.
Maybe that’s the reason why you can’t get high-speed internet connections here: they are superfluous, as gossip travels faster than your average fiberoptic cable, and does not need servers of platforms except for the bench outside of the local bar, and the doctor’s waiting room.

Continue reading