Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Stories in the works

Fairy tales again, but not in a noir/hardboiled style – this time it is science fiction: I’ve just got a call for a collection of SF takes on classic fairy tales, and here I am trying to figure out a viable plot. The pay is good, the limit is 15.000 words but I’m aiming for 5000.

The deadline is damn close – the 15th of December – but I have good hopes: I can write a story in two evenings.

So here I am juggling options – Sleeping Beauty is sort of obvious, you just change stasis fields for sleep spells, and it’s done. But it’s so obvious that it’s not such an original idea. And yes, originality is overrated, but sometimes it’s a good thing.

Otherwise, what?
A robotic version of Nutcracker?
Transhuman Three Little Pigs?
Jack and the Beanstalk set on top of a space elevator?

Back when I was in high school I wrote a story about a team-up of Odysseus, Loki and Sun Wukong, that looked like De Camp style fantasy, but was in fact science fiction.
The story was not very good (hey, I was 15!), and it’s been lost now for almost 35 years, but it might provide me with some neat ideas.

In the meantime, I have two further stories done halfway through, and in need of a serious shakedown – a straight fantasy with a sort of Dumas-esque setting, called Goblins by Candlelight (basically, a fantasy take on the home invasion genre), and an occult detective piece set – hypothetically – in Paris during the Belle Epoque. I want to have one of the two finished in the next 36 hours.
Insomnia rules.


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Cold, idle and with a new skill

A very cold day after many weeks of early-Autumn-like warmth, a day spent – once the idea of going for a walk in the fields was cancelled with a deep shiver – mostly in bed, reading, and recharging my batteries.

But I have received news about a story of mine, that passed the first round of selection and now will go through a final pass – and we’ll learn if I have a sale or a story looking for a new home.
Fingers crossed, but not enough to stop me typing.

And in other news, I have started yet another career, adding a new unlikely skill to my already overloaded resume: I am now offering my services as a translator and subtitle-monger (I don’t know what’s the proper name of the job) for online videos.
You got a video, on Youtube or elsewhere, you’d like to have subtitled in Italian?
Or, indeed, in English?
Look no further, and as Blondie used to sing, call me.
I’m good, fast, and most of all, I’m cheap.

And now, I’ll go and fix myself a hot Indian dinner.
Later!


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Marque & Reprisal

Letters of Marque are a staple of historical adventure and pirate-oriented fiction: be it in the Spanish Main or at large into the stardust-strewn Orion’s Arm, no matter if you command a sailing ship or motor launch or a starship, a Letter of Marque is what you need to be on the safe side. At least, on one safe side, at least.

Commodore Walkers Action by Brooking

The handbook definition is as follows:

Letters of marque and reprisal are commissions or warrants issued to someone to commit what would otherwise be acts of piracy. They will normally contain the following first three elements, unless they imply or refer to a declaration of war to define the enemies, and may optionally contain the remainder:

  • Names person, authorizes him to pass beyond borders with forces under his command.
  • Specifies nationality of targets for action.
  • Authorizes seizure or destruction of assets or personnel of target nationality.
  • Describes offense for which commission is issued as reprisal.
  • Restriction on time, manner, place, or amount of reprisal.

And that’s what I’ve been doing this afternoon, contrary to my plans – no, I don’t mean committing what would otherwise be acts of piracy(although it would be fun). I mean I spent part of the afternoon putting together a Letter of Marque issued by the Honourable East India Company to characters and players in my Hope & Glory roleplaying game – as in my universe John Company has become a sort of corporate state, they have a right to issue such documents.
To airships.
Because we like sky privateers.

The letter is part of a special treat for some of our fans, and part of the current Kickstarter to release an Italian language edition of the game.
And who knows, might turn into a hook for future adventures. It was also a nice opportunity to do the sort of research that makes this writing thing quite fun.


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Accountants, Soldiers and Nurses

Accountants are dangerous. And no, I am not going to entertain you with my adventures in mortgage and banking. The fact is, while doing a bit of research both for The Ministry of Lightning and for a short article I am about to write, I chanced on something that will not go in the article – being only tangentially connected with the topic – and will certainly get into the novel. And it’s all about accountants.
One accountant in particular.
His name was Andrea Compatangelo, and he was an Italian, from Benevento.

Let’s bactrack a little – during the Great War, a number of Italians fought in the Austro-Hungarian forces, simply because the territories from which they came, while being ethnically Italy, were part of the Hapsburg Empire. Many of these men were taken prisoner on the Eastern Front, and deported to Russia.

After the war, an Italian military mission took care of extracting the “talianski” from the Russian working camps, and bring them back to Italy. This is the subject of the article I am writing.
But there were others. And here we go down a wholly different rabbit hole. This is a strange story…

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Coming soon-ish: The Heart of the Lizard

There is one thing that can really make things look up even on a cold rainy day, when you are writing for a living, and that’s being asked by your publisher how many more stories in the same series can you write, per year, should the first one you just delivered be a success.

The obvious answer being “as many as you need,” of course – but in the meantime you feel real good because you know you’ve done a good job.

It happened to me a few hours ago, three days after delivering The Heart of the Lizard, my first (hopefully, of many) tie-in novella for Andrea Sfiligoi’s 4 Against Darkness fantasy solo roleplaying game, set in the gaming world of Norindaal.

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Voice games

To thank my Patrons on this #ThankYouPatrons day (great little promotional idea), I decided to fire up the old Audacity thing again, and record a short message of thank you for my patrons.

Patreon allows Creators to upload audio files, and I had been thinking for a while about doing some podcasting stuff there. Just for my followers.
Like reviving the old KaravanCast, or something.

The real problem is, even with my brother doing sound producer duties, it’s a hell of a lot of work.
But who knows. It would be fun, talking about history, pulp stories and anything that comes to mind.

In other news, my voice still sucks.

It’s good to be my patrons. Sometimes.