Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


Leave a comment

Playing along the Frontier

So you are working not on one, not on two, but on THREE big huge projects, each on of them with a deadline ticking. One project is fun, another is just what you always wanted to write, and the third you hate every minute of it but is paying the bills, so bend on that oar and push!
What do you do, then?
Simple, you invent a fourth big huge project just for yourself.

Continue reading


Leave a comment

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.


Leave a comment

Yet another Valerie

What’s with me and the name Valerie?
I do not know – but I know a lot of Valeires have turned out in my stories through the years. Indeed, the female lead in my very first “good” work, back in 1989, was called Valerie. And maybe it was the Quarterflash song of the same name, but I doubt it.

Anyway, Valerie Trelawney debuted in society this morning, as my Patrons in the Five Bucks Brigade received the third story in the Seven Lives project – a short called The Case of the Inkmaker’s Daughter. The character will have a more public debut later in 2020, when a second story, celled The Case of the Manchester Mummies, will be published in a big fat anthology together with the work of many writers that are better than me.

Continue reading


2 Comments

Greetings from Krasnoyarsk

And so it’s finally done, and delivered to my Patrons – Guillotine Wind, the first Pandora story, was one of the hardest nuts to crack in my multifarious writing career. But it also features – if I do say so myself – some of my best writing.
And it’s a first in a series!
And it will go on to be part of the Seven Lives Project, and so it will benefit a bunch of stray cats. The cats will dismiss the whole thing like something due to them by divine right, but who knows, some people might like the stories.

Continue reading


Leave a comment

Translating myself

Having closed Guillotine Wind, my latest novella, I am now getting ready to post it to my Patrons – and this means translating it in Italian. Because it is good to be my patrons, and my Italian-speaking supporters get my stories in Italian, just as my English-speaking supporters get them in English.

This means a bit of extra work, and the hard part is not translating the text, but conveying the tone and the rhythms. And that is, after all, the crux of translating.

I am always dissatisfied with my own translations of my own stories – there is always something missing.

Case in point – the title of my latest novella: Guillotine Wind.
It’s good, compact and yet intriguing-.
Sounds fine.
In Italian it sucks, big time.

Fact is, what wind, and what guillotine?
Is it Il Vento Ghigliottina… but then it sounds like the wind is operating the guillotine… or is it La Ghigliottina Vento, that sounds simply stupid?
Maybe La Ghigliottina del Vento is better, but it sounds lame, and it’s four words instead of two, and it has the wrong rhythm.
Going the other way around, Il Vento della Gigliottina, would possibly suit a story set in Paris during the Terror, but not a story set in Siberia in the ’20s.

So in the end I just dropped the lot.
In Italian, the new novella will be called Vento d’Acciaio.
Steel Wind – a title I would not use for a story in English, because it was the name of a rock band.
See what I mean about being dissatisfied with my translations?

But I’m halfway through – the Patrons will get their story for Christmas.


Leave a comment

Guillotine Wind, a preview

In a few days, my patrons will receive their copy of Guillotine Wind, a novella that celebrates the second year of my Patron page and is also part of the Seven Lives project. The stories in the projects will reprise characters from some of my series – we’ve had a Buscafusco story already, then we’ll get a new Corsair story,a new Aculeo & Amunet story, and so on.

Guillotine Wind is something special, because it is part of a series (of two series, actually), but is also a first in its series. The debut story.
Straight historical adventure, ready to roll.

Yesterday my Patrons got a chance to see the first chapter of the new story – a rough, unedited draft.
I am now sharing this here with you because, who knows, you might get curious and decide to check out my Patreon and the story.
Enjoy!

Continue reading


2 Comments

A woman with a past

The first time I met her, she called herself Helena Saratova.
She claimed to be a Russian aristocrat, and she managed a high-class brothel in Bubbling Well Road, in Shanghai.
She was in her forties, and had blue hair.
It was the summer of 1936, and Felice Sabatini was in a bind.

I was one-third into my first novel, The Ministry of Thunder, and I had painted myself – and my main character, Sabatini – in a corner. We both needed help, and fast, so I summoned a throwaway character, someone that could come in, help the hero, and be gone.
I got much more than I bargained for – Helena not only solved the problems in my plot, but she stayed on scene for most of the second third of the novel, stealing the scene from the leading lady and showing such an easy chemistry with the protagonist that when all was said and done, the novel finished, packaged, sold and read, most of the readers were quite happy,m yes, and wanted more of it.
More action, more adventure, more flying white apes and Chinese demons.
More of Felice Sabatini.
And oh, please, more Helena Saratova.

So I wrote the short Cynical Little Angels, a prequel of sorts to The Ministry of Thunder, that told the story of the first meeting between Felice and Helena.
The readers were once again happy.
Helena Saratova had become my first breakout character.

Continue reading