East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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At the feet of a giant

41T7fyFa80L._SX350_BO1,204,203,200_I discovered Harold Lamb pretty late in my life, about ten years ago.
I had retrieved, as a kid, a pair of biographies written by Lamb, I had found in my grandmother’s attic. They were from my mother’s collection of young girl’s reads. I think one was Tamburlane, and the other might have been Theodora.
I don’t know what happened to those books – I guess my mother gave them away. I was not overly interested in historical biographies, at the time I liked dinosaurs.
Only much, much later I found the collections published by Bison Books and edited by Howard Andrew Jones, and it was a delight.
“Who,” my friend Claire asked, “Lamb the one of the Cossack?”

I knew, through my readings, that Harold Lamb was a great author of historical adventure, “always the scholar first, the good fictionist second” as one of his editors said, and I associated his names with Adventure magazine, that to me was possibly more iconic than Weird Tales or Astounding.

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Work in progress, June 2018

1966-200Just a quick roundup for those that like to keep track of what I am doing.

I am currently working on four big projects:

  • AMARNA is about to close, and the last episode will hit the shelves at the end of the months. Then work will start on the Italian translation and on the one-volume special edition. Basically, in 12.000 words from the end of this story, and it feels pretty emotional, all things considered.
  • LIVYATAN is shaping up nicely, and I plan on delivering it to the publisher by the end of the month, give or take a few days. Having found the right structure, this is writing itself pretty nicely.
  • MARTIAN ROULETTE (working title) needs to be ready by the beginning of July, and I am working on it in a rather different way from my usual, outlining it in depth, and then I will write it in two or three sittings tops. Being a 25.000-words story, it’s feasible.
  • THE MINISTRY OF LIGHTNING is going to be published as a serial on Patreon, and is probably the fastest writing I ever did. It’s a bit like having Felice Sabatini sitting here by my side, dictating his memoir. Right now, I’ve completed the prologue, and I’m looking at old maps, in search of the right place to set up a stunt I’ve been dreaming about since I was in high school. Last night we had a terrible storm here, and thunder and lightning chased each other across the sky for hours. I see it as a sign of approval from the Esteemed Personages in the Ministry of Storms.

Also, I’m writing short stories – I still owe one to my Patrons, and there’s a few submissions I’d like to hit.
To avoid the meltdown and explosion of what’s left of my brain, I’m working on a very strict schedule, morning and afternoon. In the evening, I’ll be doing some translation work, because the bills keep coming.


The Ministry of Thunder – an announcement

OK, drop everything you are doing and listen, because I have to make an announcement.
A big one.

The Ministry of ThunderI have just learned from my publisher, Acheron Books, that The Ministry of Thunder is their bestselling title on the international marketplace.
This makes me really proud.
The Ministry of Thunder was my first published novel and it helped me learn a lot about writing, and it was a fun ride, and I love the characters in it.
Felice Sabatini is like an old friend.
I am completely and unashamedly in love with Helena Saratova, but I also sort of fancy Pat Neil.
And Captain Asamatsu is such a wonderful antihero.
And LaFleur… ah, we go back a long time with Jacques LaFleur.

So, before we go on, I would like to thank all the readers that bought and enjoyed my novel and my characters.
Thank you, from the heart.

This said, there is a storm brewing over Shanghai.
And Sabatini is about to get back in town.

The Ministry of Lightning is going to happen.


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No hangout tonight

Hangouts_IconI was planning a hangout session with my English-speaking patrons tonight, but I got no response.
My fault – too little advance time, and probably a time window that, by trying to satisfy everybody, it did actually satisfy no-one.
Oh, well, there will be more opportunities.

In the meantime, I am getting ready for a public writing session – this time in Italian, and hosted (so to speak) by an Italian ebook-enthusiast Facebook group.
To make things a little trickier, I asked the guys in the group to pitch in with story prompts.
The one that will get more votes is the one I will write, in Italian.

And as we are talking about writing in Italian…

transaltingIt’s been suggested to me that I do translate into English a few of my so far Italian-only stories.
And I thought, why not?
Now I have only to decide what to translate.
Eroi dei Due Mondi, my steampunk-ish series about assorted Italians on Mars?
Gli Orrori della Valle Belbo, my collection of horrors set here in the hills where I live?
Or maybe Asteria, my Sword & Sandal series inspired to old peplum movies?

I’d be REALLY partial to translating Asteria, but of course opinions and suggestions are more than welcome.

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Missed posts, books and hangouts

And so I missed a post, yesterday.
Boy I hate it when it happens – it broke a streak that had lasted more than two months.

But I’ve been busy – I’ve spent most of the day editing and setting a new book that will be out soon, in Italian: a collection of eccentrics and their adventures.
Strictly non fiction, what I usually call pulp history – spies, adventurers, loose women.
This will be a 280-pages paperback, fully illustrated – and putting it together, and clearing the typos and everything else took all of the day. Now Amazon has it.

La storia fatta coi cialtroni smallThe book was overdue – I had announced it for Christmas, and never got around to finishing the design work. Then, Saturday night, during my hangout with my Patreon supporters, one of them mentioned the book, and how she had planned to give four copies as gifts for Christmas.
It’s very bad letting our readers and supporters down.
So I got to work, and finished what I had started – and while I was at it I added some 10.000 words of extras.
Should, as I hope, the book hit the shelves this week, it would be my fifth title published in five weeks. Not a bad track record.

And this leads me to my hangout with my supporters, and its immediate effects on my state of affairs.
Because it was absolutely great, and the sort of thing that I must absolutely do again.
Writing is a terribly lonely business, and solitude piles on solitude when you are living in a hole of a village in the back of beyond.
Feedback becomes a lifeline – a cure for depression, a sign that what we are doing has an effect out there.
And there is nothing better than a long friendly chat with intelligent people – and my patrons are all very intelligent.
So I’ll do it again – maybe next week already.
And this week I’ll open my hangout for English-speakers. This Saturday, 11 PM UTC.
What do you guys say? Anyone cares to join in?

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Of Seances and Egyptian Goddesses

And so we did it.
Oh, what a night! (yes, just like the old Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons hit.)

Part 1 – The Seance

Google Hangouts acted up a bit during my hangout session with my Italian supporters from Patreon. A lot of

“Can you hear me?”
“Are you there?”
“I can Hear you, can you hear me? Give me a sign if you can…”

Next time we’ll use a Ouija Board. And there will be certainly a next time, because it was a lot of fun and, for me, a mighty injection of good cheer and positive attitude.
Writing, we have said it before I think, is a lonely business, and we often wonder at what’s happening out there, with our readers. Well, Patreon and this hangout thing is certainly helping bring writers and readers together in a fun way.
We’ll do it again.


Part 2 – The Boy’s Night Out

In the end that guy was right, and three thousand words were on the page after about two hours.
In the end, I ditched my plan for a 2-characters/3000-words story, and let Nennius Britannicus and the boys take the story where it needed to go.
End result: 6000 words in 5 hours, making lots of pauses. Good going.

This, despite a 2 AM call from a call center somewhere, with a guy trying to sell me a table & chairs set for my garden. Continue reading