Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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3000 in 4

The pleasure of nailing a 3000-words historical dark fantasy in a single afternoon!
It’s the sort of thing that makes one feel good.
Sort of what the heck, I can still do it!

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It is not that hard, really.
In fact, you can do it too. Here’s what you’ll need:

  •  a basic story idea
  • Wikipedia to check historical facts
  • 3 Mars bars (or cheap knock-off), to be awarded one every 1000 words
  • the full knowledge that the work won’t be paid, so you better get it out of the way fast

And I know, I know

writer = guy that gets paid for writing

Sorry to let you down, folks.
Indeed the payment was one of the first thing that was promised me, but then the money sort of fizzed. So it turned this job into another sort of work – just showing off, a cheap (ah!), childish display of writing prowess: one full story, 3000 words long, in one afternoon, from empty page to finished first draft.
what the heck, I can still do it!


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A postcard from Hanzhong

acheron_the__ministry_of_thunderWhen I wrote my first novel, The Ministry of Thunder, it was originally called Beyul Express. It was the first in a hypothetical series, and I had written the first draft in eight days. The second draft took six months, and expanded from 48.000 words to 78.000.
The book got some great reviews, and was generally well-received.
Later, I wrote another story featuring Felice Sabatini.
A lot of people had asked to learn more about Helena Saratova, Sabatini’s old partner, and Cynical Little Angels, set about two years before the events in Ministry, described the first meeting between the Italian pilot and the blue-haired adventuress.

angelsTwo nights ago I was going through one of my usual bouts of insomnia. This has been a rough time for me – rougher than usual. Lots of thoughts and stuff. In the last ten days I’ve been unable to write anything good – and you may have noticed my posts on Karavansara became erratic and short.
So two nights ago, nursing a hell of a headache, at about 2am I fired up a txt file, and started writing.
Write to the block, write through your worries.
At 6am the neighbor’s dogs started barking their hearts out at the dawn, and I found myself with 3500 words of The Ministry of Lightning, the sequel to Thunder, taking place in Shanghai, about six months after the last page of the first novel.

As the story opens Felice Sabatini, having walked the 7000 miles back from the Taklamakan desert, rolls back in Shanghai in the sidecar of a stolen motorbike driven by a Korean expatriate. The city is getting ready for trouble – there are sand bags in the streets, and lots of soldiers carrying weapons.
The motorbike enters the Italian-style garden of a mansion on Bubbling Well Road.
“Are you sure this is the place?” the Korean asks, looking dubious.
“I’m sure,” Sabatini replies.
He knocks on the door. A girl in a sailor uniform opens the door, stares at him, starts screaming, and slams the door shut.
Sabatini gives a reassuring grin at the Korean guy, that looks even more dubious.
Then the door opens again, and it goes more or less like this… Continue reading


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Three Devils in Faustus

I just delivered a new 5000-words story to the editor of a forthcoming anthology.
It’s supposed to be sword & sorcery, and indeed it features a sword, and some sorcery.
The Devil itself plays a part in it – quite literally.
It will be first published in Italian (if, that is, it turns out to be good enough), and then hopefully also in English.

11936-004-4F8FBD3DThe story is called “Three Devils in Faustus” – and yes, this is a wink at Leiber’s masterful “Four Ghosts in Hamlet”.
I’ll never be as good as Leiber, but my story strives to be somewhat Leiberian in tone, as there is little violence, much talk, some drunkenness and a striking woman in a green dress.
But there is also some bit of Anderson’s “A Midsummer Tempest” – that is, it looks like it takes place in our world, but actually it does not.

The story did take indeed some curious work of bricolage. Continue reading


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Writing advice – quality control

There is something I think I never mentioned so far, and might come as a help for any writer or hack out there.
And you know I can’t resist the idea of sharing my spurious wisdom on my blog.
So, here goes.

We all know that if you want to write, you must read.
You must read as far and wide as possible, so that it is OK… no indeed, it is absolutely essential to read science fiction if you want to write historical romance, and hard boiled mysteries if your genre is actually sea stories, etcetera.
And essays, of course. Read non fiction, too.

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But never, never forget to read cheap, poorly written, amateurish crap. Continue reading


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Ideas everywhere, and a new story

OK, new project going – because really ideas can be found everywhere.
Where will I find the time to write it, I wonder?
But anyway, good ideas should be pursued, and what I have here now is a great idea!
I am still putting together all the pieces and things, and I’m doing a nice bit of research, but I’ll work double-time to make this new thing ready for Halloween.
Because it’s horror.
Supernatural horror.
Maybe with a little touch of occult.

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As usual I’m thinking in terms of mid-length, say a novella, and possibly the first in a series. But that’s long in the coming.

It is also something really different from what I usually write, and this is the exciting bit, because it’s always good to try new concepts, styles, structures and plots.
I’m also considering the option of publishing the story in both English and Italian at the same time, which makes it even more work, but it would be nice.

I’m not giving away anything else for the time being, but I promise that, if it will eventually work out, it will be quite fun. And different.
So, wish me luck

buscafusco ghosts & shadows smallIn other news: the BUSCAFUSCO ebooks are about to be re-priced at 1.99. I know this will cut my royalties drastically (70 cents instead of two bucks), but I write to be read and to sell (not necessarily in that order) and a higher royalty on a book that does not sell is meaningless.
So, keep an eye out, in a few hours the prices will drop.


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Buscafusco is (almost) back

buscafusco ghosts & shadows smallAnd with an extreme delay, the second BUSCAFUSCO story is done, and is currently being lovingly manipulated by Mr Bezos’ gnomes.

This one is called Ghosts & Shadows, and is set during the Montferrat Winter – following the Autumn exploits of the first story in the series.
The idea is to do four volumes, covering four seasons – the next one therefore should be Spring.

As in Women & Children, once again Buscafusco will be tackling two cases at the same time – a kidnapping and a haunted house. Continue reading