East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


Working for amateurs

One of the most unnerving things…
Oh, hello! You’re here!
This is one of those posts about the incredibly funny and surreal experiences of one that’s trying to make a living writing – a marketing guru guaranteed I’d get tons of likes and followers by telling you these stories… so!

One of the most unnerving things of working as a freelance is the clients that do not pay you in time, but then point out it’s extremely unprofessional on your part talking about it and pointing your finger at them.
What a horrid lack of class, mentioning money like that!

Continue reading



Yesterday it was Friday the 13th and there was a full moon, so I met a friend who’s a fine horror writer and we went for a bite and a long night talking.
Of course we would have done it even had it been Monday the 19th and a quarter moon, but the whole day/moon thing was a nice touch.
We were assigned table 13 in the diner where we stopped, and that did not escape our notice.

As it usually happens in these situations, we ended up talking shop, and the discussion turned to our professional designation. Writer, that is.

Continue reading


Portrait of the artist with a young cat

My brand consultant tells me it would be a neat move to enhance my impact to have a FinkoPop mini of myself on sale at fairs and conventions, and also via Amazon and this blog.
After all, he said, if David Lo Peng from Big Trouble in Little China has a FunkoPop doll, why not me?

And it turns out that one can actually preview how such a thing would look like.
In this case, like this.

Incidentally, this is the last silly post of the vacation period.
We’ll resume posting about stuff that really matters, such as the top kn/hrs speed of the average camel, tomorrow.

Leave a comment

Some late night thoughts about invisibility

This post might be (and probably will be) rambling and jump all over the place. Please bear with me – it’s very late at night.
I’ve been thinking about invisibility a lot, in the last few months. Now this is a good thing, one might say, for a fantasy writer: invisibility is a classic gimmick, and one that can be used to tell an exciting story while at the same time touching on a number of different themes, and thus talk about reality and truth. A good subject, invisibility, easily recognized and versatile.

Indeed it can be argued that my story The Smell of Empty Places (that was published in Italian in Acheron Books’ Dark Italy, and might one of these days be published in English, too) is a story about invisibility – the main character suffers (or enjoys? Ah!) a sui generis form of social invisibility, and making herself invisible is what she needs to do in order to escape the monsters she was able to find exactly because of her peculiar situation.

But it’s not invisibility as a story engine that’s been rolling through my mind in these last few months, but rather invisibility as a writer’s trait – as a very desirable choice for a writer.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Cherish the small pleasures

… because sometimes the big pleasures are out of your league.

And having spent a whole day writing, today’s small pleasure will be to take a walk under the stars and enjoy and ice-cool lemonade (that’s called “gazzosa” hereabout – like the French “gazeuse”).

There’s a company that does special edition bottles with nose-art style ’40s pinups.

Sometimes that’s enough to feel better.

Leave a comment

Tropical diseases, Egyptian curses, colonial traditions and Sherlock Holmes

I skipped a post yesterday: first I was busy doing a supermarket run and stocking my freezer with ice cream as a defense against the heat (36°C and 74% humidity as I write this), and then I scrapped the Holmes story I have been working on these last two weeks and started it over.
So I spent part of the afternoon and night of yesterday checking out books about Egyptian magic, and old Victorian books about tropical diseases.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Only for completists

There is one more work of mine that’s being evaluated for publication, and one I will mention here because it got me thinking about how my life has changed in the last few years.
The work is a collaboration, and I am quite proud of being in the team that put it together.
It’s called

Benthic foraminiferal proxies of environmental changes during the pre-Messinian salinity crisis of the Sinis Basin (W Sardinia, Mediterranean Sea)

And no, it does not feature swords, sorceries or strange creatures – unless you consider banthic foraminifera as such.

How things have changed, I was saying – up to five years ago the above would have been a good sample of my job – data analysis of environmental data and ecological associations, that’s me.
But then things got strange.
My father was ill, my contract with my university was dead, and I spent two years nursing my dad, and writing stories and doing translations in my free time. Because that’s the only work you can do when assisting a bedridden parent.
No more microscopes, no more field samples.
Afterwards, there was debt, and poverty, and no job – hence, my decision to keep writing, just write more, better, and for paying markets.
I’m still here, so it sort of worked out.

But the opportunity to work on the data from the Sinis Basin was a happy one – because that’s me.
It’s the job I studied for, for which I paid my university taxes.
It makes me happy, to be able to flex muscles I have not used in a long time, and prove to myself I can still make it.

Which also gets me thinking: had I started writing stories at 20, instead of becoming a paleontologist and a geologist, where would I be now?

But anyway, now the paper is in the hands of the referees.
And believe me, referees are ten thousand times scarier than editors.