East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


Everybody Knows This is Nowhere

Yes, like in the Neil Young song.
And this is one of those “funny” posts about living as a writer that should make me look human to potential readers and would-be Patrons.
Sure, just look at me…
So the big news this morning is we got a call from our internet service provider – they just updated the radio/sat grid we use for connecting to the web, and so we are now able to do stuff our old PCs can’t really do. But we are now in the 21st century as far as web connection is concerned: we’ve got the same transfer rates you get in, I don’t know, Seoul or Tokyo.
Which is good news, and only costs us an extra 5 bucks per bimester.

And once again I had to feel grateful for my friends, that two years ago gave me the radio/sat connection as a birthday gift – because when you are lost in Astigianistan, without the web you’re dead.

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Uncharted is both the title of a series of digital games I would have loved to play but never did due to hardware shortcomings and the title of a song I like a lot. This post has nothing to do with either of them (but the song is actually playing in the background as I write this).

In three days it will be the 8th of May, and the third anniversary of my father’s death. The date also marks the moment I became a full-time writer, after a few years spent as a geologist that wrote stories in his spare time. The reason for the shift: no money in the bank, no work, writing to pay the bills turned out to be the only way to keep going.

These three years have been for me a journey through an uncharted territory. I did not have a plan, when I started checking publishers while putting out self-published stories using a variety of aliases, following the old pulp standard of being a lot of people, so I’ll be able to sell more.

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Going wild

While with my brother we were on the hunt for the field mice that have taken residence in the darker corners of our house, and while we were trying to ascertain if it is a hedgehog or something larger that has been raiding our trash bin, the local news informed us that the number of sheep and fallow deer attacked by wolves in our area is increasing.

The countryside is going wild.

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