Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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The Baltimore Gun Club

I am writing a story featuring the Baltimore Gun Club.
In case you missed them, these were the gentlemen that had the bright idea of building a cannon in Florida (near Tampa, to be precise) and shoot a bullet to the Moon, in Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon and its sequel, Around the Moon.

While everybody knows Melies silent movie based on Verne’s novels (and a lot fewer people remember the 1950s movie featuring Joseph Cotten), the books themselves are probably less known than, say 20.000 Leagues Under the Sea or Around the World in 80 Days.

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If this is Thursday, this must be Peking… no, wait, maybe Shanghai…

As I am planning a special podcast episode for my Patrons to celebrate both my birthday and the Feast of Long Shadows, that is, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee’s birthdays, I am re-watching for the umpteenth time the 1972 classic “faux Hammer” movie, Horror Express.

A movie I love, and I have watched thousands of times – one about which I believe I know everything.
And yet, five minutes in, the screen announces…

Peking, Russian Concession

… and my brain does a double flip, and I go…

Hold it. There was no Russian Concession in Peking in 1906. Must be Tientsin, or maybe Shanghai. You guys are playing fast and loose, here…

And then of course I kick myself for a pedantic idiot, because I’m here to enjoy the movie, not to edit it, at least until, exactly one minute later…

Peter Cushing: “Ah, professor Sexton! What brings you to Shanghai?”

There, you unknown Spanish title-writer! I was right! And Peter Cushing knows!
And that’s a little sad about me, right?
But only a little.

Onwards we go – the podcast is going to be a smash.


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Silverado (1985)

My late father loved westerns and war movies. He’d re-watch Shane (Alan Ladd was his favorite actor) or From Here to Eternity whenever he had the opportunity, often providing a running commentary for the annoyance of anyone sitting there with him.
You know, the classic “Oh, and now watch what’s coming up…”

Growing old, I find there’s movies I re-watch in the same almost-compulsive way – but mine tend to be adventure movies (Romancing the Stone), spy thrillers (IPCRESS), comedies (Animal House), fantasies (Dragonslayer, or Ladyhawke)… but there is one western I’ll always re-watch with great pleasure. It’s not one of my dad’s faves, but it’s a western that hit the theatres when I was 18. It’s called Silverado, and I re-watched it last night.

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Nothing wasted

Eighteen months ago, a publisher I respect a lot opened a tiny window for pitches – they were looking for a series of stories, and they wanted the whole package: premise, cast of characters, hooks, and short synopses of twelve episodes. And they wanted it within a week.

I had a great idea (if I do say so myself) and so I started putting the pitch together. Three days in, the publisher announced that all the available slots had already been filled – they had received pitches that were so good and solid, they had filled all the available spaces in three days.

So I shelved my notes and things. No way I could be able to do such a series as a self-published thing, and while I loved the premise and the characters, I had too much already on my plate to put some serious work in such a project.

Ten days ago, that same publisher opened again a tiny slot – for something completely different.
But this time I was ready – I only had to resurrect my notes from the folder where I had buried them, and tweak my pitch, to fit the guidelines, the request this time being for a stand-alone novelette.

And I am happy to report my pitch was approved – with minimal changes – in 24 hours.
I am in business – and I’ll be able to put on the page those characters I liked so much, and a lot of the stuff I had put together for the original pitch.

Bottom line: never ever delete a file.
Yesterday’s missed opportunities are tomorrow’s new chances.