East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Uncharted, feat. Nathan Fillion


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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANow I’ll hit you with one of my (many, admittedly) pet peeves.
This particular pet peeve is about the use of the word saga.

Now, if you are old as I am you might recall a Canadian prog band called Saga, and of course there’s a series of comics published by Image with the same name. I’ve got nothing against either. Ditto for the place in Japan called Saga.
What peeves me is this habit of calling anything with a fantasy flavor and lasting more than two issues/volumes/episodes, the Saga of… whatever. Continue reading

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This is probably the worst writing job I took this year.
No, hold it.
Probably researching the connection between Nazi occultism and sexual magic for a client of RE:CON was the worst, but this one comes damn close.
I am revising a novel I wrote when I was 24.
And boy is it tiresome.

This I have to say about the myself that lived in 1991: the kid had some pretty cool ideas.
Granted, he stole most of them from Michael Moorcock, Edward Bryant, Arthur Byron Cover and Tanith Lee, but as that guy said, you gotta steal from the best.
The novel, written in Italian of course and with a title taken from a song by Toyah Wilcox – a fact that, I am sure, dates the whole business nicely – is roughly 40+ thousand words, and is built like a mystery. Continue reading

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Fake interviews and pulp writers

Yesterday I read what I think is the fakest (is that a word?) interview ever published. The sort of interview that makes me absolutely certain the guy being interviewed never wrote the story he’s been interviewed about.
Stilted answers, that failed to capture the plot, the characters or the background of the story being discussed.
Generic, sum-zero platitudes, the sort of meaningless placeholder text one finds in bad writing theory books (“a story about captivating characters”).
It was infuriating, because I take writing seriously, but some evidently don’t.

51KKCGDFlLL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_I’ve read a lot of personal accounts by writers, and a lot of biographies. When they are not fake they are a great insight on the creative process, and are a never-ending source of ideas, techniques and tricks of the trade.
In this sense, I cannot recommend enough the volumes Speaking of the Fantastic, that collect the interviews Darrel Schweitzer did during his long career. Better than a writing course. Much better.
And mind you – I give writing courses.

Anyway, to recover from the bad aftertaste of that fake interview, I went and got me a nice little book that sells for 2.99 in ebook and is worth every last cent. It’s called Pulp Era Writing Tips and it’s a collection of articles about writing by – you guessed it – authors from the era of the pulps, as edited by Bryce Beattie. 514HLWfJs9LAnd I found in the volume all the freshness and the authenticity that was sorely missing from that other text.

Authors, in my experience, generally like to talk about their work. They like to relate anecdotes, point out funny or uncanny bits, and generally go through their creative process. Many tend to romanticize their working routines, or give it a too organised, planned and one-size-fits-all sort of feel, and sometimes some will provide what my friend Hell (yes, they really cal him like that) calls “the Commode Story”, like in Reservoir Dogs: not the truth, but a story so finely crafted, so thoroughly rehearsed and so often repeated that they believe it themselves.
But most of the time, you get good value and solid, reality-based information.
And that’s what you want to get.
You get it in this small booklet.
Pulp Era Writing Tips is highly recommended to anyone with an interest in writing, and to anyone with an interest in the pulps and in entertainment fiction.
Might even help someone learn a trick or two when they try faking it at interviews.

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Blazing keyboards in the dead city

s-l300According to a website that caters for collectors of vintage stuff, my mother’s last typewriter, an Olivetti Lettera 35, is worth 40 bucks – but on eBay I saw some specimens go for 100 euro.
Not bad, for an obsolete piece of tech that carries a QZERTY keyboard.
Mine… well, OK, my late mother’s is still in perfect working order. It only needs a new ribbon, that goes for about 8 bucks on Amazon, and no shipping fees with Prime.
And I’ll need to buy one, because on the 4th of August I’ll be using my old Lettera 35 for one of those “cheap stunts” that, I’ve been told, “proper writers” don’t do.
Well, screw them.

On the 4th of August, barring incidents, we’ll be sitting between a bookstore and a Chinese restaurant, in Nizza Monferrato, me and my friend Fabrizio Borgio, a first class mystery writer living like I do in these hills, and we’ll be typing two stories in a single take, and the pages, fresh out of the typewriters, will be hung on a string to dry, and for all the people to see and read. Continue reading

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Not just the bills

happyToday, a beautiful person told me she likes reading my stories because even if she suffers from dyslexia, my writing style is clear enough for her to be able to go through my tales without too much difficulty. And she really enjoys them, she says.

It does not happen often.
I do get feedback from my readers, and it’s always great to hear from you guys, but this one, today, was really unique.

This is the sort of thing that reminds me I’m not doing this just to pay the bills. And that the reason why one manages to pay the bills is because sometimes things like this happen.
This is the sort of thing that makes it worth it.
I’ve been happy happy most of the day, and I’ll be most of the evening.

And this is all.