East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Studying archaeology for fun and profit

I often write about the joys of doing research for what we are writing.
In general, I tend to do a lot of research “on the fly” when writing short fiction – like using Google to find out what’s the most popular brand of beer in Arkansas or the timetables of trains to and from Paris.

514215So, when I am writing short fiction – or when I get major doubts while cleaning up a first draft – my first stops are, unsurprisingly, Google and Wikipedia, with Pinterest (now that I can access it again) as the go-to place for visual references, and YouTube for action-related info.

For longer works, I still rely on books, and as far as online resources are concerned, I go for a MOOC whenever possible.
I think it was Mary Gentle (wonderful writer – her Rats and Gargoyles is highly recommended) that said that university courses are the best way to do all the research you need on a subject with the minimum of fuss. Continue reading


Planning new stories

Now that my 42.000 words are almost in the can1, I’m thinking about what next?.
And today I chanced upon an online article that gave me an idea.
The piece, found on ListVerse through a shared link on Facebook, is called 10 Mysterious Discoveries That Still Puzzle Archaeologists, and it is worth a read. There is also a companion piece that I found equally suggestive, called 10 Stolen Pieces Of Art That Have Never Been Found.51J873XK3QL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_
No self-respecting fan of Indiana Jones could read such a list without getting ideas, right?
And I was reminded of a book I have here on my shelf, called The Seventy Great Mysteries of the Ancient World, by Brian Fagan.
That’s a database of great story ideas, right?
Granted, some of these mysteries are very technical and exciting only for someone in academia, but a lot of the stuff is good pulp-worthy food for adventure.

So, what about starting a series of stories about archaeological mysteries? Continue reading

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Nero’s revolving room

Trust good old Suetonius

Its vestibule was large enough to contain a colossal statue of the emperor a hundred and twenty feet high; and it was so extensive that it had a triple colonnade a mile long. There was a pond too, like a sea, surrounded with buildings to represent cities, besides tracts of country, varied by tilled fields, vineyards, pastures and woods, with great numbers of wild and domestic animals. In the rest of the house all parts were overlaid with gold and adorned with gems and mother-of-pearl. There were dining-rooms with fretted ceils of ivory, whose panels could turn and shower down flowers and were fitted with pipes for sprinkling the guests with perfumes. The main banquet hall was circular and constantly revolved day and night, like the heavens. He had baths supplied with sea water and sulphur water. When the edifice was finished in this style and he dedicated it, he deigned to say nothing more in the way of approval than that he was at last beginning to be housed like a human being.

Now turns (…) out the story about the revolving room was true.


More details here.