East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Karavansara U. – first courses

When you have a good idea (or one you think is a good idea), you better put it in practice as soon as possible. Hesitation is a trap. So, I mentioned my idea to present a selection of courses the readers of Karavansara might be interested in taking, using online platforms.

The rules of thumb (we can’t really call them by-laws) of the Karavansara University are quite simple:

  • free online courses
  • related to the topics we usually cover on this blog: adventure & historical fiction, fantasy & pulp, history, the East, the Silk Road, and the whole wide world

And with this in mind, here’s a first selection of five courses that might kindle your curiosity…

Continue reading

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Learn about art and crimes

Sweetheart-art thiefA quick heads up.
The Antiquities Trafficking and Art Crime online course I took two years back is available again, and it might be the sort of thing some of you out there might like.
The course is held by the University of Glasgow through Coursera.
It lasts three weeks, it’s free and it starts on October the first.
I might even take it again – it was very useful for my writing, and the topic is a lot of fun.

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Art crimes and story ideas

One of the questions you should not ask a writer is

where do you get your ideas

And yes, I am about to start an Idea Club (you pay one buck a month, I send you an idea per week)… no, OK, joking.

Back to the post – ideas are everywhere.
Just to give you an example…

I am a subscriber to a wonderful mailing list that is called Culture Crime News – I found out about it when I followed a MOOC about art crimes.
The mailing list is maintained by professor Donna Yates, that teaches Antiquities Trafficking and Art Crime at the University of Glasgow, and writes a wonderful blog called Anonymous Swiss Collector.


Culture Crime News drops in your mailbox weekly, with stories about art and antiques crimes: looting, trafficking, theft, swindles and what else, with links at the pertinent news clips, from all over the world.
And it’s a treasure trove of ideas.

For instance, from today’s issue: Continue reading

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f7d3180b8e619e1ee49ad82f72d91bceIsn’t this business of writing a hoot?
For instance…

About five years ago I outlined an idea for a series of stories.
In a nutshell – the adventures of a team of disgruntled and hard-up university researchers that recycle themselves as “retrievers of ancient artifacts”.
Basically, a series of stories about a band of highly qualified looters1.

The series would have been called “Huaqueros”.
Nothing came out of it.
But… Continue reading