East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Burning down the Library of Alexandria

I have just finished the translation/revision/rewrite of my old story The Cursed Hieroglyph, hat I have half an idea of re-titling The Thing in the Library.
It’s been a lot of hard work, but I am quite satisfied with the results – Nennius Britannicus and his boys came out of it bruised and singed but certainly wiser, and the Great Library of Alexandria was burned down once again.
I mentioned this was, historically, quite a common occurrence.

Continue reading


The case of the missing library

One year ago, in two evenings, I wrote the first 3000 words of a planned 4000 words of the Contunbernium, in Italian. I was not very convinced by the proposal I had received about publishing a story of mine, and the way in which the story was going left me cold, and in the end I dropped it.

I don’t throw away anything.
Writing is my job, no matter if I like it or not (it’s complicated), and I don’t throw away what I write. So The Cursed Hieroglyph languished in a lonely directory on my PC until I was asked for a story with specific characteristics. Bingo.

So I’m rewriting and finally finishing my story, and as I usually do, I am doing a bit of research on the fly to tighten up the background.
It’s one of those cases in which I wrote first, and checked the facts later.
And, well… damn!

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There’s a dead body in the library…

“All right, gentlemen, I need three volunteers.”
A chorus of groans and curses greeted centurion Nennius Britannicus as he entered the barracks of the contubernium. The sun had touched the horizon to the west, and the men were off duty. In one corner, hunched over a clay bowl, Brennius and Ranulphus were playing a game of dice. Festus Cimma was sitting on his bunk, cleaning his short sword, and on the next bed Scorsonides was reading one of his books. There was the smell of cooking in the air, and Troglodites was setting the table for dinner.
Dunius Clericus, the decanus of the squad and Nennius’ second in command frowned. “Trouble?” he asked, standing and smoothing his tunic. Then he turned to the room. “You’ve heard the boss,” he barked. “Three men, move it!”
More groans. Cimma slipped his gladius in the scabbard and stood, buckling it to his waist.
“A guy turned up dead in the Library stacks,” Britannicus said sourly.
Scorsonides put down his book. “You mean in the Great Library—?” he said eagerly.
Nennius Britannicus grinned. “Get your gear on, kid.”
In the corner, Brennius shook his head and dropped his dice with a sigh. “We’ll finish this when I am back.”

There are currently two Contubernium stories in the works, one being written from the bottom up and another being translated in English after laying abandoned and lonely in a folder on my hard disk because it was better that way than wasting it on a cul-de-sac anthology.
Both stories have a prospect place to go, hoping the respective editors of the two projects I’d like to contribute to will like them.
The two stories (8000 words and 5000 words respectively) are set along the Nile and in Alexandria, and are called Crocodile Island and The Cursed Hieroglyph.

This is going to be a fun week, writing-wise.


Good news on a September day

Two bits of news about today.
Three actually. Good news, and that’s good.

The first: as of today, September 2018 is the most successful month for this blog, ever. Lots of visits, lots of comments and shares.
Thank you to all comers, to the old timers and the new readers. Thank you, and welcome.
Karavansara has been slowly but steadily growing these last six years,and I will try and improve the offer of this blog, because… because I like blogging, and I want to do more for more readers.

And talking about readers… Continue reading


She Who Mauls

she who maulsThe story that started its life as The Boy’s Night Out is now available, after a quick editing and some revision, as She Who Mauls, via Gumroad.

The ebook will not be published on Amazon.

I decided to put it up as a Pay What You Want ebook – after all, it was born as a publicity stunt, I’ll keep using it as a publicity vehicle.

You can get the story for free, or set the price you think is right.

Check it out!


Twelve hours to go

Tonight’s the night.
No, not a rather sucky and sinister Rod Stewart song.

patreon_iconAt 9 PM, local time, I will set up a hangout with my Italian Patrons, to have a chat after months the guys support me. I’m really excited about this, because I owe big time to these people, and it will be great to finally talk to them, and discover what they like, what they think.
It will also be a way out of this hole of a backwater country village in the Astigianistan hills.
I can’t wait.

Then, at the stroke of midnight (actually 11 PM UTC), I’ll fire up Google Docs, and I’ll do my first session of public writing.
One-Two-Three: One problem, Two characters, Three thousand words.

Gray Vintage Typewriter English Language Day Social Media Graphic

So here’s some preliminary notes on how I’m preparing myself for the event, in case you are interested. Continue reading


Occult Detective Quarterly #4

I am proud to announce that my story Black Frog and Black Scarab is included, side by side with many excellent horror detection stories, in the fourth issue of Occult Detective Quarterly, the finest occult detective magazine out there.


In Black Frog and Black Scarab we’ll meet again centurion Nennius Britannicus and his contubernium, last seen fighting a giant stuffed crocodile in The Hand of Isfet.
It was high time the guys got their own series – and I hope this is the first of many stories.