Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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A Halloween reading list

Halloween, Halloween… it’s weird when you find yourself doing more posts about Halloween than you will ever do about, say, Christmas or New Year’s Eve.
It’s like Halloween has become the Web’s main festivity.
A festival of ghosts, spooks and dead people.
Seems fitting.

So, why not suggest a reading list for Halloween?
And considering we are cheapskates, why not a list of free ebooks?

Let’s see… Continue reading


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Other People’s (New) Pulp: Tropicana

Screenshot from 2015-11-29 22:34:14My plans for the weekend have been completely shot by the publication of Tropicana, a new Savage Setting for the Savage Worlds roleplaying game.
This week I’ll be posting various stuff about this setting – because it’s the sort of game that really clicks with a lot of my interests and passions, and reading the handbook was really inspiring.

If you are looking for a capsule review and an overview of the pulpy goodness that is Tropicana, point your browser at the GreyWorld blog.

In this post I’d like to offer a selection of resources I think players and game-masters might like to check out – if they don’t know them already.
Sort of an essential reference shelf.

Let’s go. Continue reading


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The Mysterious West

moon-elis-foldThis is a request post.
The first in a series of request posts – or better still, the start of a side-project which started as a request post.
Complicated…

I was talking, a few days back, with my friend Claire, and we hit on the idea of the Mysterious West, or, if you prefer, the West as seen through the eyes of Eastern Fantasy.
We were discussing the fascination the Japanese seem to have for European historical settings and melodrama – from the middle ages to the very early 20th century, references are quite frequent, in anime, manga, narrative.
Our chat started because of Takarazuka, really.

So, Claire said, why not explore this idea, this concept of the Mysterious West? Continue reading


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You don’t know Jack… but you will

20071128dumplinghouseMany years ago I spent a long night with some friends, eating Chinese and talking writing.
Fueled by Cantonese Rice and Flambé Dumplings, we came to the conclusion that the best ideas are those that feel completely crazy, and that make us a little scared, a little uneasy.
Not so much scared as in a John Carpenter movie, more scared as in “heck, how am I going to pull this one?”

If you can answer that question, you’ve got a good story idea in your hands.

So each one of us, that night, set down his own impossible story idea, and the morning after, these were forgotten.
Or at least tucked away in some dark corner of our memory.

That night, I invented Jack Nada. Continue reading


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Doing some literary detox

I’m not a good person, so I blame science fiction and fantasy fans.
Been around them too much lately – they bored me to death.
Or maybe, it’s the fact that I read – and wrote – too much genre stuff in the last months, and I’ve reached a sort of saturation.

I’m bored!, like Toyah used to sing.

So it’s time to do some serious detox – because without variety, everything you read (and write!) feels the same, and boredom ensues.
Therefore, in this month of May, I’ll stay clear of the fans, I’ll take long brisk walks and I’ll read history, and crime fiction.
And I’ll write… oh, well, a western.

And for a curious coincidence – or maybe not – I just fell in love with this mystery TV series from Australia, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, which involves history, murders, guns, and a gorgeous, independent woman.
Perfect.

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Writing the blues away

Ouch!
The post for today did not go online as planned, due to a web glitch while I uploaded it.
This is bad!
Here’s the belated post.
Sorry sorry sorry.

old-typewriterI’m going through a writing bout – partially caused that my professional life has come to a complete standstill after my PhD dissertation.

So I’m sending CVs around, and writing like there’s no tomorrow.
Because, in all fairness, there could be no tomorrow.

To me, ebooks and author-published stories are really today’s pulp racks.
Which means I suddenly understand in a very hands-on way what being a hack in the golden age of the pulps might actually feel like.
A heady mix of dread and exhilaration.
Ideas come freely, and writing them is easier than usual.
As long as this lasts, I’m on a roll. Continue reading