East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


Writing the blues away

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


Aculeo & Amunet serialized

English: Rud Khan Fort in The Northern Jungles...

A quick one.
As I said, things are moving fast for my Aculeo & Amunet stories.
I’m happy to report that the new A&A story, Severed-Heads Valley, will be published in six monthly installments in the Peripheries of the AncientWorld newsletter, starting this month.

Severed-Heads Valley is a 6000 words story taking place in late 277 AD, somewhere in the mountains of Northern Iran.
Hard-up for cash and stuck in a caravan town, Aculeo and Amunet accept to track-down the runaway wife of a horse merchant.
But they’ll get more than they bargained for.
Of course.

The Peripheries newsletter is a free resource for fans of my stories – you can subscribe here.
The newsletter will hit your mailbox once a month (ideally, on the last weekend of the month), and will include exclusive contents, behind-the-scenes, cover reveals, assorted sillyness and whatnot.
And no, we will not sell your data or your soul to anyone.
Check it out.

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Working on a new story

I am proud to announce that one of my stories, A Spider with Barbed-Wire Legs, will be part of the rewards for the backers of the Kickstarter for the Dennis Detwiller collection of short stories Tales from Failed Anatomies, to be released by Arc Dream Publishing.

My story was set as a stretch goal for the target of 20.000 dolalrs – a target achieved a few hours ago.

It will be excellent to be part of such a great project, and to see my story released side by side with the works of many authors I respect and admire.

My story is going to be a horror/espionage number, and is set in Paris in the ’50s (but it does include some Orientalist elements).

old Paris

Right now, I’m doing some background research on the time and place, to spice-up my tale.
As usual, I’ll collect a cartload of photo references.
Might as well start a Pinboard on Pinterest… I’d call it “Paris, When it Sizzles“.

In the meantime, there’s still 6 days to go and many interesting rewards to be unlocked by financing the Kickstarter.
Check it out.

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Authority Issues

One of the best bits of being a writer (if on a part-time basis) and having access to the web is, I get very close to my readers.
I get feedback.
I get reviews.
I get shoutouts like “Bought it! Liked it!”

It’s the sort of stuff that really helps going on – even when sales are low and one can’t actually pay one’s bills with the money from the ebooks. Continue reading

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Guest post – An interview with Fatima Bhutto

I’m happy to post here the original interview with author and poet Fatima Bhutto, which was conducted by my friend Giulia, webmistress of the Italian literary blog Liberi di Scrivere.


Liberi di Scrivere – An interview with Fatima Bhutto

The-Shadow-of-the-Crescent-Moon1. Welcome Fatima, and thank you for granting Liberi di Scrivere this interview. I will not ask you any question about your family (our readers are invited to check out your biographical essay, Songs of Blood and Sword). I’d rather ask you about your work as a fiction writer: The Shadow of the Crescent Moon (2013), is your first novel, a  fictional work that reflects anyway everyday life in Pakistan, especially from the point of view of the younger generations. Does fiction help to better focus on reality?

I think fiction is very liberating. It allows us to discuss subjects that would otherwise be too frightening or too difficult to look at head on. It gives you a space free of judgment and that’s really important, especially when you are dealing with heavy political topics or sensitive issues. Continue reading


Dealing with plain hostility

As many friends of mine know, I collect books about writing – handbooks, critical collections, author memoirs.
I’ve been through close to 100 volumes on the subject of “writing” – and while not a single one of them holds “the Truth”, there is not a single one of them that did not teach me something.
Which is cool.
And yet…

A classic chapter in almost every writing handbook is something called “Dealing with rejection” – an essential set of “rules” for those bad days when a letter or a mail comes telling us that our story sucks.
Boy, it’s useful – because our stories do suck, sometimes.

What I find sorely missing is a chapter about “Dealing with plain hostility” – a set of rules for those bad days when someone decides to slam us, basically to vent their own frustration and make somebody else miserable. Continue reading

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The Library of the Lost

I’m keeping busy.
While I put the finishing touches on my PhD and on the second ebook in the series of pulp history essays started with Avventurieri sul Crocevia del Mondo, I’ve finally taken the first step towards making an old dream of mine reality.

ladytigersmallLast week I published my Italian translation of Frank R. Stockton‘s The Lady or the Tiger?, and its sequel, The Discourager of Hesitancy.
Short ebook, great cover, cheap price tag.

I hope this will be a first in a series of translations of old classics in the field of imaginative fiction, of adventure and of fantasy.
There’s a lot of public domain stories, out there, that were never translated in my language – or that have not been reprinted in the last sixty or seventy years.

So I’ve a dream-list of public domain stories – shorts, novelettes and short novels, mostly – which I dreamed of reading as a kid, but were not available in my language… and are still unavailable.
I’ll work slowly, I’ll translate them, and put them forth as cheap ebooks.
I’ll call them I Dimenticati – The Forgotten Ones.

Let’s give the kids something different from Twilight clones and other soul-less narratives.

Wish me luck.