East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


Back west

I’m going to go back and re-read Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove for the third time in the next few weeks, which is weird because I got something like forty-odd books in my Christmas book haul and it was just incredible and my to read list was never so full.

But there’s two reasons I’m going back to Gus & Call’s adventures. Well, OK, four.

But the first reason is simply that it’s a great book and I feel like reading it again, and the second is I’m going to slate it up for the book club I’m holding on my Italian blog, because the Italian version’s out again and it’s real cheap.

Reason three and four are more articulate.

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Writing across the cultural boundary

I’ve been interviewed.
I don’t know when or where the interview will be published, but it will be in Italian anyway, and for all I know my bits could be cut in the end.
But, something interesting came up during the interview and I thought I’d expand on the subject a bit here on Karavansara because… well, because as I said the question was interesting, because I think it might be worth expanding upon and yes, I love talking about myself and what I do.
So, like that man said, I suffered for my art, now it’s your turn… Continue reading

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Why do you read thrilling adventures and wild stories?

It started with my friend Claire’s latest post – which you can find here.
Go read it.


Contrary to what Claire seems to think, science fiction and fantasy writers get asked quite often why they write what they do.
It’s even worse for horror writers.
Adventure writers tend to get a lot of blank stares.
In general, should you ever reveal to your friends and acquaintances that you are a writer1 and write imaginative fiction, you’ll get asked, basically


The answer, of course, is usually that we write what we like to read. Continue reading

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On the joys of being an avid reader

92324624c6d8489f3ea8c99ff0865f30There was a time when I was a genre reader.
A single genre reader.
Which means I read mostly genre fiction, and mostly a certain genre of fiction – to wit, science fiction and fantasy (in their broader sense).

This changed, dramatically, when I was about eighteen years old.
There was no great epiphany, no great watershed moment, no single book I can nail as the one that opened the floodgates, but basically, when I was eighteen or thereabouts, I simply found out that I loved reading.
I loved stories, I loved the possibility of exploring different places, different characters, different situations.
Who cares about genre labels? Continue reading

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More Italian Style

marriage-italian-style_01Talking about Italian style in imaginative fiction, last week I was part of a debate about what makes Italian genre fiction Italian.
Me and the other authors currently published by Acheron Books were asked to propose a four points guideline, a best practices hit list.

An interesting challenge.
Being the sort of contrary guy I am, I started by pointing out that I do not believe there’s a set of Italian guidelines that differ drastically from, say,  Chinese guidelines, Indian guidelines or Canadian guidelines.
What the reader is ultimately interested in is a good story, and good stories do not follow provincial guidelines.

This said, where I to single out four points that, as an Italian, I strive to keep in mind when writing, well, here’s the list, somewhat expanded to explain each point as best as I can… Continue reading


Italian style

toppi11Many years ago I met a guy that was an excellent comic artist, in a sort of “classical” Japanese manga style.
And I mean, he was really good.
So one day he picked up his portfolio, bought a ticket to Tokyo, and did the tour of the comic publishers there, showing his stuff around.
And the Japanese publishers were absolutely impressed.
There was just a little glitch – they had buildings full of people doing exactly that kind of artwork.
“This is very good,” they said, “but can’t you do something… Italian? Like I dunno, Pratt, or Toppi, or Crepax…”

I thought about this story last week, when the usual “Italians should write Italian stories in Italian” popped up on the web, as it usually happens once every two or three months.

I am in a pretty awkward situation. Continue reading


The politics of dancing

Boris+Vallejo+-+Conan+ouvrant+une+bouteilleAnd so the old story popped up again – the fact that certain genres and certain types of stories have an innate ideological color.
Stuff like, basically, “sword & sorcery is right wing literature1.

I find the notion scary enough when expressed by people that usually do not read the genres they are politically or ideologically tagging. The thing becomes absolutely creepy when it’s writers that say stuff like that.

Is fantasy really intrinsically ‘fascist‘, horror ‘misogynistic’, science fiction ‘libertarian’ (whatever that means), steampunk ‘reactionary’…
Always and no matter what?
Isn’t it a little unlikely? Continue reading