Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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The last twist of the year

My friend Angelo pointed out to me a recent article on an Italian newspaper about Andrea Compatangelo and the Battaglione Savoia, that – with minimal changes – are featured in Guillotine Wind, my recent historical adventure novella.

Based on the little I was able to find on the character (that I called Campatangelo, with an “a”, adopting an alternate spelling found in some documents) and his adventure, I played fast and loose while I was writing – there is a point beyond which historical adventure has to be more adventurous than historical.
The name change was indeed intended as a signal that my story was fiction, not history.

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Greetings from Krasnoyarsk

And so it’s finally done, and delivered to my Patrons – Guillotine Wind, the first Pandora story, was one of the hardest nuts to crack in my multifarious writing career. But it also features – if I do say so myself – some of my best writing.
And it’s a first in a series!
And it will go on to be part of the Seven Lives Project, and so it will benefit a bunch of stray cats. The cats will dismiss the whole thing like something due to them by divine right, but who knows, some people might like the stories.

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Translating myself

Having closed Guillotine Wind, my latest novella, I am now getting ready to post it to my Patrons – and this means translating it in Italian. Because it is good to be my patrons, and my Italian-speaking supporters get my stories in Italian, just as my English-speaking supporters get them in English.

This means a bit of extra work, and the hard part is not translating the text, but conveying the tone and the rhythms. And that is, after all, the crux of translating.

I am always dissatisfied with my own translations of my own stories – there is always something missing.

Case in point – the title of my latest novella: Guillotine Wind.
It’s good, compact and yet intriguing-.
Sounds fine.
In Italian it sucks, big time.

Fact is, what wind, and what guillotine?
Is it Il Vento Ghigliottina… but then it sounds like the wind is operating the guillotine… or is it La Ghigliottina Vento, that sounds simply stupid?
Maybe La Ghigliottina del Vento is better, but it sounds lame, and it’s four words instead of two, and it has the wrong rhythm.
Going the other way around, Il Vento della Gigliottina, would possibly suit a story set in Paris during the Terror, but not a story set in Siberia in the ’20s.

So in the end I just dropped the lot.
In Italian, the new novella will be called Vento d’Acciaio.
Steel Wind – a title I would not use for a story in English, because it was the name of a rock band.
See what I mean about being dissatisfied with my translations?

But I’m halfway through – the Patrons will get their story for Christmas.


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Guillotine Wind: the soundtrack

I like to think of my stories in terms of movies – with a cast, shots and camera angles, and a soundtrack. And as I have just finished Guillotine Wind, I thought I’d publish a selection of songs that have been playing in the back of my mind as I was writing.
And so I prepared a cassette.

Just follow this link: GUILLOTINE WIND O S T


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Guillotine Wind, a preview

In a few days, my patrons will receive their copy of Guillotine Wind, a novella that celebrates the second year of my Patron page and is also part of the Seven Lives project. The stories in the projects will reprise characters from some of my series – we’ve had a Buscafusco story already, then we’ll get a new Corsair story,a new Aculeo & Amunet story, and so on.

Guillotine Wind is something special, because it is part of a series (of two series, actually), but is also a first in its series. The debut story.
Straight historical adventure, ready to roll.

Yesterday my Patrons got a chance to see the first chapter of the new story – a rough, unedited draft.
I am now sharing this here with you because, who knows, you might get curious and decide to check out my Patreon and the story.
Enjoy!

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Curse of the Golden Bat

One thing I learned from Ian Fleming is branding my characters.
Which sounds kinky – and quite fitting, given certain tastes exhibited by Fleming in his time – but what I mean is simply calling stuff by their brand name, as a shorthand to convey certain details to the reader.
Bond shaves with a Gilette razor, lights his cigarettes with a Ronson lighter.
Before it became the product placement we see in movies, it was a writing trick to give substance and weight, and definition to what were otherwise cursory descriptions.

This works quite nicely with weapons – “he drew a gun” is different from “he drew a Remington .44” at least to some of the readers. And maybe those readers will be happy, and that’s a good thing.

I am finishing the first Pandora story – that will be called Guillotine Wind, by the way – and the branding issue came up again.
Cigarettes, in particular.

Turns out that during at least the early phases of the Russian Civil War, the Great Powers were quite happy to supply the White forces with anything they may need – money, weapons and ammo, uniforms, medical supplies and, of course, cigarettes.
And cigarettes came from Japan.
So, what is Pandora smoking?

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