Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Writer

Yesterday it was Friday the 13th and there was a full moon, so I met a friend who’s a fine horror writer and we went for a bite and a long night talking.
Of course we would have done it even had it been Monday the 19th and a quarter moon, but the whole day/moon thing was a nice touch.
We were assigned table 13 in the diner where we stopped, and that did not escape our notice.

As it usually happens in these situations, we ended up talking shop, and the discussion turned to our professional designation. Writer, that is.

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From Hell they came…

There was a time, more or less when I was in high-school, when horror was big. And I mean BIG. I have this clear memory of the girls in my high-school class swapping big fat books: Stephen King, Peter Straub, Dean Koontz and V.C. Andrews most of all. There was this sort of underground book club going, and there were always new titles coming, mostly from a paperback publisher called Sperling & Kupfer.
Boys did not read, or if they did they went for science fiction or comic books, and fantasy was small and read by both boys and girls, but at least in my biased memory, it was the female of the species that really loved horror novels.

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Heatwave at the Keep

Heatwave is the title of a song by a band called the Blue Nile that I discovered in the version by Dave Stewart (not that one, the other) and Barbara Gaskin.
Not that you care, I guess.
An heatwave is also what’s hitting Europe in this moment – we are at 38°C here in Astigianistan, with a staggering 58% of humidity (that goes up to ‘70% in the evening). It will get hotter in the next days.
People will die, like it already happened in 2003.

All we can do is stay indoors, use the fan in moderation, and try to go through these days. I’ve work to do, and I’ll do it in the night.
In the meantime, I pass my time listening to old records and reading a chiller – because, well, one can try and get chilled at least ideally, right?

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Back to the Empty Places

A while back I wrote a one-shot horror short story called The Smell of Empty Places, that was translated in Italian by horror maestro Samuel Marolla, and became part of the anthology Dark Italy, by Acheron Books, thus making me an Italian writer that is published in translation in his own country.

While we wait for the English edition of Dark Italy to come out, I chanced upon an open call from an English-language publisher, that looked tailor made for my story, and has a ten-days deadline. But of course I can’t sell them my old story, because it belongs to Acheron Books.

But, I thought, what about revisiting the same universe, telling a different story in the same setting? 

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The (Japanese) Black Cat

Let’s get back to our usual topics – strange stories and the East and adventure and flashing swords.
I’ve been spending a lot of time, this weekend, doing some background research for my current “mainstream” project – basically listening to music and watching documentaries about Japan, to catch a sense of place, because my story will have a Japanese side.
As it usually happens, research is changing and stretching the original concepts, and writing will be a fine game of balancing the original plot and the new elements.
It’s going to be fun, hopefully.

But all this also caused me to think back at the strange connection there is between my generation, here in Italy, and Japan. We were the ones that were in their early teens when the big anime invasion began (with stuff like captain Harlock and Mazinger Z), but I always thought there’s something deeper.
Samurai movies, and old documentaries.
For instance – I was in primary school when I caught on the telly Kaneto Shindo’s Kuroneko – the movie had been presented a few years before at the Cannes Movie Festival before it was cancelled because of the 1968 riots, and was being used to test the video walls in Turin during the Technology Fair.

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Basically, if you lived in Turin in the early 1970s, during the Fair you caught extra movies in the morning, movies that were broadcast locally. Continue reading


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Insomnia Movies: The Stone Tape

Yesterday my friend Lucy did a great post about Quatermass and the Pit (the article is in Italian, but you can use Google Translate) so I decided I’d like to watch it again. To me Quatermass and the Pit in color is always a strange experience because I first saw it on the telly, when I was a kid, and it was in black and white and I still remember it in black and white.

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But anyway, I was not able to find my copy, that lies buried somewhere. So, as I was going through a bout of insomnia and I was in a Quatermass kind of mood, I picked up another thing by Quatermass creator Nigel Kneale, and I re-watched The Stone Tape. And then I thought I’d do a post about it.
Here we go. Continue reading