East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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The Wonderman

But at the same time I am writing a story featuring the Count of St. Germain. The guy that Voltaire nicknamed The Wonderman.
The story is fully outlined but – for some strange reason – every time I sit down to start writing it, I get interrupted, usually by some nuisance that not only interferes with my writing work, but actually leaves me irritated and annoyed.
Go figure.

CITTADINI-DELLE-TENEBRE-di-Peter-Kolosimo-Oscar-Mondadori-1978-179-pagine-311575338279-500x710Now, I jumped at the idea of writing a story about St. Germain because he is one of the first mysterious characters I met as a kid, when I was reading books about mysteries and weirdness. I actually found him in a book I already mentioned in the past, Peter Kolosimo’s Cittadini delle Tenebre, sort of a young man’s primer on the occult, and a really fun book. Continue reading


Little Mysteries

Peter Fleming Ella Maillart AsiaWe have been on the road for less than a week and already we have met some interesting mysteries.

The little Cantonese man in spats is the most obvious.
While both Maillart and Fleming worry that he might be a spy, the British is quick in dismissing him as a poser. With the change of lorry, he will be soon forgotten.

But two other interesting bits come from Fleming – bringing up two facts about Maillart that she does not include in her memoir. Continue reading


John Blofeld

His father was the inspiration for the James Bond villain.

6273610-MI discovered John Blofeld‘s The Secret and the Sublime when I was sixteen.
The book, in its gaudy, cheap Italian paperback edition, was interesting for two reasons.
First, because it connected with my growing interest for zen and taoism.
Second, because it promised to reveal Taoist Mysteries and Magic – which was extremely good, because I was tired of the standard, psaeudo-celtic, or D&D-derived magic in fantasy stories, and was looking for some off-beat inspiration*.

In the end, the book was useless in developing my own magic system – but in retrospect, it was probably instrumental in convincing me that “magic system” is the wrong idea when writing fantasy.
Magic should be magic – and sure as hell it feels that way in Blofeld’s book.
On the other hand, Blofeld’s book fueled my interest in the East, which is one of the reasons I’m writing this blog, and I still feel a strong affection for this small book. Continue reading