Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Titles

Two thousand words into a four thousand words story that will turn into a six thousand words story, I have a title for the thing but not for the series that this story is part of. This is the sort of problems that writers face, and there’s nothing about it in the handbooks.

There’s a lot of things you need to do when you write that the handbooks don’t cover: finding a title for the story and/or the series, writing a blurb…

The story i s called Weekend in Monaco, like one of the Rippingtons songs I’ve been playing in the background while writing. The fact that the story is set in Monaco is also significant.
This will be the first in a series and the first in a new bold experiment etc etc.
I have the characters, the premise, the action and twelve – count them, twelve! – stories already outlined.
But what do I call the series?
I might in the end just go for the name of the main characters, and call it Gastrell & Molinot.
But I’d like to do something a little more… umph.
Oh, well, first let’s write the stories, and see if they work with the public…


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The first submission of the year

I have just mailed off to the editor the first submission of the year, a 3100 words story called The Melancholy of Princess Bilkis – a Tale of Zothique. As I have mentioned in a previous post, this is for me the opportunity to publish a story in celebration of Clark Ashton Smith, an author I greatly admire.

I wrote the whole story last night, starting at 1 am and finishing at 7 am. As soon as I finished my story, LibreOffice, which I used for the final edit and revision, froze three times in ten minutes, each time forcing me to recover the text and start anew. And then my PC hung, and restarted itself.

Let’s consider these hangups a sign that my story is good, and will probably sell, and the ghosts that haunt my house once again tried to make my life a little harder.


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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? 

Continue reading


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Pulp fairies

Cenerentola_ARI have just mailed my publisher a 10.000 words story called Away with the Fairies, a hard boiled, noirish retelling of The Three Fairies, a rather gruesome version of the old Cinderella tale from the 17th century.

In the original story, a girl meets an ogre, travels to the underworld and meets three fairies. They reward her for her kindness. When her evil stepmother tries to befriend the fairies and get herself and her ugly daughter a reward she is punished.
The girl then meets a prince,m and they fall in love, but the evil stepmother interferes again, and the prince is about to marry the ugly stepsister.
But a fairy cat intervenes, and in the end stepmother and stepsister die a very ugly death, and everybody else lives happily ever after. Continue reading


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Shanghai again

I just sent a short story, called Sapiens, to the editor of a science fiction magazine.
A brief, optimistic story set in future Shanghai.
I needed a city damaged by the ocean’s rise due to climate change, and my three choices were (in order) Alexandria, Osaka and Shanghai. Those three cities, after all, will be hit hard by the ocean’s rise – we talk about 17 million people in Shanghai only, in need for a new place to sleep.
In the end I went for the Paris of the East simply because after half an hour I was playing with flood maps of Osaka, I realized it would be a lot faster to use a city whose geography I know from previous research.

hero_shanghai_1600x600_03

This story has also been a great opportunity to divert and focus my anger at a piece that was published recently on the Esquire website, in which it was plainly told that, while it’s good and right to do all we can about the current climatic crisis, it will come to nothing in the end.
We are dead.
Human society is not capable of dealing with this sort of changes.
Just like Cyanobacteria did not make it two and a half billion years ago, for the same reason. We can’t deal with change.
A4HHo5R-640x537And I thought about our old ancestors, dealing with two glaciations with the sort of technology you can put together with two rocks.
I thought about our ancestors that came out of the African savanna and colonized up to the Arctic, and deep into jungles and deserts. I thought about the few of us that lived on the ocean’s shelf or walked on the Moon.
There is this massive, culture-wide guilt trip that’s being fed by certain media. A guilt trip that denies the best of our species, basically to preserve one of our artifacts: the economy.
So I went and wrote a story in one afternoon. Then I revised and I sent it away.
I hope the editor likes it.
It’s time to remember we are sapiens.


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Going Noir in Faeryland

42989848_10215692319757653_2014258310848446464_nLess than 12 hours after the paintings by Astor Alexander started making the rounds, a call hit the usual suspects, for an anthology of pulp retellings of faery tales.
The only rule: not the ninbe princesses portrayed in the original paintings.
Which is a pity, because I love Pocahontas – Private Eye.
Anyway, that’s what writing to a call means – you go with the publisher’s requests.
And so I did some research, dug out Giambattista Basile, and sent a pitch straight away (and this makes three submissions to three different publishers this week). Continue reading


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A Piece of the Action

In the end, the story I jotted down in first draft two nights back turned into a 3100-words short called A Piece of the Action, and it’s currently on its way towards the editor’s desk, hoping it will find a slot in the proposed anthology.

WriterAtWorkMy current process is more or less defined.

  1. I write the first draft in public, working in Google Docs online, in two or three hours, in the evening.
  2. I let the story rest for about 24 hours while I do something completely different.
  3. Still in Google Docs, I clean up the file, deleting my in-line live commentary and doing a first revision.
  4. Then I switch the Language Tools plugin and have a go at the text, catching typos, inconsistencies and wrong phrase construction.
  5. At this point, I copy and paste the text in a LibreOffice doc and I have a final revision, cutting what can be cut and adding what needs to be added.
  6. I format the text according to the guidelines, I save it in the requested format, and I send it along to the editor with a brief cover letter.

And that’s it.
Then the waiting begins, because there’s usually a few weeks lag between delivery and final verdict.
But that’s part of the game.
And now, on to the next story.
This thing is working like clockwork.
Tonight I might try and do another, depending on how my plans for dinner work out.