East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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On the road to find out

Sometimes, I think I mentioned this in the past, the best way to relax, for me, is just to fire up a Scrivener file and start typing, letting the ideas flow. A character – or two – some snippet of dialogue, a place, an idea. Just to get back the pleasure of imagining and putting in words a scene.
Yeah, I know, I’m weird.

That’s what I did this morning, because I knew I would spend the afternoon working on a dead end project (but it’s paid, so OK), and I wanted to enjoy my vacation a little more.

So, as a result, by the end of the morning I found myself with 3000 words of a new story, the general outline of a 40.000-words novella (but it’s likely to get longer), a working title, a list of characters, some reference images and I found the time to research…

  • casting calls for actors and for dancers
  • bra cup sizes and their differences between UK and US
  • the career of V.C. Andrews and her post-mortem career (and her incredibly expensive ebooks)
  • witchcraft in 20th century America
  • TV advertisement practices in the early 2000s
  • burlesque and exotic dancing
  • architectural terms

And it was a smash.

And while I have a lot of stuff in my file, part of the fun of this thing is that I am making it up as I go along, letting events branch out, and giving my characters ample manoeuvring space.
It’s like following a road just to see where it leads.
And right now it saeems to be leading in a fun, unusual direction.

So now I’m planning to write this baby, in my spare time, and with half a mind of getting it out for Halloween – this being a Gothic ghost story and all that – self-published, maybe both in Italian and English (I am writing it in English) possibly under a nom-de-plume.

Nothing very hush-hush – I might even go for “Davide Mana writing as … “
Because it’s a Gothic Ghost Story but it’s my sort of G.G.S.

But on second thought, not straight away. I’ll save that for the second edition – let’s give time to my anti-fans to buy the book and rave about its quality, maybe even post a few reviews and try to get in touch with my alter-ego to ask for (unpaid) stories. It happened in the past.
And then let them find out…

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Sunday afternoon

The problem, my brother always tells me, is that in this place we live, all days are absolutely equal. There’s nothing to do, no one to talk to, not even a park bench in the shade where you can go and sit, have a breath of fresh air and maybe read a book.
It’s like being in the damn Devil’s Island. But with vineyards.

Which means I spent most of the day doing research for my next story, and trying to get the selfsame story started… which I did. Three times.
None of those beginnings was any good, but I have the chain of events quite clear in my mind, and now I’m going to put down an outline.
Then I’ll sleep over it, and tomorrow I will start and hopefully finish the first draft, and have the finished work by the end of the month, barring accidents.
This is a fun project, and I really hope to be able to place the story in the market I have in my sights.

Then August will be here, and we’ll see what that brings.
A huge project I was supposed to work on in August shifted to September, so I might be able to finally nail shut the boxes of a couple of stories I have here idling. And maybe start a new pet project of mine – this time, a collaboration.
We’ll see.

Sometimes it’s good to be on the Devil’s Island.

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Permanently dead

I am putting together the preliminary information and notes for a story I will write this week, because Mr Publisher and Mr Editor are waiting for it, and we do not want to keep them waiting, do we?

The story is an adventure thriller with some urban fantasy elements (proper urban fantasy, not vampires shagging werewolves), and it’s planned to develop across a fair portion of Europe as the main character keeps one step ahead of her antagonists.
A pursuit story, in other words.

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Mediums of improving conversation, brilliant wit, and moral obligations

Some things never change. I get an idea for a story, I start doing a modicum of research. Three Letters from the Country (because I am going to write it!) is going to be a ghost story set in a country house and told through letters. Ergo, I research old country houses, possibly of the British persuasion, for a map and hopefully some interior shot (to make my descriptive work easier), and I do research letter-writing during the Victorian and Edwardian era (because I want my letters to be formally convincing).
And I take notes, because I am also writing an article about research for writers.

Photo by John-Mark Smith on Pexels.com

So, letter writing in the Victorian era… now that’s a surprising subject because we often forget that back in the time letters were all that was available for interpersonal communication. No phone calls, no emails, SMS, face time, voice chat… only letters.
And even a superficial search through the web reveals a number of things.

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Where the streets have no name

As I mentioned a few days back, I am working on my (first?) story for the Pro Se Productions “St Germain Project”, in which I will have to give new life to a character that was first and last published in 1938 – if she was actually published at all, because as it was explained to me, the publisher practically died as the first issues of its various magazines were en-route between the printing presses and the newsstands.

So I am working on notes based on what we know, and as it usually happens in these cases, there are a few things we know in high detail, and quite a lot that are necessarily vague.
And some were kept vague by choice – such as, the city in which the action takes place.

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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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