East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Meet my monster

Work is under way on the first draft of my new sea monster story, and here’s a snippet of the research material I put together.


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No need for Google

A bit of fun.
This thing happened the other day over Facebook: somebody posted this image…

Screenshot from 2018-02-14 03-02-47

… and I commented that the really scary thing was, I would not need to google at least three of those items.
Maybe four.
My real problem would be the hits of 2007. Continue reading

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Studying archaeology for fun and profit

I often write about the joys of doing research for what we are writing.
In general, I tend to do a lot of research “on the fly” when writing short fiction – like using Google to find out what’s the most popular brand of beer in Arkansas or the timetables of trains to and from Paris.

514215So, when I am writing short fiction – or when I get major doubts while cleaning up a first draft – my first stops are, unsurprisingly, Google and Wikipedia, with Pinterest (now that I can access it again) as the go-to place for visual references, and YouTube for action-related info.

For longer works, I still rely on books, and as far as online resources are concerned, I go for a MOOC whenever possible.
I think it was Mary Gentle (wonderful writer – her Rats and Gargoyles is highly recommended) that said that university courses are the best way to do all the research you need on a subject with the minimum of fuss. Continue reading


Wine, sex and folk horror (and other things)

Despite the general sleepiness that comes with Spring, I’m trying to clear my desk of my backlog of stories, articles and translations I need to deliver to my clients, and in the meantime I’m trying to work on a pair of submissions and a couple of self-published things.
The new Buscafusco story is 75% done, and I’d like to nail its box shut by the end of the month.
acheron_the__ministry_of_thunderAlso, the Dean Wesley Smith book Writing a Novel in Seven Days is making me itchy to try. As I mentioned, I did it once already, and the novel I wrote in eight days later became The Ministry of Thunder, of which I am well pleased, as are my readers (eight 5-star reviews! hooray!)
Now I’m wondering if it would be feasible to try and do a 42.000 words story about Aculeo & Amunet.
And then there is the bit about local traditions and folk horror. About six months ago I promised a friend a novel a-la Dan Brown to stimulate interest in the territory and lure tourists in these hills. Part of that project became the Buscafusco series, but the idea of a horror story set in the Piedmontese vineyards sounds more attractive every day. And as per original plan, might make enough people curious to give a minimal boost to local tourism.
Now, as I think I mentioned, the local spook-du-jour are the masche sort of witches/hags of peasant tradition – and my friend Fabrizio Borgio is an expert on the subject.
BUT, in a twist of research madness, I decided to look at another tradition that might provide ample food for stories… even Aculeo & Amunet stories.
Because this is a wine country, and wine means Dionysus. Continue reading

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Shameless Plug: RE:CON after three months

On the first day of August me and my brother launched our small-scale venture, RE:CON Service, a fast, cheap and reliable research outfit aimed at writers and game designers.
Research is important – no matter what some people think – and sometimes you can’t invest a week researching details for a story you will write in one afternoon.
It’s just anti-economic.
That’s where RE:CON comes to the rescue: you drop us a line, we discuss the depth and width of what you are looking for, we agree on time and budget1, and you get a report covering what you needed.


So how did it go? Continue reading