East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


4 Against Darkness: Island of (something or other)

And the second novella in the 4 Against Darkness series is done, all 18.000 words of it. Now I’ll let it rest briefly, prune it of the useless bits, and then after dinner I’ll send it along to Ganesha Games for revision, editing, and the addition of art and a meaty gaming appendix.
The only thing still missing is the title.

Originally I pitched it as Rock Island (like the Jethro Tull song, in keeping with my habit of naming my gaming books from songs I like). But Rock Island for this baby is lame.
Then I thought about Island of Thieves, which is not bad, does not give away any detail about what actually happens in the book, but it’s intriguing, and it’s actually a thing that’s said in the story.
But I would really like to call it Island of the Screaming Statues, that is sort of an homage to Elric, and fits the story to a T.
And I really think I’ll go for it.

All in all I have built a fine sword & sorcery caper, with a few neat monsters, a twist I’m sure the readers will like when it hits them – maybe two twists, actually – and a few other nice bits and pieces.
The first story, Heart of the Lizard, was a success and is still selling steadily, and I can’t wait to give to the fans a second serving of the adventures of Haq, Kil, Gress and Varda.

But now, I need a short break because my hands hurt.

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Back to Planescape, sort of

I loved the Planescape setting for the old AD&D.
Somebody described it as “philosophy with sticks”, and it was all right with me. I liked the way in which the game setting was presented, with the incredible Tony Di Terlizzi Illustrations and all the little bits of fun such as the slang, and the strange mix of Elizabethan, not-exactly-steampunk, sword & sorcery and, yes, philosophy.
Planescape was the sort of setting in which you ended up investigating who had actually killed a god, but in the meantime had the opportunity for a lot of weird shenanigans, swordplay and wordplay.
It was great.

My small collection of Planescape books is still here on my special RPG shelf, and sometimes I fantasize about setting up a new campaign.
Shake the pillars of creation for one last time.

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Flash from the Past: Hawk & Fisher

I discovered Hawk & Fisher in the early ’90s, when I bought in bulk the six slim Headline paperbacks that make up the series. It was a very strange hybrid: sword & sorcery, detective story and humor.
But I liked the general concept, the six paperbacks were cheap, and it was a fun way to spend a summer.

Hawk & Fisher is one of the first series developed by Simon R. Green, a British writer that has fully metabolized the pulp ethos of yore: he writes serial characters, usually in pretty classic genres (fantasy, horror, space opera), adding a twist that makes even the most trite concepts look fresher.

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Of course I knew it, when I picked it up. I knew it would be hard going, and it would mock all I know about the genre, and make me feel small and stupid and basically fire-bomb all I know about writing.
But after all that was the reason why I picked it up to start with.

I’ve decided to devote the Christmas nights to the reading of Samuel R. Delany’s Tales of Nevèrÿon, his 1978 collection of stories that is the first volume of the Return to Nevèrÿon series.

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Coming soon-ish: The Heart of the Lizard

There is one thing that can really make things look up even on a cold rainy day, when you are writing for a living, and that’s being asked by your publisher how many more stories in the same series can you write, per year, should the first one you just delivered be a success.

The obvious answer being “as many as you need,” of course – but in the meantime you feel real good because you know you’ve done a good job.

It happened to me a few hours ago, three days after delivering The Heart of the Lizard, my first (hopefully, of many) tie-in novella for Andrea Sfiligoi’s 4 Against Darkness fantasy solo roleplaying game, set in the gaming world of Norindaal.

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