Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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The hit list

I’ve just completed a new BUSCAFUSCO story, that in a few days I’ll post to my Patrons in the Five Bucks Brigade – just the time needed to translate it in Italian – because my patrons get my stories both in Italian and English. It’s a bit of extra work, but I’m happy to do it for my patrons.
And as I’m at it, I thought I’ll post here a short list of what’s to come, in terms of short stories, for my Patrons in the next months.

First, as I said, in a few days, a 7000-words BUSCAFUSCO story set in Nizza Monferrato in the days before Halloween.
After that, and in no particular order (or, in other words, as the fancy strikes me)

  • a new Aculeo & Amunet sword & sorcery story
  • a new caper of The Corsair
  • a new Tale of the Frontier
  • a new Valerie Trelawney Edwardian ghost story (the character will make her debut in print some time in the next months)
  • the first Helena Saratova (if that’s really her name) solo historical adventure

And this keeps us covered (and me busy) until March 2020.
There will be more, of course, stuff that at the moment is so secret, I can’t tell you or then I’d have to kill you.
AND the Open Outline stuff my Patrons are helping (?) me put together.

And I have to admit, I am quite happy with how things are shaping up.
Going back to my old characters, for readers that I know appreciate them, is like taking a vacation.

And as I said, there’s more to come.
So watch this space for news and, if you feel like, join us on Patreon.
Because it’s good to be my patrons.


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Historical smoking and other unhealthy writing sins

I don’t smoke. I never did.
I consider it a foul habit and a waste of money. My parents did not smoke neither, my grandfathers both did (and it shortened their lives). As a kid, just walking by someone smoking usually caused me to break into a fit of cough. This was somewhat awkward during my teens and twenties, because it looked like everybody smoked then.
My girlfriend in high school smoked. Marlboros. Talk about awkward: it’s hard to be in love with someone and you start coughing like you’re about to spit a lung every time you get close to her.
But anyway…

I watched a lot of old movies, as I grew up.
I liked – and I still like today – old noirs.
Humphrey Bogart. High Sierra is one of my all-time favorites ever. The Big Sleep, too. But everything he did, really. He was a sort of role model, because like that guy said “We’re all Bogart at least once in our lives”. And Bogey always had his cigarette. The nails in my coffin, he called them.
And what about Robert Mitchum? What about all the other Marlowes of TV and Cinema?
Then there was Mike Hammer. Damn, the guy got routinely punched, stabbed and shot at, then he got home, took a shower, drank a shot of whiskey, lit a cigarette, and he was as fresh as a rose.
And don’t even get me started on James Bond.

Continue reading


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Of Corsairs and Masks

corsair firt proof coverI mentioned too many projects.
Some new, some old, some halfway in between.
To wit…
The third Corsair story has been long overdue.
I miss Leo Martin, and who knows, maybe my readers miss him too.
The third and fourth stories in the series had been outlined and researched, but then I never got around and never wrote them.
This is an old project.

5d18194e0b0408cf2132f3dcb901665bAnd then there is Black Mask.
The legendary crime pulp magazine, the one that first published stories by Dash Hammet and Ray Chandler and Erle Stanley Gardner and Paul Cain and Fredric Brown and all the greats. I’d love to get a story of mine in Black Mask – because yes, it still exists.
They publish hard-boiled and crime, of course, and I want to have a story of mine on their pages.
This is a brand new project.

And I guess you can see where this is going. Continue reading


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My ghost decade: 1953

Two days and The Devil Under the Sea hits the shelves (but you can preorder it right now), and I got thinking about the 1950s.
Now, the 1950s are sort of a gray area as far as I am concerned – a gray area for my generation of Italians, really: the history program in school stopped at the Second World War, and we were born in the late 1960s, so the ’50s sort of fell between what we learned and what we experienced. A sort of “ghost decade”.

And yet, with hindsight, it was a pretty exciting decade1.
It was the decade of bebop and rock’n’roll.
It was the decade of revolutions and uphevals.
It was the decade of the New Look, and of the Dolce Vita.
A lot of stuff happened, and the world was shrinking.

1950s_decade_montage

The density of events in the 1950s is both a joy and a horror when writing The Corsair.
I wrote about 20 pages of what was planned as the third story, set in Egypt in 1953/54, before I checked my facts and found out the whole action took place during a coup that basically locked down the nation under martial law.
Oooops.
Scrap the thing, redo from start.

But I already told you I like doing research, and after all the events in the ’50s were quite influential on my life, and exploring the decade is becoming a hobby (another one!) of mine. Continue reading


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The Deep (1977)

I don’t remember exactly when I saw Peter Yates’ The Deep, the movie based on Peter Benchley’s novel of the same title, for the first time. I know where I saw it – in an open-air movie place in Diano Marina, while on vacation with my family. A movie about the sea, in a seaside movie theater.
It was 1978 or something.
I am absolutely sure that my devastating crush for Jacqueline Bisset has its deepest roots in this movie.

Jacqueline Bisset + fish - The Deep (1977) 2

Now, I re-watched it yesterday afternoon, in a pause in my writing, while I enjoyed a big serving of chocolate ice cream with whipped cream.
And truth to be told, with the exception of the underwater footage and Jacqueline Bisset (yes, I’ve still got that crush), this is not a particularly good movie.
It was filmed two years after Jaws, but it does not have the stopping power and the persistence of Spielberg’s movie. Continue reading


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Visit the Mediterranean

mediterranean cruiseWhen I started writing The Corsair, the idea of setting the stories in the Mediterranean area was one of the main premises of the series.
I wanted the glamour, exoticism and variety of the Mediterranean coast, along which three continents meet.

As part of the research for the series, I collected a number of travel posters from the 1930s (the era in which I originally planned to set the series) and the 1950s.
The posters were useful both in determining the main tourist destinations in the area in those years, and in defining a certain atmosphere and style.
Here’s a very small selection.
Enjoy!