East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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What if it wasn’t him?

Something popped up through my socials, and made me think. Yeah, that’s dangerous, I know.
In a nutshell, a person was being very critical (let’s put it this way) of this newfangled habit popular authors have, of getting their books written by anonymous ghostwriters, and then published under their own names.

What would have happened had Dante Alighieri commissioned The Divine Comedy to some anonymous hack? He’d be undeservedly regarded as a genius, while the true genius would have been forgotten!

And it’s true, you know.
Also, it really does not matter.

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Bill Shakes in 2020

Because I needed something different to do (boredom can be a terminal illness in these hills), I have just joined the Shakespeare 2020 Project, a bunch of like-minded individuals that will read the whole of William Shakespeare’s works in the year 2020.
We begin tomorrow, with, quite obviously, Twelfth Night.

In case you are interested in joining the initiative, here is the link.

I think I will post about my adventures in Shakespeare – my brother suggested a podcast, but the more I think about it, the more I understand that I HATE talking to myself in public.
So I’ll write.

And as I am at it, here is the list of what I’ll keep handy throughout the year:

  • The Oxford Complete Works of William Shakespeare
  • The Rough Guide to Shakespeare
  • Asimov’s Guide to Shakespeare, in two volumes

It’s going to be fun.

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How I stopped worrying and learned to love online reviews

Online reviews are a strange thing.
And yet, they are part of the feedback that’s indispensable for authors – no matter if they are traditionally published or self-publishers, or hybrids.
So, yes, just in case, if you happen to read something of mine, please post a review.

Now there’s people that worry about reviews, and I’ve a friend and colleague that makes a point of not reading online reviews. Like, never.
I beg to differ. And while I’m convinced that replying to reviews is never a good idea, I still think keeping an eye on them can be useful.

So last night I was browsing on Goodreads, my book-related-social-network of choice1, when I found out a reader had given a three star rating (but no review) to Lair of the White Ape, the second published story in the Aculeo & Amunet series.

No big deal – after all, five minutes earlier I had found a one-star rating (but again, no review) for Bride of the Swamp God, the first published Aculeo & Amunet story.
We can’t please everybody, after all – and Bride still has nine other 4 or 5 star reviews, so it’s fine.

No, what actually surprised me, about that three stars for Lair, was that the same reviewer also gave three stars to William Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

Now take a long breath.
Davide Mana’s Lair of the White Ape.
William Shakespeare’s The Tempest.
Same evaluation.
Three stars.

That was one of the most important experiences in my – admittedly brief – life as a writer.
Books get reviewed.
If you are lucky, yours will be reviewed.
You can be a faceless hack or William Shakespeare, and the readers will have their say.
And you can’t do anything about it.
So, why worry?2

  1. If you’re on Goodreads, why don’t you come by and say Hi
  2. Well, maybe because the same guy gave four stars to a handbook about “how to blow out her mind in bed”, but I guess we all have different priorities. And if Will Shakespeare’s not complaining, why should I? 


My savvy how fashion do

59fb5c5d-1514-4e94-9fc8-49b29369f01fOne of the fun bits of writing my novel (yes, it’s been a while since last we talked about it) was finding out how my characters speak. The speech-patterns, grammar errors and lexical quirks are something I can use to define and get to know my characters.
Really, I need to listen to them speaking to truly get the characterization right.

And It’s something that has to come naturally – I have to write dialogues, and see what happens, what they’ll come up with.
Get to know, them. Continue reading


Macbeth as a mystery novel

“It was a stupid mistake to make,” said the American woman I had met at my hotel in the English lake country, “but it was on the counter with the other Penguin books – the little sixpenny ones, you know; with the paper covers – and I supposed of course it was a detective story All the others were detective stories.”

truancy2Believe it or not, but the lines above have been haunting me for something like 35 years.

I read them – and the story they belong to – when I was around 12, as I browsed my school anthology trying to keep boredom at bay… why?
I can’t remember.

I just remember I was bored out of my mind, I reading in class, and I chanced upon a story in my reading anthology, and I read it. Continue reading