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Are you by any chance the guy that…?


Yesterday something happened that had never happened before to me: I was discussing a comedy sketch with a friend on her Facebook profile, and one of her contacts joined the discussion. It was all very civil and amusing, until this new person I did not know suddenly went…No, sorry, wait a minute, are you by any chance the guy that wrote The House of the Gods?And I could only confess that yes, I am the guy that wrote The House of the Gods, but I did not do it by chance, it was premeditated. I did it on purpose.She went on to say she had greatly enjoyed my novel, and we sort of became Facebook friends and all that.It’s the first time I am identified by a total stranger as “the guy that wrote t...
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Yet another Valerie


What’s with me and the name Valerie?I do not know – but I know a lot of Valeires have turned out in my stories through the years. Indeed, the female lead in my very first “good” work, back in 1989, was called Valerie. And maybe it was the Quarterflash song of the same name, but I doubt it.Anyway, Valerie Trelawney debuted in society this morning, as my Patrons in the Five Bucks Brigade received the third story in the Seven Lives project – a short called The Case of the Inkmaker’s Daughter. The character will have a more public debut later in 2020, when a second story, celled The Case of the Manchester Mummies, will be published in a big fat anthology together with the work of many writers th...
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The '20s – building a reading list


I need your help to build a reading list of history books about the 1920s.Now, let me explain…I was told, back when I was in the Air Farce, that we cannot learn anything from history, and that history is just a collection of facts put together by the victors, and has no value.I do not think so. I did not think so back then, and I do not think so now. I have been joking about the fact that in a few days the ’20s will be here again: flappers, charleston & foxtrot, and adventure await…That’s what we normally associate to the ’20s – The Great Gatsby and all that.But the ’20s also saw the rise of populism and totalitarianism (read the news, recently?), social and financial crisis and the headlong...
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One last crazy thing before the year is over


I will devote the next six days to writing the last story of the year – or, the fist submission of 2020. I just got a call for an anthology that promises to be fun, and different, and pays professional rates. It couldn’t be better, really, as it ticks off so many great boxes….The basic set-up is for a swashbuckling story, but with a very interesting twist.I get the opportunity to write light fantasy, something that does not happen often these days – no gore, no obscenities or gratuitous ultraviolence, no sociopaths as heroes.I might even try and do some humor – even if humor is hard, it’s the hardest thing to do.I have a hefty 7000-words allowance.Should the story be accepted, I’d have the o...
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Vintage Christmas on Radio Karavansara

Because it’s a few hours away, and in a week’s time the ’20s are about to begin…Original link
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Merry Christmas!


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The first writer that really scared me: Algernon Blackwood


Some things stick in our minds for decades.I was eleven years old or thereabouts when I got my copy of the Italian version of Alfred Hitchcock’s Ghost Gallery, a collection of horror stories (not all of them dealing with ghosts) aimed at a younger audience. Having been raised on Scooby Doo, and an avid reader of The Three Investigators, the idea of a collection of ghost stories was pretty exciting – and I got the book for Christmas that year. It was 1978.Now this was a case of wrong expectations – the spooky stories in the book were none like Scooby Doo or the Three Investigators, and if a couple were quite humorous, like the three entries from Robert Arthur, none of these stories had the ra...
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Quiet, rest and some Flat Earth


It’s the 23rd of December.I have mailed my latest novella to my Patrons, and sent an ebook to a friend as a better substitute for a greeting card. The pantry is stocked, the menus decided for the next days. All the bills have been paid (well, OK, most of them), and there’s money (not much) in the bank. I’ve even bought a sack of treats for the feral cats that will come and sleep in the big box we’ve placed outside.Now I can sit back and relax for a few days.Read a good book, or three.And for starters, as I keep exploring the Fantasy Interregnum and reading old classics I missed or read in bad translation, today I’m settling down with Tanith Lee’s Night’s Master, the first volume in the Tales...
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Greetings from Krasnoyarsk


And so it’s finally done, and delivered to my Patrons – Guillotine Wind, the first Pandora story, was one of the hardest nuts to crack in my multifarious writing career. But it also features – if I do say so myself – some of my best writing.And it’s a first in a series!And it will go on to be part of the Seven Lives Project, and so it will benefit a bunch of stray cats. The cats will dismiss the whole thing like something due to them by divine right, but who knows, some people might like the stories.While I had been toying with the idea of writing a few prequel stories to The Ministry of Thunder, Guillotine Wind came together through what I usually call fuzzy serendipity – some unlikely fact...
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Translating myself


Having closed Guillotine Wind, my latest novella, I am now getting ready to post it to my Patrons – and this means translating it in Italian. Because it is good to be my patrons, and my Italian-speaking supporters get my stories in Italian, just as my English-speaking supporters get them in English.This means a bit of extra work, and the hard part is not translating the text, but conveying the tone and the rhythms. And that is, after all, the crux of translating.I am always dissatisfied with my own translations of my own stories – there is always something missing.Case in point – the title of my latest novella: Guillotine Wind.It’s good, compact and yet intriguing-.Sounds fine.In Italian it ...
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Guillotine Wind: the soundtrack


I like to think of my stories in terms of movies – with a cast, shots and camera angles, and a soundtrack. And as I have just finished Guillotine Wind, I thought I’d publish a selection of songs that have been playing in the back of my mind as I was writing.And so I prepared a cassette.Just follow this link: GUILLOTINE WIND O S TOriginal link
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100.000 views!


While the world was sleeping and the countryside was silent under the rain, Karavansara reached and surpassed the 100.000 views mark for the year 2019.This is a huge result – Karavansara received as many views in 2019 as it had in its first three years of operations together – and I am thankful to all the readers for their interest in my blog.Thank you!To celebrate this landmark, I’ve created a new blog cover, that you can see above. It is based on an ex libris designed by pulp legend Roy G. Krenkel, and it’s going to be the new look for Karavansara in the soon to begin Roaring ’20s.Original link
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A different kind of Jingle Bells

Featuring the Altai band, a very Karavansara-friendly Jingle Bells.Original link
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Gaiman reads Dickens

Because it’s that time of the year, you know…Original link
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The last adventure of the year


The forecast says rain and possibly snow for tomorrow, and I am boarding a train early in the morning to go to Asti, the provincial capital, in what promises to be the last adventure of this year – braving weather and public transport to meet some people for a writing job.One more little step to a better 2020, hopefully.So I am taking along book to read on the train, Kay Kenyon’s At the Table of Wolves, plus pens and a notebook to take notes during my meeting, plus a pocketful of coins for hot drinks machines along the way. As it usually happens when public transport is involved, I’ll spend most of the day waiting for trains and buses, but that’s part of the game. I’ll keep warm and read a b...
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Crypt of Tears trailer

Now I have a good reason to wait for 2020.Original link
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Michael Moorcock at 80


Today is the 80th birthday of British writer Michael Moorcock, and it seems right to write a post about him and his books and the pleasure, insight and fun, and inspiration they have provided me these last 40 years.This will not be a critical assessment or whatever, but just a personal patchwork of strange memories. I’ll also list a few of my favorite books of his, but no more than a dozen.Let’s begin.When I was a kid trying to read all the available fantasy and science fiction I could lay my hands on, there were two authors that had a consistently horrible press in my country: Michael Moorcock and Tanith Lee. It is probably telling that today these are two of my all-time favorite writers.Th...
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Swashbuckling Classic: Errol Flynn

Nothing particularly complicated: just Errol Flynn fighting with a sword, often against Basil Rathbone.Check it out.Original link
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Change in perspective


Last night my PC monitor died. So I went to my father’s den – a room we now use as storage – and retrieved another monitor: as an old PC user, I go by the mantra “always salvage the old hardware.” So in about half an hour I had the new monitor up and running. No sweat.And it’s been a nice step forward – the old monitor was small and cramped, and it had been going progressively darker for months. Not a great problem when writing is concerned, but all my images and covers where someway off. The “new” monitor is an LCD widescreen thing that feels like I’m in the middle of a wide open field. Great.On the other hand, this will cost me two days of work.For some mysterious reason, any time I update...
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1300 Mondays


In the opening chapter of his The Doorstep Mile(that once again, is highly recommended) adventurer Alastair Humphreys writes:I have fewer than 2000 Mondays left to live. I want to make the most of them, not just tick them off.This gave me pause.How many Mondays do I have left?, I wondered. I made some quick calculation, based on my family data.Both my grandfathers died in their early seventies.My father died at seventy-six.On my mother’s side we tend to be more long lived – we usually get in our ’90s if cancer does not get at us earlier.I am 52, so… how many Mondays?Less than 1300 is a good estimate.What am I going to do with them?Humphreys’ idea, presented in his book, is to try and do some...
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