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The Rhythm Section: I’m reading the book, I saw the movie


In the long, too-long list of my interests, I usually put, somewhere halfway through, espionage and spycraft. I grew up in a time when the movie franchise was James Bond, not Star Wars, and the idea that one day the epitome of awesome would be movies based on comic books was laughable. And while I never became a compulsive spy story reader, I have enjoyed the genre a lot, in a very scattershot manner – I read Bond and Modesty Blaise, sure, I tried and ditched SAS, I went through the whole Len Deighton catalog between the end of high school and the start of university, I read my Graham Greene and my Le Carré. I read Trevanian, I know Three Days of the Condor by heart. A few weeks back I caugh...
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  139 Hits

All that Weird Jazz


I am pleased to announce that the anthology All That Weird Jazz, published by the fine guys at Pro Se Productions, is available in both paperback and ebook, and it’s a collection of hits, featuring nine stories by Kimberly Richardson, MA Monnin, Ernest Russell, EW Farnsworth, James Hopwood, McCallum J. Morgan, Mark Barnard, and Sharae Allen. And one by me. As a long time fan of jazz music, it was a pleasure and a privilege being part of this team, and I hope you guys will enjoy this fine selection of weird fiction. Original link
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Occult investigators


I am sure I wrote in the past about how much I would have liked to write a series about a paranormal detective or an occult investigator. The sub-genre has a long and well-established tradition, and there’s a few excellent books out there, and quite a few series worth checking out. Of all the collections out there, one of my favorite is probably Mark Valentine’s The Black Veil & Other Tales of Supernatural Sleuths, that Wordsworth Classics published in their line Tales of Mystery and the Supernatural. The stories in the volume are old – most of them are Victorian or Edwardian – and from lesser-known authors, but that’s part of the fun. A quick check on Amazon reveals that the book is no long...
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  121 Hits

Never gonna be the same


No, not the minor hit for Scottish band Danny Wilson. I was reading an article on the plight of the poor fiction writer, relentless purveyor of narratives for the entertainment and the edification of the hoi polloi. You see, not only your garden variety fiction writer is locked up in their house, with the stress and anxiety of seeing the system slowly trying to cope with a change that was expected but ignored, and often failing in the attempt. Not only the writer has to deal with insomnia, increasing alienation, the pneumatic void of most social media contents and the bills that keep piling up as the bank account dwindles. No, the fiction writer has to deal with the fact that our world and o...
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  134 Hits

Elves and revolution


Never liked the guys myself.Elves, I mean.Certainly the responsibility rests mostly with Tolkien, but really it was playing D&D that fuelled my antipathy for the elves. Maybe it’s because we never met a poor elf, a down-on-their-luck elf, a working stiff elf. No, the guys were always clean-cut and haughty, with their magic bonuses, their blade-dancing, their artifacts of power and what else. Later, Shadowrun nailed the whole thing, by portraying elves as an elite, and other metahumans – especially orcs and trolls – as discriminated minorities. Now, I tend to take the accusation of an “inherent racism” in fantasy with a grain of salt, but there’s no doubt that when you write that there’s a wh...
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  163 Hits

A candle in a tomb


According to an old saying among Chinese grave robbers, “The living light the candle and the ghosts blow it out”. That’s my story and I’m sticking it… or rather, that’s Chinese fantasy author Zhang Muye’s story, and by sticking to it, his first novel in the Candle in the Tomb series got six million online readers, and when it later was printed, it sold half a million copies.More volumes followed, then an online videogame, and it was quite obvious that the movie people would come along soon afterwards.Films were made, and then TV adaptations. And last night, as I was once again dealing with my insomnia, I went through the first five episodes of 2016 the web-series that was based on Zhang Muye...
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  122 Hits

Honor Blackman


I have just learned of the passing away of Honor Blackman, that was Cathy Gale in The Avengers, and later went on to star in a movie in another popular espionage franchise. She was 94.Yet another piece of my past that vanishes. Original link
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Civilization is Overrated: Hunting the Beast of the Gévaudan


I mentioned Brotherhood of the Wolf in yesterday’s post, and then realized that apparently I never wrote about that movie, that I saw in 2001 in a movie theatre in Turin together with my brother. We went to the first show in the afternoon, packing chips and some lemonade, and we had a lot of fun. Twenty years on, a director’s cut has been published, and so I went and checked it out again.So, let’s see what this is all about. And for starters, a bit of history – between 1764 and 1767, in the province of Gévaudan (South-Central France) an animal later identified as a wolf, or a dog, or a wolf-dog hybrid, went on a rampage, attacking an estimate (based on a 1987 study) 210 people, killing 113 a...
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  128 Hits

Regime Diabolique


In these confused times, a lot of friends of mine have found a way to relieve part of the pressure by, as they say, “exorcising” the fear of the pandemic by a steady diet of post-apocalyptic fiction – zombie movies, TV series about viruses and the collapse of civilization, novels and comics about crumbling cities and lone survivors. And it’s all good and fine, if that works for them – it just does not work for me. And I am keeping myself up with old pulp adventures, sword & sorcery and space operas, and classic swashbucklers. And last night I was checking out what’s new on DriveThruRPGs and I found a massive discount on a game I know and I’ve wanted to play forever.A complete game for 5 buck...
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  221 Hits

The Process


The idea for this series of posts came to me after viewing a video by an American jazz musician, music teacher and vlogger I follow (Adam Neely, you find his videos here), and from the reading of an article I found while following up on some of Adam’s contents. The article is Music Theory and the Epistemology of the Internet; or, Analyzing Music Under the New Thinkpiece Regime, by William O’Hara, published in 2018. Both the video and the article made me think about how information on creative/artistic pursuits is represented online. I was in particularly striuck by Adam Neely’s description of his “working musician” videos as “heist movies” in style – videos in which, just like in, say, Ocean...
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  30 Hits

Juan Giménez


Apparently, Coronavirus took away from us Juan Giménez, of Metabarons and Metal Hurlant fame.Another small piece of my youth that slips away.He will be missed. Original link
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After-dinner in the Crypt of Tears


Sometimes it’s good to have friends in Australia – here I am, sitting in the middle of nowhere while my country and much of the rest of the world is in lockdown, and yet I was able to pass an evening with the always delectable Hon. Phryne Fisher. And it was – interesting. For the uninitiated, Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears is the first feature film based on the mystery novels by Kerry Underwood and the TV series that was made based on Underwood characters.The general premise: the last survivor of an aristocratic British family mostly killed off in the Great War, Australia-born adventuress Phryne Fisher becomes extravagantly wealthy and decides to set up a detective agency in Melbourne. W...
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  117 Hits

Dusting off my French with Arsène Lupin


I have talked in the past about how, to Italian kids of my generation, Arsène Lupin, the character created at the turn of the last century by Maurice Leblanc, was a timely and much welcome introduction to tongue-in-cheek adventure and good-natured rule-breaking, jazz, sophistication and beautiful women, thanks to a wonderful TV series featuring the excellent Georges Descrières in the role of the gentleman thief.Indeed, Descrières as Lupin and Patrick Macnee as John Steed have a lot to answer about how I turned out as a person. Later came the Lupin books, often in strange translations and abridged editions to make them suitable for young readers, and later still the movies, but everything sta...
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  127 Hits

And so, tonight we fly


June 1935. While the second unit for Panthaira, Queen of the Amazons (Amalgamated Productions*) completes the filming of a bit of local color in Lima, Peru, the film director, the producer and the female lead, together with some members of the technical cast, will fly to Manaus, Brazil, for a publicity shot and a bit of location scouting along the Rio Negro. But things will take an unexpected turn, in The Treasure of Aguirre – episode 1: Flight of the Tin Goose. (*with a nod and a wink to my friend Andrea Sfiligoi) Original link
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The Friends of Mr Cairo


Joel Cairo is a character in Dash Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon, and was portrayed by Peter Lorre in the 1941 movie, John Huston’s debut as a director, featuring Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade. The movie is, of course, an absolute classic, and a seminal proto-noir, and I’ve watched it a dozen times. The friends of Mr Cairo in the movie are the unsavoury, obsessed people that hunt for the Falcon, and have no compunction when it comes to killing. On a completely different note, The Friends of Mr Cairo is the title of an album from 1981, the second collaboration between Jon Anderson, better known as the voice of Yes, and producer and composer Vangelis of Chariots of Fire fame. The album features a...
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  130 Hits

Two nights in Arkham


Lovecraft purists often frown at Lovecraft-inspired fiction. The main charge raised by these people is, other writers are either too much like Lovecraft or not at all like him, often at the same time. The second most common accusation is that certain stories are too action-centered and adventure-oriented, filled with guns blazing and chanting cultists. They usually blame Lovecraft’s popularity with the gaming crowd as the main reason for these degenerate pastiches, in which Indiana Jones or Doc Savage seem to exert an influence stronger than Nyarlathotep’s. But I do like a bit of Lovecraft-flavored pulp adventure – and I do not mind action, gun-play and tongue-in-cheek name dropping.I guess ...
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  45 Hits

Where the streets have no name


As I mentioned a few days back, I am working on my (first?) story for the Pro Se Productions “St Germain Project”, in which I will have to give new life to a character that was first and last published in 1938 – if she was actually published at all, because as it was explained to me, the publisher practically died as the first issues of its various magazines were en-route between the printing presses and the newsstands. So I am working on notes based on what we know, and as it usually happens in these cases, there are a few things we know in high detail, and quite a lot that are necessarily vague.And some were kept vague by choice – such as, the city in which the action takes place. If you t...
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  36 Hits

India & California

A little music today.It’s Sunday, after all.Let’s relax and enjoy…(this one goes well with Hope & Glory, my Indian steampunk roleplaying game) Original link
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Enough of this


When this whole quarantine/lockdown started, I set out to write a mini-series of short stories, 4 stories in 8 days. It was fun, sort of a show of strength. I wrote and published the first three in less than a week, and then all of a sudden the body count started rising, and we were all locked up at home, and I decided the last of the series could wait. Meanwhile, over my social networks, everybody tarted publishing post-apocalyptic stories about viruses, pandemics and assorted infections. And I sort of got tired of the game. It’s a method to exorcise the fear and the anxiety, sure – but as people keep dying and jobs vanish leaving people with bills and mortgages to pay, anxiety and fear can...
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  124 Hits

Murder in the countryside


It all started with a nice article on CrimeReads, about British cozy mystery TV series we could binge-watch during the lockdown. Because, really, what’s better than having a cup of tea and two biscuits, and watch some gruesome murder being investigated in Britain’s green and pleasant land. Now I like mysteries and I like cozy mysteries when they don’t get too silly or saccharine – and I have tried, once or twice, to write one, but find the genre very hard to pull in a convincing manner. A pity, because from the look of the Amazon lists, cozy mystery is one of those genres that never get old, and always find readers. Currently they seem to be filled with witches and cats playing detective, bu...
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  127 Hits