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Tudor Ghosts (or maybe worse)

There is no doubt Phil Rickman is currently my favorite horror/thriller author, a title he shares with Peter Straub. I like his language and his style of storytelling, his settings and his characters, his ability in mixing tradition and modernity. His The Man in the Moss is one of my favorite horrors (and I will have to re-read it one of these nights) and I normally keep a few Rickman books in one of my emergency boxes, and when the moon is high and the nights are cold, I happily go looking for one of his chillers. Original link
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Easter Weekend

It’s the Easter Weekend, that here in my country will be followed by the Republic Day – a long week of minimal activity. The plan was to settle down and start writing my next novel, but today I was so poorly I wasted most of the afternoon laying in bed and looking at the ceiling. Not a good start. On the plus side, I have a few nice books to read, the pantry is reasonably full and with a modicum of twists and turns I’ll be able to pay my bills in time again this month. It’s all good and fine. I will probably postpone work on the novel, but I have stories in the making. One of them is called “On the Black Ley”, and another is “Wolf’s Paw” – both are working titles and both are pretty sucky as...
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In the dark


This is probably one of those “funny and surreal” things that happen in the everyday life of a writer and that I was told I should share to further my platform and extend my reach or something. So, here goes. In the last two months we have been exchanging a lot of very frustrating mails and calls with our power provider – a power bill we were expecting in January never materialized, lost who knows where, and we wanted to know how much was the amount we were supposed to pay. After two months of comings and goings, yesterday morning we finally got our answer – in the form of a pretty menacing letter informing us our payment was overdue, and that we had twenty days based on the date of the lett...
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Monkey Punch, 1937-2019


And the bad news keep coming, so much so that this blog is beginning to look like the obituaries page on some newspaper. I have learned only today of the death, on the 11th of April, of Japanese cartoonist Kazuhiko Katō, better known as Monkey Punch, the author of the 1967 Lipin III manga series on which the animated series and movies (and video games and what else) where later based. Lupin III was part of the first wave of Japanese animation that hit my country at the end of the 70s. The first series, from 1971-72, debuted in Italy in 1979, and it was different. In a scene that was all giant robots and little orphans (with the occasional space pirate who had adopted a little orphan), Lupin ...
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A magic primer


I have just delivered the last chapter of a big job to the editor, I have spent one hour revising a translation (more work on it tomorrow), and tonight after dinner I will try and write a 1500-words flash-fiction to answer an open call. Maybe. Maybe I will just go on and follow up on my before-dinner reading. To celebrate the closing of the big one, I have cracked open a book I have had here for a while, Philip Carr-Gomm and Richard Heygate’s The Book of English Magic, that I bought a few months back and has been here tempting me all along. The volume covers what it says on the tin: magic, as traditionally practiced in England. No Wales, no Scotland. Only Ye Merrie Englande and its magickal ...
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Gene Wolfe, 1931-2019


We have lost Gene Wolfe, the author of The Book of the New Sun and many other masterful novels and short stories. He was 87. The Book of the New Sun is one of the books that made me what I am, and an endless source of wonder and surprises – I was about to start my re-read, a tradition I have been carrying out every other year for these last ten years. This time around, it will have a further meaning. And for the rest of this year 2019, I will do all I can to get the volumes that I still miss to complete my Gene Wolfe collection. We have lost a master, I have lost a teacher and an inspiration. Original link
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The blues and the Etruscans


My day started with a mail informing me that a story of mine has been shortlisted for an international anthology. Now we’ll wait for the second round of selection. To quote the poet Some will win Some will lose Some were born To sing the blues Journey It was a good start: in two days two stories of mine have been accepted (well, almost, in one case) counterbalancing the two that bounced back a few days ago. Meanwhile, I received two other interesting calls: one that offers an opening in an anthology about witchcraft and romance – and writing it would be great, because it would allow me to explore a sub-genre I am not very familiar with (and it’s always fun to write out of our comfort zone)on...
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The Avengers


I’m posting this here simply because it’s a beautiful photo. Original link
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Odds and Ends #14


The members of the Five Bucks Brigade have just received the 14th issue of Odds and Ends, this week a huge collection of books: a nice fantasy novella and a cartload of thrillers, all for free, a masterful science fantasy novel, and a learned essay on Victorian monsters. Plus Genghis Khan, and a dark conspiracy. Because it’s good to be my patrons. Original link
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Do You Believe In Magic?

Pimply Wizard
While perusing the endless posts of writers seeking help and advice on social media, I’ve run across some who ask, “How can I make magic work in my story?” Many established authors have broached the subject and invented unique methods, but new writers want to make something fresh. A young wizard The real question is: What is a fantasy story without magic? Of the top of my head, I can’t think of any high fantasy stories that don’t include magic of some kind. J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, Neil Gaiman, Robert Jordan, and so many more authors have included magic in their stories. Each of these authors approaches the use of magic in their own way, and applies their own limits to its use. For exam...
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Artist Explorer


Edwin Lord Weeks (1849-1903) was an American painter, the son of a well-to-do spice merchant. He studied art in Paris and in his life he traveled extensively in Asia and the Middle East, and produced a large number of paintings in what is known as the Orientalist style. I originally found out about him when I was looking for paintings as documentation for my Hope & Glory game, and was impressed by the incredibly precise portraits and by the vibrant colors of his works. In 1892, Edwin Lord Weeks planned a visit in Persia, and the subsequent voyage was fraught with incidents and unexpected changes of program. This is the subject of Artist Explorer: a ride through Persia to India in 1892, an ex...
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Rules are made to be broken

I’ve just broken one of my most strict rules: I’ve sent a story to a magazine that will not pay me for my work. I just gave away a story for free. This is something that should not be done – the writer must be paid, this is my firm conviction, the rule that has allowed me to keep afloat these last three years. It has not made me many friends, but it has paid my bills. I am usually very bad with writers that give away their work for free. So why did I do it? Because it’s a project by a band of art students, that are trying to get their new magazine off the ground, and back when I was a student I did contribute to a number of fanzine and other fly-by-night projects, and I feel a great affectio...
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Raiders of the Lost Franchise: The Shadow (1994)


This is one of the two movies that really got us all excited when we learned they were in the making, one that we expected with increasing trepidation. And it is really one of the great missed opportunities of franchise-making cinema – in a parallel universe somewhere, the Marvel Cinematic Universe doesn’t exist, and kids go crazy about the Shadowverse. Or something. But this is not that universe. And if I have to explain to you who and what The Shadow is, you are on the wrong blog. One of the most iconic and long-lived pulp characters, The Shadow has been a radio drama host/character, the hero of 325 novels, and has appeared in comics and films for almost a century. When the 1994 movie was ...
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Real Writer’s Essentials


I have finally achieved one of the mainstays of the Real Writer’s curriculum: a fine collection of rejection slips. The gist is the same for all of them: the editor really enjoyed my story – great ideas, nice twist, quirky language – but they did not enjoy it enough to publish it. In the last 24 hours two stories bounced back. Flash fiction, little more than 1000 words between the two. One was instantly revised and sent to another possible market, the second is still here, all 300 words of it, while I look for a suitable venue. I’ve been writing a lot this last four weeks, work for hire mostly, and this has caused a lull in my submission process. I need to write more stories to submit, I nee...
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Two hours in another world


A few days back, a contact of mine posted on his Facebook a sign that read “Say no to fantasy”. I wondered why, but I did not feel like starting a discussion that would be, ultimately, pointless. It’s certainly a fact that a lot of drivel is published in the fantasy genre, but there’s exactly the same amount of drivel published in any other field. Theodore Sturgeon had something to say about that. Anyway I’ve just spent two hours reading a beautiful fantasy novella – part of my shopping spree last Christmas. It’s called Thief of War, by Beth Bernobich, an author I had never read before, but that I will certainly read again. Great story, great sense of place, a poignant story without being sa...
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I’m not Rick


The Karavansara Speakeasy is officially open on MeWe . I’ve set up a group for the readers and followers of this blog, and for all those that enjoy my books and games. I consider it a sort of looser version of my Patreon page, without the perks, but free. And better suited for chatting. The place can be found here . It is not the first time I start something without having a good idea of what I am doing, but hey, it’s all in the name of progress and evolution, right? The idea is to build a community outside of Facebook – the thing I hate is, anything I post on the Karavansara page on Facebook will be seen by 10% of the subscribers to that page. It’s idiotic. I prefer MeWe by far – it feels l...
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Five books that got me started


Over at her place, my friend Jessica Bakkers posted a list of the six books that made her what she is, as a writer . Great idea. It’s fun, it’s easy to put together in the form of a post, and we are always ready to learn more about the writers we follow, and maybe find out a few new books to read. So, why not steal Jessica’s idea? Now, I actually already did something similar , a while back, listing the authors that had most influenced me. The ones I wish I was as good as. A shortened list, one that I could (and maybe will) expand. But let’s look at this thing from another angle. I started writing in high school. The causes have already been debated elsewhere: nerdy kid, likes books and stor...
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The scholar first, the fictionist second


Today marks the 57th anniversary of the death of Harold Lamb, one of the patron saints of Karavansara. He was a writer of pulp fiction – a lot of his works were published in Adventure – much admired by Robert E. Howard among others, that later became so famous as an author of biographies and historical novels that his lighter and more adventurous side was almost completely forgotten. He did work with Cecil Be Demille on his The Crusades, as a historical consultant. It is not the first time I mention him here on Karavansara, and I am sure WordPress will add links at the bottom of this page. Curiously enough, in my house the first reader of Lamb was my mother, that as a young woman working as ...
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Poetry Month


Turns out April is the Poetry Month. It must be the spring. As a direct consequence of this, I received a list of 25 publishers that accept poetry this month, and I find myself thinking… hmmm, 50 bucks per page! Yes, my poetic spirit sits very close to my wallet, these days. But it’s not proper to be so cynic. I never wrote poetry. This might be a good opportunity to try. After all, wasn’t that the gist of the excellent guide to poetry by Stephen Fry I read a while back? So, why not giving a try? The last time I attempted something poetic was – ouch, in 1986. During my final high school exam, I was asked to translate in Italian Keat’s Ode on a Grecian Urn. And being young and (let’s admit it...
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The Fourth Bette Davis Blogathon: The Watcher in the Woods (1980)


My brain is a sieve, and I was almost forgetting today it’s the last day of the Fourth Bette Davis Blogathon , hosted by In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood. I blame the spring. But all is not lost, and here is my late-night contribution. Be sure to check out the link above to find a wealth of other posts on the movies of the woman that was called The First Lady of Hollywood. But then come back here, because this late-night post is filled with things that go bump in the dark: we’ll be talking about Walt Disney’s horror The Watcher in the Woods, from 1980. The film that was to be Disney’s response to The Exorcist. I kid you not. The fans talk about a Disney Dark Age, that stretched from...
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