febbraio 25, 2012

Guest post: editing and writing in a second language

Hello, everybody :)! Yesterday, a post of mine went up on Storm Moon Press' blog - about my relationship with editing, and the challenge of writing in a second language. Here's an excerpt from the post:

Writing in a second language

The editing stage – for many writers, it feels harder than actually writing the bloody book. While I am no exception, I find essential for one specific reason: I’m not a native English speaker.

As some of you might already know, I’m Italian, and I moved to London about four years ago to attend university. That’s when I started writing in English, and I have to admit my first attempts were rather disastrous. It wasn’t so much because of mistakes, but rather because of how my Italian language infiltrated my use of English. (...)

This problem translates to fiction writing, too. My sentences are forever lengthy; while they might not be grammatically wrong, they have unconventional structures, which sound odd to native English speakers. Also, I tend to use lots of latin-derived words, because they’re very similar to common Italian words: it was only after annoying many a reader that I realized that they sound like pompous purple prose in English. For example, concupiscence = concupiscienza; perspicacious = perspicace; malediction = maledizione. The almost synonyms lust, smart, and curse don’t come naturally to me, and before someone pointed it out, I never even suspected that my choice of words might be unusual.

These Italianisms aren’t my only challenge. I harbour a burning hatred towards prepositions, that I never seem to get right; I tend to mix up idiomatic expressions, or to try and translate Italian ones and end up with stuff that doesn’t really make sense. But most of all, I have issues with the little details that are conventions rather than actual rules – the ones that aren’t technically wrong, but sound wrong anyway. And the thing is, I can’t see these mistakes: I need someone to point them out for me. I can’t tell if I sound Italian, or if I’m making someone sound like they’re from Dublin rather than from Manchester or Alabama. These are all nuances of the language that can only be picked up living immersed in it. I know them perfectly in Italian: but while I’ve been living abroad for a few years, I’m definitely still struggling with them in English.

Read the rest of the post HERE.

febbraio 24, 2012

New release: The Ronin and the Fox

Hello, everyone :)!
I have great news - my second novella, The Ronin and the Fox is out today with Storm Moon Press! This story took a long, tortuous path before being born. I started planning it in summer 2010, for an anthology centered on fantastical creatures. I immediately knew that I wanted to deal with a kitsune, the trickster fox spirits from Japanese mythology. However, it soon became evident that there was no way that I would fit everything in a short story, so I abandoned the project for a while, busy chasing after a billion deadlines, both for publishers and for uni. Before I had the time to notice it, a year had passed, and I stumbled across the WIP and thought to myself - now it's your turn, buddy... :)

In feudal Japan, Kaede Hajime lives as a vagabond ronin, a samurai without a lord. As he spends the night at a village's inn, the innkeeper begs him to help stop a mischevious kitsune, a fox spirit, plaguing their village. But when he captures the spirit—in the form of a hauntingly beautiful man—Hajime learns that the kitsune has troubles of his own. The pearl that contains the fox's soul has been stolen, leaving him a slave to the new owner, who is forcing him to attack the village.

Hajime agrees to help the fox retrieve the jewel, but living with a fox spirit isn't easy, and the budding trust between them is constantly tested. Kitsune are tricksters above all, and Hajime must decide how much of the story the fox tells him is truth. What's worse, an old comrade of Hajime's is in town, bringing with him the sour memories of Hajime's time as a samurai. Hajime must find a way to locate the thief and steal back the jewel before the thief turns the kitsune's considerable power against him.

You can grab a copy on Storm Moon Press' website!

Here's an excerpt from the story ;)!


Hajime flexed his fingers, trying to warm them up, before resting them on his katana. The night air was cool. Gravel crunched too loudly under his boots as he walked across the village's alleys.

He'd been patrolling the town for three nights, and still nothing. During the daytime, he'd explored the bamboo forest surrounding the village, setting a number of traps between the tall bamboo stalks where the ground appeared recently trampled. He'd spoken to several villagers, alerting them of his intentions and giving them instructions on how to behave at night. He was sure they would obey. No one would dare disobey the orders of a samurai, and even though he wasn't exactly... any longer... Damn. They would listen to him, and that was enough.

Hajime had never before met a fox spirit. The trickster spirits haunted houses and villages, stealing food and whatever tickled their fancies from the inhabitants. They could shift shape as they pleased, possess people, and ensnare a man's mind with their charms and illusions. Hajime had heard that they could change a field into a kingdom or a cave into a sumptuous palace. They could create pockets in reality and trap a man there for years if they so chose. Hajime fingered the deep red silk ribbon securely fastened around his right wrist. He'd received it from Tanaka-san. The man claimed a priest had blessed it years before, and that it would grant Hajime protection against the fox's enchantments. Hajime hoped he was right. He was not keen on losing his mind and spending the next decade frolicking in a cave at the mercy of some horrific spirit.

The sharp sound of a bell broke the quiet.
On to the chase - read the rest of the excerpt!

febbraio 14, 2012

Guest post on mythology :)

Hello, everyone :)! So, even though it feels like the year began just yesterday, we're already halfway through February. I've completed my degree, and I'm waiting for the results of the final exams to come out - I'm kind of still trying to wrap my mind around that! I'm working as a traslator, working on two novellas and researching before preparing a novel proposal. I should also be looking for an internship, and I'll need to figure out how to cram more work in my days - is there anywhere I can buy extra hours?

In other news, I'm over at Top 2 Bottom Reviews talking about my love for mythology, and how I like to incorporate that in my writing - in particular, how the Japanese mythological creature kitsune features in my upcoming novella, The Ronin and the Fox :).

Here's an excerpt of the post:

Every time I tell someone that I’ve just completed a degree in Creative Writing, they ask if that means I’m a journalist, and the answer is, not even remotely. Journalists deal with the real world, every second. Creative Writing students usually suck at journalism, for a simple reason: we don’t do reality.

Personally, apart from full-on fantasy, I love writing about alternative versions of reality. I love steampunk, post-apocalyptic, and I have a soft spot for magical realism. I love taking the real world and adding a layer of magical dust on top, little surprising things hiding in unexpected corners, eyes peering from under a mushroom, a talking pigeon with a pocket watch… I think that’s why I’m so fond of mythology: it’s the result of men adding that layer of magic and mystery, fear and excitement, to the world they lived in...

Read the rest of the post HERE.