Thomas Harris: the father of Hannibal Lecter

I still remember that night when, sitting on my bed, I was reading the scene of “The Silence of the Lambs” where Clarice enters Buffalo Bill’s house.
I had palpitations.
And I’m not kidding.

I have read many books in my life, some really beautiful and exciting, but only “The Silence of the Lambs” made me feel that way. As I read it, I was Clarice and, between fear and horror, I was exploring the house in search of the senator’s daughter. I was also that girl (I cannot remember her name) who, locked in the well, begged Clarice not to leave her alone. But Clarice must first find the serial killer, so that both were safe.

All the novels by Thomas Harris, even if they are only five, have yielded in me the same effect: I felt inside the story, and I felt compelled to read at any time, whatever I was doing.
No author has ever managed to capture me so much with their prose to push me to read out from the usual places and times that I devote to this activity. There is something unique in his way of narrating that is in perfect harmony with me, without the slightest smear, so when I am asked about my favourite author, I mean the very first one in my ranking, the answer is only one: Thomas Harris.
The others come much later.

We don’t know much about him, as he is a very discreet person, elusive to the media. We know that in thirty years he wrote five books and that more than ten have passed since the last one. Each of them was turned into a successful movie; actually two movies came from his second book “Red Dragon”. Apparently he told Stephen King that writing for him is a proper torture and this explains why he isn’t very prolific.
In my small way I understand him perfectly. Writing is really a torture, but of course he is luckier than me, because he can afford a little more than a book for decades, given the success they have!

Like many, I learned about him with “The Silence of the Lambs”, but my favourite of his books is “Hannibal”, where the figure of Lecter, the perfect anti-hero, is shown in all its splendour to the reader. It is no coincidence that Dr. Hannibal Lecter, the serial killer also known as The Cannibal, for the habit of eating some organs of his victims, is also my favourite literary character.
What I love about Harris’s writing is his incredible ability to develop a character with clear negative connotations, but still be able to let me love it. No one like him can distort the very concept of good and evil.
In “Hannibal” in particular there is no good guy in the strict sense. There is so much evil in the characters that Lecter becomes the hero in all respects. And the way what dwells in his mind (the palace of memory) is shown makes me understand his motivations, why he became what he is, up to immerse myself in him and accept his actions, his malice.

Harris has shown me that a true villain like Lecter (and he is without a doubt a true villain, since there is no remorse in him nor the minimum search for redemption) can be the hero of a novel, appreciated and recognised as that by so many readers.

Lecter makes his first and brief appearance in “Red Dragon”. The first film based on this novel is “Manhunter” starring William Petersen (Gil Grissom from CSI), where Lecter, here oddly named Lecktor, is played by Brian Cox. Its second film adaptation, “Red Dragon” starring Edward Norton, instead shows Anthony Hopkins reprising his role in 2002 after “The Silence of theLambs” (1991), for which he won an Oscar in 1992 as best actor (the Academy also awarded Jodie Foster as Clarice, director Jonathan Demme, screenwriter Ted Tally, and the film itself), and “Hannibal” (2001).
The last novel in the series, “Hannibal Rising”, was published in 2006 and narrates the youth of the character. The story of Hannibal, however, ends with “Hannibal” (published in 1999), which has a completely different ending from that of the film.
A TV series was also dedicated to this character, “Hannibal”.

Before the Lecter Series, Harris wrote “Black Sunday” (1975), a novel that narrates about a terrorist attack with a dirigible against New Orleans stadium, where the Super Bowl is taking place. Even in this one the author investigates the minds of the villains, showing without any filter the logic of their intentions and actions to the reader.
I remember I started reading the book in 2001 and then I was forced to temporarily stop reading after the attacks of September 11, because it appeared too realistic to me. Then I picked it up again years later and finished it in a few days.

After “Hannibal Rising” I wondered what Harris could ever write, because the Lecter series seemed complete. Of course, there would be much to tell between the end of this novel and the beginning of “Red Dragon”, but I don’t know to what extent it would make sense to write a book out of it. Lecter is already perfect this way. Actually, I’d be curious to know what other frightening characters dwell in Harris’s mind. I would like to meet them.

I have no idea what Harris is doing now, but I sincerely hope that he is torturing himself at least one last time so as to give us another beautiful piece of his work.

Thoughts by Anakina: an alternative way to connect with me

As you may know I have a regular mailing list, with which I keep my readers posted about new book releases, promotions, and giveaway.
The problem with this mailing list is that more than 90% of the subscribers ended up in it after getting a free e-book and not because they really wanted to keep in touch with me. That’s why I send my newsletter just when I have some news related to new publications and promotions. Once I do that, I also add a link to the latest articles posted on this blog, but I don’t put anything personal, because this is not the reason why people subscribed to or ended up in the list in first place.

Now I decided to create a brand new mailing list, which I called Thoughts by Anakina, dedicated to real readers of my books who are interested to know what I’m involved in, but also to get my tips about books, TV series, movies, my life here in Sardinia (do you know where Sardinia is?) and more things that I like, and fun stuff related to my books and characters.
Of course I will add a note to this newsletter when I publish a new book in English and I will point out to the relevant link with further detail, but the purpose of Thoughts by Anakina is that I can keep in touch with those of you who really want to keep in touch with me.
You won’t get many of these emails and they won’t be long, but I’ll try to make them interesting. I promise.

Moreover, later on, subscribers to this mailing list will receive some exclusive free stuff!

Do you want to enter my little club?

Some people have already subscribed: thank you, my dear readers and friends! As of today, I haven’t started yet to send my messages, but I will start soon.

My messages (except those including exclusive free stuff, which only subscribers will receive) will then appear on the archive site, i.e. the same one where you can subscribe. They will appear as sent from my e-mail address: carla@anakina.net. Save it in your address book. You can also email me any time.

Why don’t you give it a try?
And if you get bored, you can unsubscribe with a click.

“The Mentor” on sale for $2 throughout February (US & Canada only)

Mina was there when they killed her family.
Now the time has come for her to kill them all.


If you live in the USA or Canada, you have a new chance to meet Detective Eric Shaw and his pupil for a very low price. “The Mentor” (Kindle edition) is on sale on Amazon for $2, instead of $5.99, until the end of February.

Get your copy on: http://smarturl.it/mentor

This crime thriller set in London is the first one in the Detective Eric Shaw Trilogy, which narrates the story of a Scotland Yard forensics detective who finds out that a person he loves is a serial killer.
The following books, “Syndrome” (already published in Italian) and “Beyond the Limit” (to be published in Italian in May), will be published in English in 2018-2019. In the meantime you can get the first book at this special price.


More about “The Mentor”.


Detective Eric Shaw, chief of a forensics team at Scotland Yard, together with Murder Investigation Team Detective Miriam Leroux, is investigating the death of a previous offender, killed by two pistol shots: one at his neck, in a style recalling an unusual execution, but preceded by another shot at his groin, which seems having a more personal implication.
However, his attention at work is often distracted by criminologist Adele Pennington, a beautiful woman more than two decades his junior, by whom he realises he is attracted, though his feelings aren’t returned.
Meanwhile, the details about a very similar crime are described in an anonymous blog, unbeknownst by the London police. The author of the blog signs herself Mina, like one of the victims in a case Shaw investigated many years ago.


This book is also available in paperback and audiobook.


Start reading “The Mentor” right now: http://smarturl.it/mentor

The Black Echo - Michael Connelly

***** The first Bosch is never forgotten

I had never read anything by Connelly in the past and I admit that I was attracted to this series because it was brought to my attention by the existence of a TV series produced by Amazon Studios. Apart from that I knew nothing of the main character, Harry Bosch, nor had I read the book description of this first novel. I just decided to take it and read it, and then defer the judgments to a later time.
Well, it was love at first sight.
I quickly managed to create a strong bond with this character, so flawed as to be a perfect anti-hero. Harry drinks too much, smokes too much, sleeps little, eats little, is unruly, which led him to be exiled in Hollywood Homicide Squad. But Harry is clever, stubborn, has a great intuition, which in the past has earned him considerable success. Despite his life has become problematic, he does everything to accomplish his job, in particular, as it happens in this book, if he realises that somehow he ended up involved in the case.
In fact this is not a mystery, but a crime thriller. The degree of involvement of the protagonist with both the victim and one of those responsible for their death makes him an integral part of the main plot, thus making the character undergo a growth over the course of story.
It is also true that the disappointment he incurs (I don’t specify the reason of such disappointment, to avoid spoilers) could block this process and causes that the character is repeated as such in the subsequent books, but the existence of a complex subplot gives me hope.
I found very interesting the historical reconstruction relative to the tunnel rats in Vietnam. Something I appreciate a lot in the novels I read is their ability to teach me something unexpected and “The Black Echo” succeeded in that, too.
I also find it suggestive to read a story set in a time when people still used the landline to communicate, there were no cell phones, and computer access was difficult even for a police detective. All this makes the investigation most complex and compelling.
The introspection of the character is magnificent. One cannot but love him and want to know more.
The plot is super intricate, never falls into banality, forcing you to read very carefully throughout the novel.
The structure in long parts (divided in the few days when the story takes place) pushes you to read as much as possible and so the novel runs off fast, despite the large number of pages.
Personally I found it as a great inspiration when writing a book of mine characterised by a similar mood, and this discovery was for me like the icing on the cake, which made it an even more satisfying read.
So, in general I can say that it is a great novel, and I will no doubt read the next ones.


The Black Echo on Amazon.

Another Earth: is a second chance really possible?

There are so many good movies that don’t arrive to our local theatres and which you hardly hear about. “Another Earth” (2011) is one of them. But if on 24 July 2011 I had not read a very short post by Gary Lightbody (lead singer of Snow Patrol), who claimed he wanted to see it and enclosed a link to the trailer, I would hardly have thought of looking for it among the many possible choices on Sky TV or other sources.

Instead it took a very short post to intrigue me, but then the film stayed there for years before I decided to watch it.

It is an independent film, so don’t expect amazing special effects or a large cast, but at the same time you can rest assured that you’ll be amazed, because, being released from the logic of blockbusters, which must be a success to cover the enormous costs to produce them, independent films (a bit like the works of independent musicians or independent authors) have the privilege of being able to dare.
The film is directed by Mark Cahill, a little-known director of three independent films (of which this is the second one).
The role of the female protagonist is entrusted to Brit Marling, who later starred in such films as “Arbitrage” (in which she played the daughter of Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon) and “The Company You Keep” (Robert Redford).
The male protagonist is played by William Mapother, whom TV series fans will remember as Ethan Rom in “Lost”, but who hangs about big cinema productions, although in smaller roles, since 1989.

At first glance the plot would seem that of a science fiction film or more generally of a film that is part of the speculation fiction genre, reminding of “The Twilight Zone”.
A habitable planet identical to Earth is discovered, and it is approaching. They call it Earth 2, for simplicity. However, its being identical to the Earth doesn’t only apply to its shape. This fact should be already enough to scare all the inhabitants of our planet and make them believe they are victims of a collective hallucination, instead, in a kind of surreal atmosphere, people seem just curious. But what makes this discovery even more incredible is the fact that, after four years, when the two planets are in communication distance, they realise that Earth 2 seems to have the same inhabitants of Earth.

Are they living the same life?

In this context you are shown the story of Rhoda Williams, who on the night of the first sighting of Earth 2, when she is a bit tipsy after a party, is driving a car while trying to see the new blue dot in the night sky and, in so doing, she causes an accident in which two people dies and one ends up in a coma.
I don’t tell you what will happen later, because the beauty of this film is to follow the unpredictable turn of events. Indeed, I have already revealed too much.

Suffice to say that it is a dramatic, redemption story, which uses an imaginative context to address the topic of second chances.

Can there be a second chance for a person who has made such a horrible act that even she cannot forgive herself?

Rhoda tries to discover it as she puts back together the pieces of her life and try to make amends, but things don’t go exactly the way we had expected.
In about 90 minutes we follow her with bated breath, only partly interested in the story of second Earth, but the latter will prove crucial to the conclusion that is consumed in the last 10 minutes of the movie, leaving us dumbfounded as we think about it for a few minutes. Or for some days, as it happened to me.

“Beyond the Limit”, the final book in the Detective Shaw Trilogy

When a week ago I wrote the last sentence in the first draft of “Beyond the Limit”, after an uninterrupted writing session lasted eight hours, I could not believe it. I’d started writing the book on 1 November and 75 days later, approx. 116 thousand words later, it was over. With it I found myself completing my twelfth book and closing a trilogy that had begun as a standalone book, “The Mentor” written almost by chance in November 2012 to try my hand with the NaNoWriMo and then published in 2014 (in Italy), and it ended up becoming one of my longer series, because it has in fact passed the word count of the Red Desert series (which includes four books).

The writing of “Beyond the Limit” was a seesaw of emotions, starting from the anxiety of the first days, in which I was set to follow the pace of NaNoWriMo (an average of 1667 words a day, even on weekends), while having written down only a partial outline. As I faced the challenge I was aware of not being quite ready, because I’d had little time to prepare. Fortunately there is NaNoWriMo (which I also won again this year), that prompted me to start anyway, to push me to create although I didn’t fancy to and then give rise to one of the most intricate stories in which I have ventured so far. Thanks to it, I had already written over 50,000 words by 30 November, even if, for the first time, I felt the need to re-read all the work done so far to realise how good it was and find the necessary motivation to continue. What I did not know was that I was not even half done!

As always, when in the beginning there are only a few ideas, but they require space to develop in a logical fashion, to go hand in hand with the evolution of the characters (in this case dictated by the need to give a conclusion to the trilogy), and to do all this while respecting the rhythm imposed by the competition (I cannot write more than one scene per session, so during the month of November, the scenes were almost all over 1667 words and I ended up keeping this rate even in December and in the first two weeks of January), these ideas have resulted in a text rich in details, introspection, events, many of which came unexpected but incredibly capable of fit perfectly in the plot, which made it very long, although the main story takes place in just three days.
Despite its length, I am convinced that it is a quick read, which I hope will keep you turning the pages and perhaps a bit anxious about the fate of the protagonists.
Although I had control over it, I was!

But, if you’re reading this post, maybe you want to know something about the plot, don’t you?
I’ll please you right away.
As I was saying, “Beyond the Limit” closes the story arc that began with “The Mentor” in 2014 and continued with “Syndrome” in 2015, which ties Detective Eric Shaw and his pupil (I cannot mention her name to avoid spoilers for those who hadn’t read the first book yet).
The novel refers to an old case, which Eric’s team had worked in January 2014 (before the events in “The Mentor”) and had been solved with the arrest of the culprit, Dr. Robert Graham, a post-graduate medicine doctor specialising in plastic-reconstructive surgery: a serial killer called ‘plastic surgeon’, who was later convicted for killing three women and kidnapping another one, Megan Rogers. The rescue of the latter, found in the killer’s house of the horror by Detective Miriam Leroux in January 2014, is the scene which opens “Beyond the Limit”, then the story goes forward in time until Sunday, 21 May 2017 (which is also the release date of the novel in Italy), when a woman is found dead in the famous Madame Tussauds wax museum. This is just one of many popular locations in London where the events of “Beyond the Limit” take place.
Eric, who arrived with his team at the crime scene, will be the first to notice an eerie resemblance to the crimes of the ‘plastic surgeon’, which will arise in him a serious doubt for the first time. What if more than three years ago he’d made a mistake and sent the wrong person to jail?
The story unfolds in just three days, 21 to 23 May (which occupy the first 7 of the 8 chapters of the book), during which, with a succession of twists and murders, the complex plot leading to the resolution of the case will be revealed to the reader.

However, the investigations of this case aren’t the only problem that our Eric has to face. Before him is now the opportunity of a promotion to the role of head of the whole forensic department of the Metropolitan Police Service, London (he is currently only a team chief; unfortunately there’s a translation mistake about this in “The Mentor”, which depended on the US publisher, not on me!), with a concomitant shift from the ranking of chief inspector to that of superintendent.
But he is not the only one to aspire to that role. There is someone else competing for it, Detective Chief Inspector George Jankowski, another forensic team chief the Italian readers have already met in “Syndrome”. We find the latter engaged in trying to cast shadows on the work of Eric to help his own promotion and to do so, he begins to dig into the working past of his colleague, who, as we know, is not without issues.



Beside all this are some personal problems that Eric must face. Those with Adele Pennington, his young partner who has returned to play an important role in his life at the end of “Syndrome”, and those with Miriam Leroux, his god-daughter, with whom he has had a tough argument in the epilogue of the previous book, which was followed by a long period of distance between the two of them. The return of the ‘plastic surgeon’ will be an opportunity that forces Eric and Miriam to work together again and possibly recover their relationship, so that they can close a chapter of their past forever.
While the case of the serial killer will be resolved within the first seven chapters of the novel, the last one will act, instead, as an epilogue of the trilogy, leading to the resolution of Eric’s problems with Miriam, Jankowski, and Adele.

The dramatic ending will be, as always, open (I’ll leave to you the task to imagine what will happen next), but certainly decisive. Despite the drama, it will be a positive ending for Eric, a kind of dark happy ending, where our main character will have to answer the question that serves as a tagline for “Beyond the Limit”: how far are you willing to go, to protect a secret?
You’ll find the final answer of Eric in the last sentence of the novel.


I know that, unless you speak Italian, you could have read only “The Mentor”, but I promise you that “Syndrome” and “Beyond the Limit” will be translated into English at some point.
In order to make that possible soon, please, show your interest in these books by leaving a comment and subscribing to one of my mailing lists (regular mailing list or Thoughts by Anakina).
Thank you so much for your support!

A Stir of Echoes - Richard Matheson

***** Never let yourself be hypnotised!

This short paranormal thriller is another little gem from the extensive literary production of Matheson. Despite being a short enough work, it can be considered a complete book, thanks to the author’s ability to use a fast pace, which does not get lost on too much talking, but can summarise a complex plot in a little space.
As always in his books you have no idea what might happen next, since it is difficult to label them and then understand the type of plot from the genre. His moving easily between science fiction and fantasy makes the reader not know what to expect when they pick up a book of his.
Although the novel is dated, the prose sounds quite contemporary.
The main character, Tom, who after being hypnotised begins to see and hear strange things, is characterised by great irony and a touch of madness, which make him fascinating. Perhaps the protagonists of many of his books tend to look alike, but that does not make them any less interesting.

A Stir of Echoes on Amazon.

When criminologists are wrong

Fingerprints are unique and for this reason are considered the most effective method to establish the identity of a person together with the analysis of DNA, which is much more difficult to find at the crime scene. But, unlike DNA which is compared by means of an instrumental procedure giving a response on which, except in case of manipulations of the sample, there are no doubts (even if it only provides a statistic), the examination of fingerprints is instead performed visually by a person. The computer can select some possible profiles that display similarities with the fingerprint found at the scene, but then the criminologist is the one carrying out a visual comparison and making a decision.

We know that the human factor always has a margin of error, yet we have realised that this can be true even in the context of the comparison of fingerprints only when some sensational cases of miscarriages of justice occurred.

One of the most famous concerns the terrorist attack in Madrid in 2004. A plastic bag containing detonators was found at the scene. A latent fingerprint was detected on it, which was then digitised and transmitted to Interpol. The automated comparison with the database of the latter had provided twenty results. Among them there was one that, according to an FBI fingerprint expert, presented a very high match, so much to bring them to say they had found the owner of the fingerprint detected at the scene. This conclusion was later confirmed by two more experts both from FBI.
The fingerprint was of a Canadian, called Brandon Mayfield, a Muslim lawyer, married with an Egyptian woman. The man denied having anything to do with the attack, but was still arrested according to the discovery of his fingerprint.
Some time later another independent expert confirmed for the fourth time the conclusion of FBI, but shortly after the Spanish police claimed they had found the real culprit, the owner of that fingerprint (an Algerian, who was later incriminated for the bombing). Because of this, Mayfield, who really had nothing to do with the case, was released.

The question that arises is: how is it that four experts were convinced that the fingerprint found at the scene was his? After considering this, how much can you trust the use of fingerprints to establish the guilt of anyone?
And this case is not even the only one, although it is the most impressive.

Another one, for example, occurred in the UK, where a fingerprint was found at the scene of a murder (the victim’s name was Marion Ross) and was then assigned to a detective (Shirley McKie) who actually worked at the case. You might think about a typical example of unintentional contamination of the scene by the police, but the detective had never entered the bathroom where the fingerprint was detected and, since she continued to affirm that, she was accused of perjury and lost her job.
Then they realized that the fingerprint wasn’t hers. There had been, in fact, a human error by the criminologist who had performed the comparison. The detective regained her job, but at the same time as the real culprit of the murder had been found (his name was David Asbury) again thanks to a fingerprint, the court did not accept the latter as evidence and he was released.
Again in this case a mistake was made, with the aggravating circumstance that it’d had a further negative consequence: that of making the real culprit be released.

How many more errors like these are made and never revealed? How many people have been exonerated or, worse, incriminated and maybe imprisoned because of these mistakes?
We don’t know, but certainly all this highlights how the use of fingerprints or other physical evidence, whose identification depends largely or exclusively on a decision taken by a human, might not give certainties at all.

Of course you can reduce the margin of error with appropriate precautions.
In Mayfield’s case the error was probably due to the fact that all experts involved knew that the man was a Muslim (which can cause a prejudice) and with McKie the fact that she worked the case (other prejudice), but also that those repeating the comparison after the first one were aware of the previous conclusion of their colleagues (comparisons should be blind).

All this concerns reality, which once again looks much more grudging of certainty than fiction.
I honestly cannot remember a single film, novel or TV series in which the criminologist on duty made a mistake with the identification of a fingerprint’s owner. In fiction these professionals are shown as infallible, and if there is a mistake, it is due to a manipulation of the scene by the offender or is voluntary.
The latter cases include the story of Dexter Morgan, main character of the TV series titled “Dexter” (and the books by Jeff Lindsay from which the former is developed), the forensic haematologist who often alters his conclusions or manipulates evidence during investigations to cover his own actions as serial killer, or to ensure that a certain person isn’t arrested so that he could kill them.

In short, fiction tends to enhance the cunning of the protagonists, and defects, when they exist, never concern their job. Typically the investigator drinks (or even uses drugs), eats little, sleeps little or nothing, and maybe doesn’t even wash himself, but when it comes to investigate a murder he is always very clear headed!
An example of this cliché is the series of books by Michael Connelly starring Detective Harry Bosch, from which in recent years the TV series “Bosch” has been produced by Amazon Studios.
In the second book, “Black Ice”, there is a mistake in the identification of a fingerprint’s owner, but it is something voluntary and orchestrated to distract the investigations and not a simple mistake made by those who made the comparison.
Human error without an ulterior motive doesn’t work so much in fiction, perhaps because it is too realistic.

I must admit that while writing the Detective Eric Shaw Trilogy I haven’t used and don’t intend to use such errors by the main characters. Sometimes they may miss a detail (because this is useful to the plot), but never fail a comparison of a fingerprint. The errors at best are made by the antagonist.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t exploit the human factor. Detective Shaw, in fact, uses this type of vulnerability in forensic science to domesticate evidence, as it happens in the case of Johnson in “The Mentor”, in which Shaw causes that the man’s fingerprints are detected on the murder weapon to induce him to confess.
But what if following his own instincts he would aim to the wrong person? Let’s consider that he is absolutely sure that he had found the culprit and forces the situation by manipulating evidence so that this person cannot escape justice.
What if, some time later, maybe years later, something would turn up that casts doubt on the validity of that belief?

This is the possible doubt that I will explore in the final book in the series, “Beyond the Limit”.

Bones: skeletons, brains, and irony

All photos are © FOX TV.
In the investigative series scene, “Bones” has the originality to present for the first time on TV a forensic anthropologist, i.e. Dr. Temperance Brennan, played by Emily Deschanel.
Although the series presents a pair of main characters, with FBI Special Agent Seely Booth who would at least be officially in charge of the investigation in each case, the fact is that Brennan, who he calls just Bones and considers his partner (although she doesn’t belong to the bureau), is the one to be personally involved in their resolution.

I discovered this series when it arrived on Sky TV in 2008 (in Italy), out of curiosity, following David Boreanaz from his previous show, “Angel” (the vampire cursed with a soul from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, which I have never watched) and it immediately got me.
I loved the character of Brennan, extremely intelligent, pragmatic, rational, saying what she thought without filters, in practice a former nerd become successful, but without falling into a simplistic cliché. Brennan was brilliant both for her talent and the fact that it had been sharpened by the intense study and almost obsessive passion for the latter. I must say that in my small way, being myself a person tending towards perfectionism, I used to identify in her. These characteristics made her unpredictable - you didn’t know what she would say or do in each episode - and almost magical. In fact, with a simple look at the bones of the victims she could determine gender, race, sometimes age, and even the type of job they used to do.
The one between her and Agent Booth - intuitive, emotional, and a believer - was therefore an increasingly challenging conflict that kept the interest high, regardless of the individual cases.

As the seasons went on, something has necessarily changed. The two characters have come to interact until the obvious romantic outcome and the differences between the two have been blunted. As I said, it was necessary, because in so many seasons you could not expect to keep the same pattern, which would eventually become repetitive and boring, once exhausted the initial surprise, but maybe it’s also one of the reasons why such stories work better in a shorter context, such as movies and miniseries.



Faced with this change, the writers have done their best to increase the interest in the other characters, whose subplots are well-finished, while the various crimes have always been a bit in the background.
Exceptions are some stories that were spread across multiple episodes, such as the cannibal serial killer Gorgomon in the third season or evil hacker Christopher Pelant, who even appears in three of them (the seventh, eighth, and ninth), and of course the fact that each season tends to end with a cliff-hanger, thus ensuring that the story is resumed at the beginning of the next one.
The remaining episodes are stand-alone, and except for small elements of the subplots, missing some of them has almost no effect on the general understanding of the series.

The sum of the merits and defects of “Bones” has caused it to be renewed from year to year and now it has come to a twelfth season, which will also be the final one. No doubt it is therefore considered a successful series that reached its physiological term.

As many know, the character of Temperance Brennan owes its name to the protagonist of the series of novels by Kathy Reichs.
Actually the bond is quite weak, because the two characters have as common element, apart from the name, just the job of forensic anthropologist. None of the episodes comes from a specific novel. Indeed, it seems that the basic idea came from the project of a documentary on Reichs, who is in fact a forensic anthropologist, and then Brennan from “Bones” would be more like a transposition of the author on the small screen. Moreover, at one point in the series, Brennan began writing novels, whose protagonist is named Kathy Reichs, stirring even more reality and fiction. Reichs also says that the series could be seen as a prequel of her novels, since her Brennan is older than the character played by Deschanel.
Anyway you look at it, we are faced with a mixture of fiction, TV, and real life, which makes, if possible, “Bones” even more original.

Forensic science is, however, so quickly shown that, in my opinion, does not offer particularly interesting insights. The presence of physical evidence is functional to the killer’s discovery and the latter is facilitated by alternative technologies, actually science fiction ones, which have the purpose of entertaining, often through the comic element, rather than to let the public learn a particular scientific aspect.

Then there are a few interesting guest stars, like Ryan O’Neal in the role of Brennan’s father with a criminal past or the pop star Cyndi Lauper, who plays a psychic, - both recurring characters - and a good dose of dark humour, that hovers in all seasons, lightening the heavy themes.
In each episode there is, in fact, least one fleshless and/or dismembered corpse, but it is always represented in a not too gruesome manner, avoiding to keep the emphasis on the evident brutality of the crimes, even if the vision to children is far from recommended.
The whole is topped, in my opinion, with an excessive righteousness (typical of mainstream TV) and a clear distinction between what is absolutely right and what is absolutely wrong, leaving no room to the existence of intermediate situations, which are normal in the real world.

It is still a fun series that you watch without force yourself to too many reflections and that, like it or not, brings you to follow it to the end.

New year, new resolutions: 2017

Another year is gone, again! I think that it happens to everyone, and increasingly as you grow older, to have the impression, at the end of a year, that it passed a bit too quickly. We had just used to this 2016 and now we have to reset our minds with a new figure: 2017.

I have to tell the truth: for once, the year now drawing to a close did not seem short to me. When I think of everything I’ve done, how much I’ve been working, these twelve months seemed to never end. Maybe it’s because for once I was waiting for this end, as it corresponds to the almost total completion of all my projects in progress, but also to the end of my first five years as self-publisher.
On 3 January, it will in fact be the fifth anniversary of the day when I started the first draft of “Red Desert - Point of No Return“ (in Italian) with the clear intention to publish it independently.
Actually, this anniversary should be celebrated on 7 June, the official release date of my first non-free book, but for this reason I decided to use the five months between these two dates to do a better analysis of my self-publishing experience and define which way to direct my future efforts. And it was perhaps the impatience to begin this particular period to make me feel like 2016 were a really long year.
Just to confirm my tendency to never be able to stop at all, my wait will still last for another two weeks, which is the time I need to finish the first draft of “Beyond the Limit” (original title: “Oltre il limite”). This time it’s not my fault: the book is coming out a bit longer than I thought (it’s my characters’ fault!), which I do not mind at all.

Anyway, back to 2016, let’s see what I’ve done:
- I completed the revision of the translation for the first part of “Saranythia”, the next novel by Richard J. Galloway;
- I have translated and published “Kindred Intentions;
- It wrote the second and the third part of “Ophir. Living Code” (in Italian; for a total word count of about 90,000, in addition to 45,000 of the first part written in 2015);
- I prepared from scratch a University course, entitled “Self-publishing Laboratory in multimedia systems”, which I then taught on May at the University of Insubria (Varese) within the scope of the degree course in Communication Sciences;
- I edited “Syndrome (in Italian), the second book in the Detective Eric Shaw Trilogy, and I published it in Italian on 21 May;
- I edited “Ophir. Living code”, the third part in the Aurora Saga and the chronological sequel of RedDesert, and I published it in Italian on 30 November;
- I wrote about 90,000 words (of which 50,000 during NaNoWriMo in November, which I won) of “Beyond the limit”, the final book in the Detective Eric Shaw Trilogy, which I will publish in Italian on 21 May 2017;
- I participated as a guest to four more events, beside the course in Varese: a conference on self-publishing and science communication at Journalist Profession Festival on 19 March in Bologna, a conference on the future of publishing on 3 May, again in Varese, a presentation of my books (the Detective Shaw Trilogy and “Ophir. Living Code”) on 2 December in Iglesias and a conference in Rome on self-publishing on 10 December as part of the Italian small and medium publishing fair titled Più Libri Più Liberi. In these situations I had the opportunity to meet again some old friends, colleagues, and readers, but also to make contact with new interesting people;
- I read 52 books.

The above includes nearly all the resolution that I had listed a year ago, plus one of those which did not depend on my will (the course at the University of Insubria) and the offline events, which however I hadn’t expected.

What wasn’t I able to do?
Well, I didn’t finish the first draft of another novel (“Beyond the Limit”), but this is not a failure, because it’s just proving longer than expected (I assumed that it had a length of 80,000 words, but I wrote about 90,000 so far and it is not finished yet). Indeed, in 2016 I wrote more words than in 2015, although not an entire novel in twelve months, because I finished one and started another, both very long.
I managed, as always, to set aside a lot of notes for new future novels, whose list continues to grow, but I have not prepared any specific outline. This is due to the fact that last June, while feeling overworked and stressed, I made the decision to not start any new project, until I finished all those in progress, in order to wait for the first five months of 2017, which among other things will be dedicated to an evaluation of these five years and the identification of new goals. For this reason I don’t consider this a failure either, but rather a reasoned change of my plans.

Finally I really wanted to work hard to keep an upward trend in sales.
Certainly I worked hard, and among other things I’m very glad of the experiments done during past summer with new series of articles on my blog (this is referred to my Italian blog, but I’m now translating the articles here too), which had an interesting return in terms of sales, and various short discounted promotions carried out at the same time on Google Play and Amazon. I also tried a number of paid promotion techniques, which have been less satisfactory as return on investment, but they have allowed me to understand what is worth doing and what is not.
Moreover I committed to optimize the work I do to ensure my presence on the social networks, in order to maintain it constant or even more assiduous, but reducing the time employed in doing so (no, I haven’t succeeded in altering the space-time, or maybe I have?).
Concerning my incomes related to self-publishing, unfortunately they didn’t increase if compared to 2015, but however they are better than in the previous year, so I’m not complaining, also considering that in 2016 I have not been able to take any special advantage from external promotions (even if I had some of them with my non self-published book, “The Mentor”) and also that I have been busy with too many things, which didn’t leave me the time to have any more good ideas and to put them into practice.
In spite of all that, I have always maintained a minimal base of total sales, independently from everything else, also in the periods in which I did just nothing, which still induces me to ponder on finding the best way to manage my efforts.

As I said a year ago, in fact, the most important thing as an author is that creativity stays active and you always manage to write something of which you are proud.
2016 was marked by periods when my desire to write bordered zero, despite I never stopped doing it to keep up with deadlines (a friend I met at the event in Bologna in March called me military, in reference to my iron discipline!). But I’m very pleased with the results, specifically for “Ophir. Living Code“, which has exceeded my wildest expectations (I refer to my personal liking of the finished book). Moreover, the fatigue I suffered showed me that, if I decide to write, I just do it. For a writer, who lives barely keeping afloat in a sea of ​​doubts, having such confidence in their own ability is a great consolation.
In addition, over the past two months, during the writing of “Beyond the Limit”, thanks to NaNoWriMo, which prompted me to write a new book even if I did not think I was ready yet to do so (nor I had any desire), I rediscovered the pleasure of living inside the characters and let them show me the story. I’m still with them right now and I’m a little sorry at the thought of abandoning them forever at the end of this journey, since this is the final book in a series.
So, no doubt, I’m concluding this year with great optimism.

You may wonder: what about the money?
In 2015 my publishing activity had been my main source of income.
In 2016, although for obvious reasons I didn’t gain the same figures as the previous year, when “The Mentor” was on the first positions of the Kindle Store on Amazon.com, the total royalties I received were such as to allow me to say that I’m still making a living from my writing.
The real challenge will be to succeed with it again in 2017.

There are two resolutions that I wasn’t really able to achieve in this year, but they depended on factors and people outside of my control.
The first was to have one of my books published in another language (beside “Kindred Intention”) or to sell the translation rights for a publication in the next year, but I’m still working hard to achieve this result and waiting for some developments that still require a bit of time. It remains one of my long-term goals.
The second concerned being able to exploit “The Mentorto maintain a certain financial security for the foreseeable future. It got it for this year, but not enough for those that will follow, because the previous resolution didn’t become true and the book is now too old to allow me to earn directly from it in the future.

But now let’s see my resolutions for 2017. They are few (so to speak) for the moment.
Here they are:
1) Complete (within the first two weeks of January) the first draft of “Beyond the Limit” (in Italian), edit and publish it on 21 May 2017. I want to give my best for this book and to do so I decided to not write any novel until its publication (save sudden inspirations, the kind that leave no escape, accompanied by free time, which is completely unexpected and therefore equally unlikely);
2) Reserve four weeks of total rest from any publishing activity (starting from mid-January) to recharge my batteries, after years that I do not stop, except for short breaks;
3) Teach again the course of self-publishing, in a version updated to the latest changes in the market, at the University of Insubria (save for bureaucratic problems not depending on my will). I’d like to teach a version of this course in other scopes, to give even more my contribution to raise awareness and grow self-publishing in Italy and educate new self-publishers, and perhaps I could have the opportunity to do so, but for the moment I avoid any anticipation;
4) Commit myself to participate in multiple events to promote the Detective Eric Shaw Trilogy. I love these three books and I want to reach a larger number of readers, but I especially realise that they did not receive from me all the attention they deserved to achieve certain results, even “The Mentor”, which has sold very well. This has to change. So far I have written so much (I’m finishing my twelfth book). Now is the time to give more space to what I have already published. I owe it to my characters. And this is especially true from my non science fiction thrillers, which I tend to overlook if compared to the books on the genre thanks to which I’m popular here in Italy (science fiction);
5) Dedicate more time to FantascientifiCast (it’s the most important Italian podcast about science fiction), to which I owe my popularity in science fiction in Italy and that should be the means to continue to let my voice (literally) be heard in this context and reach new potential readers;
6) Read at least 52 books;
7) Schedule enough posts on my (Italian and English) blog early in the year, so that I don’t have to write them all at the last moment, when I have little time;
8) Arrange my time so I’m more efficient when I work, thanks to the fact that I devote a greater amount of time to rest, physical activity, and leisure (mainly cultural one, in all its forms, including knowledge obtained with travels);
9) Write much, possibly more than I did this year (say, about 200,000 words), but only what I wish to write, like in the last weeks;
10) Analyse the work of these five years and focus on my own unique way to be a self-publisher, not force me in any way to search for and copy alleged winning methods by others (as I always say: there are no magic formulas) since everyone has their own way to get readers and to reach their own definition of success. It’s one thing I know and that I try to teach others, but sometimes I tend to forget it, when it comes to myself.

Well, I think that’s all. What do you think?
I have been deliberately vague on some aspects, because I will have a better idea in the next six weeks, so I’m not able to put any more items in this list.
In general, as I already expected a year ago, it’s time to make an evaluation of my activities as an author and self-publisher, but I’m happy to do it, because I know that they will generate the embryo of new interesting goals and adventures to be lived in order to pursue them.

Again, at the end of this year I want to close this post thanking my family, my friends, my team, and my readers, who continue to stand by me as indispensable companions of my business and personal journey.
Thank you all.

And as always, I ask you all reading this blog to reveal your resolutions for the new year, here in the comments or on social networks.

Has 2016 been as you wanted? What do you wish for 2017?