Thursday, August 27, 2015

Trans-Lating: How to step into foreign waters without falling flat on your face

(This is a cross-post of my recent Sunday Spotlight at Here's the link.)

As many of you know, I translate the occasional book from English to my native German.
Which means I change the author’s English words into German words. Right?
Ummm, actually…
No. Not at all. As a matter of fact, for translators, there’s no surer way to make a complete fool out of themselves than doing exactly that. (I’ve harvested (and lovingly collected) enough blunders during my proofreader days to know.) Because, honestly, who’d enjoy a romance novel that reads like, let’s say, your new “Made in Taka-Tuka-Land”-vacuum cleaner’s user manual?


Let’s take a look at what Merriam-Webster says to that.

(to) translate
verb trans·late \tran(t)s-ˈlāt, tranz-; ˈtran(t)s-ˌlāt, ˈtranz-\
1. : to change words from one language into another language
2. : to explain (something) in a way that is easier to understand
3. : to have the same meaning

Okay, we’ve taken care of point 1.
The second might or might not matter that much for the subject matter at hand.
It’s the third point that makes translating tricky.
It’s not only a different vocabulary that sets one language apart from another, not only a different set of grammar rules. Different languages use different syntax. You’d think I’m pointing out the obvious here, but unfortunately I’m not; I’ve read enough evidence to the contrary. Furthermore, each language has some distinctive idioms, sayings, mannerisms and particularities which just don’t make sense in another language.

And on top of all that, when it comes to translating literary works of any kind, there’s also the author’s voice to consider. In fact, when it comes to fiction, author voice is a very, very important point as far as I’m concerned, because it’s so subjective – a distinctive pattern of phrasing, use of idioms and linguistic mannerisms which one reader may totally go for while the next finds it disgusting.

Someone recently called translators “the most underappreciated people in the industry”. A sentiment that is, in several ways, truer than most authors might like. Because we’re supposed to be invisible. If we’re not, things can get ugly.

Because I, the reader, just can’t enjoy a book if I keep stumbling over awkward phrasings or English-sounding idioms, terms and speech patterns in a German text. I don’t want to read a translation, I want to read a story. I don’t want to hear a translator’s stammering, I want to listen to the character’s voices. However, since it’s the author’s name on the book cover, guess who I’ll blame if I think the translation a botch-up job?

There, again.

A good translation doesn’t make a book better. It doesn’t make it worse either. It just doesn’t get between the reader and the story.

A poorly done translation can turn readers off a particular author’s work.

Interestingly enough, what makes a translation “good” or “bad” seems to be almost as subjective as what makes a book “good” or “bad”. Let’s take “Zero at the Bone” by Jane Seville for example which I had the honor to translate into German. One of the main characters, D, has a very particular speech pattern, some kind of clipped, terse vernacular. It was up to me to choose a German voice for him, and I did.
My choice has been praised to high heavens, sneered at and ripped to pieces in reviews.
But you know what? The same happened to the actual author’s choice to give D such a unique voice.
My point, and the advice I give authors who ask me about finding a translator for their work, is this:

Make sure you get the best, most technically perfect translation you can possibly afford. Have it proofread by native speaker(s) for workmanlike quality, including phrasing and syntax. Find a title that both matches your story and doesn’t sound tacky in the foreign language. Choose a cover that should appeal to your foreign audience’s tastes (ask a native speaker’s advice if necessary). Put all that together, stir well and unleash.

And then lean back and enjoy your baby speaking German, French, Italian, Japanese, Korean or whatever. Trust me, it’s a rather heady experience.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

It's all French to me!

Ladies and gentlemen, for the first time in this theater *drumroll*

I've been translated !!!!

I was delighted like Puck when I first heard that Dreamspinner Press is going to have my second novel, Thorns, translated into French. The best thing about that news: Thorns is set in France, so I'm really eager to learn what French readers think of it. 

And now it's happening - L' Épine is now on Dreamspinner Press's Coming Soon page, set release date Sept. 8, 2015.

See, it's really a strange kind of wonderful AND a wonderful kind of strange to see my words in another language. I'm quite excited... my baby's entering new territory!

Good luck, little one.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Push Back! LGBTQ Charity Giveaway

Two hundred authors. Two weeks. One massive fundraiser. Join us at to push back against anti-LGBT laws by saying no to hate and raising money for charity
Starts April 18th. Ends May 1st

Saturday, November 1, 2014

And the madness begins....

"Becoming a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life."

I don't remember who said this, but it's oh so true. Especially in November.

It's an anual ritual: Every year on the stroke of midnight of November 1, I sit down in front of a white sheet, cursor blinking, crack my knuckles and take a deep breath. Put my fingers to the computer keys. Exhale. And... here we go.

Fifty-thousand words. One thousand, five hundred and ninety-three words per day. Can't be that hard, can it?

And at first it isn't. The words flow, my fingers flying over the keys (well, and hammering on the backspace/ delete key more often than not, but you get my drift.) It's sheer pleasure and joy.

Until it isn't, usually by the end of the first week. There's that annoying thing called real life getting into the way of the writing - work, bills, chores, dogs, stuffed nose (November has notorious flu-weather over here), choir concerts and birthday celebrations. There's sitting up at the PC until the wee hours, tap-tapping away until the letters blur on the screen. There's trying to focus on my work with my characters screaming in my head, but once I FINALLY get to sit down at the computer, the buggers give me the silent treatment.

And then there's watching that little progress bar crawl along a fraction of a milimeter every day despite everything. There's getting lost in my character's troubles to a point where I turn around, convinced I just felt them tapping my shoulder, only to find myself - surprisingly - alone. There's too much coffee and too little sunlight (Well, assuming the sun shines which sadly, seems to be the prospect for this year's November)

And then there's the point where I'm ready to chuck the whole business into the bin, add some Nitroglycerine and give the entire mess a good kick. To the moon and back.
I've done that, too.

But I've also ground my teeth and carried on stubbornly past that point.

I don't know which way my this year's NaNo-Project will go. To the scrap heap or to the beta?

Because kicking it feels SO damn good - like f*ck the whole cr*p, sweet freedom, here I come!

But finishing NaNo - it's writegasm. Really. With flowers and chocolates.

So either way, cross your fingers for me.

Let the madness begin!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Review: Double Up

Double Up
Double Up by Vanessa North

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Gawd, the FEEELZ...

This book is set in the world of wake-boarding, an extreme sport I'd never heard about before. (apparently, it's kind of like water ski, only on a board instead of skis and with a lot of tricky jumps over the pulling boat's wake, hence the name)

Ben is a veteran of the sport who gave up pro-wakeboarding after he hurt his back in a fall years ago. Now he's working at his friend Eddie's wakeboarding supplies shop and coaching other riders. Davis--Dave--is a complete newbie who wants to learn the sport so he can reconnect with his younger half-brother, Ridley, whom Dave's homophobic mother and stepfather have kept away from him.

There's instant attraction between Ben and Dave, and things get pretty intense pretty fast for them. But Ben has issues with his self esteem; he doesn't trust easily, not himself nor others and he also doesn't expect to be trusted. And now there's Dave who gives and demands openness, trust and honesty, and Ben doesn't know how to deal with that. He wants to, but he doesn't know if what he can give will be enough for Dave.

This book had some of the best-written, most emotional sex scenes I've ever read. Also, I fell head over heels for side-character Eddie, who was deliciously flamboyant and the best friend in the world for Ben; his dry wit more than once kept things from getting saccharine.

For a big portion of the book, I had some issues with Dave, even though generally I found him a good guy; after all, he was kind of like the prince who woke Sleeping Beauty Ben with a kiss, quite literall. But Ben tried so hard, rose over himself to make Dave happy, and all Dave did was berate Ben for not being trusting enough, for not being good enough. However, Dave redeemed himself in the end, and if nothing else, his drama queen-ish tantrums made for some deep emotional angsty shakes on Ben's part, so it was all good.

Really, a very enjoyable, engrossing read, one of my close-with-a-happy-sigh-books. Highly recommended.

A "warning", though, it's written in first person POV present tense.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Schaurig - schönes Geschenk zu Halloween - PsyCops von Jordan Castillo Price auf Deutsch!

Erscheint am 18. November 2014:

Für ihre deutschen Fans hat die Autorin Jordan Castillo Price ein ganz besonderes Angebot:

Für 15 interessierte Leser gibt es im Austausch gegen ein faires Review (auf Amazon und/oder Goodreads) ein GRATIS - Vorabexemplar!

Anzufordern bei Jordan Castillo Price (Autorin) unter jcp (dot) heat at gmail (dot) com
oder bei mir, Feliz Faber (Übersetzerin) unter felfaber at googlemail (dot) com

Wer's lieber vorbestellen möchte, hier sind die Amazon-Links:*Version*=1&*entries*=0