Wednesday, January 09, 2008

My hero!

It's a very strange feeling when you hear one of your books is going to be translated into a language you don't speak.

When I heard Trading Tatiana was going to be published in Spain, I was of course delighted on one level.
On another, I was filled with dread.

Who would do the translation?
How could I expect anyone to agonise for hours over the correct word to use ... the right image ... the most powerful phrase ... in the way that I had?
What if they didn't get the voice and the intentions behind it?
What if they hated the book, as I'm sure must happen sometimes to translators?
Or - perhaps even worse from my point of view - what if they had very different politics and subtly changed the slant in ways undetectable to the editor who presumably had never read the original English version?

Eventually, via Steve Redwood whose wonderful book, Fisher of Devils, has been translated by the same person, I had a name - Frank Schleper - and the reassurance that he was one of the good guys.
And people I know who have seen both versions have told me it's a faithful translation.

Then, in the dying embers of the old year, I received an email from the man himself.
And I knew at last that my baby had been in a safe and caring pair of hands.

With Frank's permission, I'm reproducing part of our conversation that lead me to say the man is a hero of the first order.

Hi Debi,
this is Frank, "your translator" into Spanish (of Trading Tatiana). I meant to write earlier but somehow never got around to it. But now that I finally finished reading"Nirvana Bites" there's no way to put off writing any longer. I very much enjoyed the book, maybe even a bit more than Tatiana because in many ways I "feel" a little closer to Jen than to Jo, but basically I enjoyed the story, the suspense and the wit just the same in both books. One of the things Jen and me have in common is that it is not easy for us to cry, but I finally did last nite when her drugged schizophrenic brother finally recognizes her.

Oh hi, Frank! How wonderful to hear from you. I feel a bit like I’m making contact with someone I donated one of my kidneys to … or maybe a child I gave up for adoption …

Hi Debi, I like your comparisons with kidneys and adopted kids, especially the second one, and your "safe hands" expression. And I am glad to hear (from what you wrote further down) that there's somebody out there who thinks I am a good adoptive parent.
I have been in love with books for most of my life. I would not mind to be able to write (I mean, as good as you or Steve, for example), but since I am not, translating as well as possible is the least I can do to pay you guys back at least a small part of what I have received spiritually, emotionally, humourously and a bunch of other -lys, too. It was a real privilege for me to translate Tatiana, after having read it first and written the reader's report.

Frank - Ah now you see this is the point you got me and I fell hopelessly in love with you. Starting with such a passionate love of books would have had me weak at the knees on its own but then spicing it up with the concept of paying something back – something I believe in passionately in every area of my life …. My heart is yours forever, Frank!


Anonymous said...

hi debi,would appear the fallen tarrot card was a good Omen...
regards, and may your good fortune,tell with time
homelesschicken x

Taffiny said...

how wonderful.

I never thought of that, of the fears one would face with their work being translated.

How great it must have been to hear the person was touched by your work, and by the work of writers in general, and that is why this person is a translator, beautiful.

Congrats, on earning a translation, and having a faithful one.

Anonymous said...

Debi, I tried to give him a kiss on your behalf, but his reaction was strange: I never knew a man could run so fast.... I don't think he realised it was from you. The only way I could get Nirvana back from him was by breaking into his flat.
Terribly busy, more next week.

Debi said...

HC - you're right! Hope you're somewhere warm and safe ...

Taffiny - thanks for the congrats. I'm a very lucky woman.

Steve - your gallant efforts on my behalf have been noted ...

Unknown said...

Sounds great Debi - so Nirvana Bites gets another outing in another country - woohoo!

Unknown said...

Brilliant! What a blessing to get the translator of your dreams! Hope the work goes smoothly for both of you!

Anonymous said...

Hi,debi checkout author the blackshadow,tarrot cards is
regards homelesschicken