Many times, Gentle Reader, I get asked what I do with my days besides actual writing.
So much. So very much.
In fact more of my fiction writing career is spent not writing fiction these days, then writing fiction. (Non fiction is a different matter, for example I have an article right now in the Huffington Post on 10 Ways to Steampunk-ify Your Halloween.)
One of the many things on the list is responding to occasional questions from my translators. These can be rather fun, so I thought you might enjoy a glimpse. Often they force me to figure out the English language or my own ideas in concrete ways. At other times the remind me how humor is different in different cultures, or so much the same.
To protect the translators, who are generally enthusiastic and awesome and lovely people, I'm not saying anything about which language is asking which questions.
These all pertain to the Finishing School books.
1. "Crikey, don't you two look as fancy as fleas'
eyebrows!" I wonder what this "as fancy as fleas'
eyebrows" expresses. Surprise? Admiration? Disapproval?
Admiration mixed with mild mockery and envy. It's a play on the 1920s phrase "bee's knees" or "cats whiskers." I just invented my own.
2. Could you please be so kind and describe me
in more detail how exactly mechanicals move - are the tracks on the
floor - like the train tracks?
can think of it as a single track with one wheel, like a train track
but less than half, only the track part on one side, no slats. The other
way to think of it is like an upside down cable car with the cable set
into the ground.
|via Wiki Commons|
I describe multiple tracks because each mechanical can run on its own
single track (not because there is a pair for each mechancial) also this way
multiples can run at a time.
grog = suss = grasp mentally, understand
3. "What, even her? You'd think she'd grog to the fact that you'd
been pickled." I'm not familiar with the usage of "grog" here. Could
you paraphrase it?
4. Is there any special reason for the name SQUEAK
deck? I know that it is right under balloons but does it really squeak?
It doesn't squeak, people squeak when they talk when they are standing on it, if
there is a leak. These decks are right under helium filled balloons. If
there is a leak, people talking would have high squeaky
voices, just as if you inhaled the helium from a birthday balloon at a
For now, it's back to the grind, working on the various book launches, contests, interviews, and other stuff. You remember what I said about most of being a fiction writer is now not writing fiction? Well October is one of those months.
5. "Spiffing. I could do with a
vacation." I'm not clear what "do with a vacation"
means. Does this have some idiomatic
"I could use a vacation" or "I need a vacation."
6. Could you please explain the phrase "my eye is pickled and the earthworm
sulks at midnight"? Is this the Professor Braithwope's funny way of saying that the alarm
is terribly noisy?
It's code to turn off the alarm. Like an internet password. It doesn't make sense.
7. "Music teacher, she thought, looking at the full skirts of Lady Linette's
lavender dress. And I'm Queen of the Vampires." I can't really understand the connection between "music teacher and "I'm Queen of the Vampires". I wonder if this capitalization might mean the title
of the song or something?
It means that she is as unlikely to really be a music teacher as
Sophronia is unlikely to be Queen of the Vampires. A way of saying the
equivalent of "fat chance."
Rumor is some authors crowd sources their translations. I don't really have enough questions incoming to make that necessary. Besides I like doing it myself. That said, I do sometimes wonder what others might say of my phrasing, or how others might explain it.
I can't imagine being a translator, it must be such a tough job. Humor must be particularly challenging. I talked with my French interpreter, Helen, while I was there this year. She also translates. She flat out said, very kindly of course, that she wouldn't want to do my books, too challenging. I took this is a backhanded compliment.
I love when I get these questions in my inbox though, it's not often I have to go back and examine what I really meant when I wrote a sentence. Or try to explain it in such a way that it makes sense to someone who doesn't have English as a first language.
I hope you've enjoyed this little glimpse into life behind the scenes
of translating a steampunk novel. You should see some of the ones for
the Parasol Protectorate, they are a hoot and a half. (There, for example, is a phrase that would be hard to translate!) What with
Ivy and her malapropisms, all that overly Victorian phrasing, and me making up
words right and left many a translator was befuddled. Perhaps when I'm working on the Parasol Protectorate Abroad I'll give you a peak into the past, if you're interested.
Don't you worry, I'll get back to it soon. The final Finishing School book is waiting for me, I'll be starting it in December. When that's done it's back to Prudence, at last!
Right now, I could really use a bit of a break, I have that treading water feeling.
And the translators are waiting, like nibbling little silver fishes all about.
GAIL'S DAILY DOSE
Your Moment of Parasol . . .
|1890 Winter Ensembles, Delineator via thedailyvictorian tumblr|
Your Infusion of Cute . . .
|indypendent-thinking- Shopping in the Edwardian Era|
Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Your Writerly Tinctures . . .
The Making of a Cover: Costumes & Props
PROJECT ROUND UP
Waistcoats & Weaponry ~ The Finishing School Book the Third: Almost done!
Curtsies & Conspiracies ~ The Finishing School Book the Second: Release date Nov. 5, 2013.
Etiquette & Espionage ~ trade paperback will be available in the US October 13, 2013.
Manga ~ Soulless Vol. 3: (AKA Blameless) Available serialized through YenPlus. Print edition Nov. 19 2013.
Prudence ~ The Parasol Protectorate Abroad Book the First: Delayed. Why? Begin rewrite in 2014.
BIG FAT SPOILER ALERT on the Parasol Protectorate series!
Please DON'T READ THE BLURB ON AMAZON if you haven't read the other books first!
The Parasol Protectorate
omnibus hardback editions
Parasol Protectorate Series manga graphic novels
The Daily Prophecy says of Changeless, “Alexia belongs to a list of favorite characters... During her flight to Scotland, someone is trying to murder her. She deals with that fact like someone just ate her favorite cookie: a bit disappointed, but nothing she can’t handle.”
Quote of the Day:
"Genius is not a quality, but only a quantitative difference in a combination of attributes contained in all persons."
~ Dr. Ernst Jones
Labels: foreign language editions, shaving the beast