Thursday, November 6, 2008

My French Translator

You may recall, back in April, I got word that the first two Elizabeth books were going to be translated into French. So I was delighted, a few days ago, to receive the following email:

Hello, I recently translated " Signs in the Blood" and am currently finishing your Elizabeth Goodweather mystery "Art's Blood" for Editions J'ai Lu in Paris. I just wanted to tell you that I enjoyed both of them tremendously... Sincerely Sophie Dalle

What joy! I immediately emailed back, asking all sorts of questions, including the one that has been on my mind since I first heard about the translation -- how will Miss Birdie say 'Come on in and git you a chair' in French?

Sophie very kindly replied:

I have been a translator for over thirty years and one of the things I find most frustrating is that I never have any contact with my authors. Which is why, after discovering you through your website, I decided to "tenter ma chance"...

(Please excuse my written English - I rarely have the opportunity to write in your language).

As I explained, I took great pleasure in translating both books. Naturally, I encountered a few problems because some of the expressions have no true equivalent in French.
My Miss Birdie speaks in a rural fashion, inspired by people I have met in the country where my mother lives. "Come on in and git you a chair" becomes "Entrez donc et prenez-vous un siège" instead of "Entrez, asseyez-vous". She also uses old-fashioned expressions such as "Ma foi" or "à ce qu'il paraît"...

I lived in Canada (Hamilton, Ontario and Montreal, Quebec) when I was a child but have been in France now for... well, many years. I have visited various areas in the United States (New York, the east coast down to Boston, Michigan, Southern California and Arizona but have never traveled in the Appalachian mountains. Another dream to make true very soon I hope.
I have translated over 200 novels and in the last ten years, mostly thrillers. I have also translated many books for children.
However, my greatest passion is dancing (I was a professional and started translating Harlequin novels to pay for my classes). After a 20-year "break", I have gone back to tap-dancing and perform with a New Orleans Jazz Band as a dancer and playing the washboard !

I sincerely hope my publisher will buy the rights for "Old Wounds" and give me the translation.

Is that a great story or what? Translating Harlequin romances to pay for dancing classes! And, after twenty years, resuming that career. In a later email, Sophie mentioned the apartment in Paris that she shares with Patrick, a jazz trumpeter, and Mozart the cat. There's a view of the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Sacre Coeur . . . Sounds like a Harlequin Romance come true, non?

Naturally, I have asked Sophie to come for a visit if she gets into my neck of the woods. What fun it would be to get to know her and to show her a bit of Appalachia. And I'd love to find out just what it is about Elizabeth that resonates with a woman living in Paris.

Of course I Googled Sophie. Among those over 200 novels she's translated are Paddington Bear, Nora Roberts, and Ngaio Marsh. Elizabeth's in good company.

As I'm always saying, isn't the Internet amazing? You never know who'll show up in the In box! And suddenly, the world is right next door.

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Carol Murdock said...

WOW ! You have had a great week huh?

Vicki Lane said...

Absolutely! Are you safely back home?

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

Vicki, as always the photos are breathtaking and your commentary down home and welcoming. As for "Yes, we can," what a week it's been. I remember what it was like to grow up in deep SW Ga., all the talk, so much of it lasting right on into my adulthood, things I heard at family gatherings, for example. I had begun to lose faith that this country would be able to do what it did on Nov. 4. I didn't cheer while I was driving along I-40 Tues. night, and NPR announced the results. I just felt quietly happy, with not a worry in the world. The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there--never has this quote from The Go-between seemed more resonant.

Vicki Lane said...

President Obama is going to have a hard row to hoe with the state the nation is in. May the YES, WE CAN take hold in everyones' hearts because it's going to take everyone, working together, to pull us out of this ditch.

Susan M. Bell said...

The internet continues to amaze me. I have "met" people from India, Iran, the Philippines, many countries, as well as people from many states in the US. As much as I really hate the song, well, it is a small world after all.