Saturday, 2 October 2010
The Germans are coming!
They are flocking, in fact, to mark the launch of the German edition of Tim Stretton's fantasy novel Serendip (published in English as Dragonchaser). Len Tyler interviewed Tim about his first foreign edition.
Len: For those of us who have not been involved in galley racing lately, could you tell us a bit about the sport?
Tim: Regrettably my first-hand research was rather limited, the sport these days being somewhat in abeyance. In Dragonchaser--or Serendip as I must now call it--we are taken to Paladria, a corrupt oligarchy where galley-racing is the people's obsession. Ambitious politicans finance their own galleys in the hope of swinging the mob to their own side. (We can think of Silvio Berlusconi's patronage of AC Milan, or the games sponsored by Roman emperors).
Our hero, Mirko, is a galley-captain from a neighbouring city. When he agrees to skipper Serendipity, the galley of the unscrupulous Bartazan, he doesn't realise quite what he is letting himself in for. This being a Tim Stretton novel, matters are complicated when Mirko finds himself attracted to Bartazan's mercurial niece Larien.
Len: The English version is Dragonchaser - the German book is entitled Serendip. You seem to be switching your allegiance from one galley to another. Why is this?
Tim: Dragonchaser is the hitherto unbeatable galley of Mirko's rival Drallenkoop, and I used it for the English title because the name is so dramatic (and also from the outset the reader knows as soon as the galley comes on the page, it means business). My German translator Andreas Irle felt that Serendip was a title which worked better in German, and not speaking the language myself I was not qualified to suggest otherwise. The title is in any event more logical, relating as it does to the hero's galley.
Len: How did you find being translated? I know Andreas is a friend of yours in addition to being your translator and publisher.
Tim: Andreas and I met when we were working together on the Vance Integral Edition a decade ago. I first knew him as a respected publisher and translator of Jack Vance's work, and I figured that if he could handle Vance, my stuff would be easy. When Andreas asked my permission to translate the book I was delighted.
Len: Did you hit any problems with the translation? - you are after all writing about places and things that don't actually exist and for which there may occasionally be no English word, let alone a German one ...
Tim: Our contact was fairly light-touch. Occasionally Andreas would email me a list of questions relating to expressions he was not clear about (maybe a couple of dozen over the course of the translation). These were either obscure or obsolete English idiom, or words (and particularly titles) of my own. I'd send Andreas a couple of sentences for each explaining what I was trying to achieve and he would then render the best German equivalent. My own German was wholly inadequate to assess his success so I was always happy to trust his judgement.
Len: Are there plans for any of your other books to be translated into German?
Tim: Andreas has a day job, so this translation took a couple of years. We will see how this one goes, but we don't own the translation rights to The Dog of the North, so there are no immediate plans.
Len: After the first book in my Elsie and Ethelred series was sold to a German publisher I made some hasty changes to the second one, turning a rather obnoxious German character into a Russian. When you are writing now, are you thinking at all about how The Fall of the Fireduke (the current work in progress) might translate at some future date?
Tim: I'd be delighted to see an English-language version of The Fall of the Fireduke, which is currently 20,000 words into a first draft. It's another fantasy novel which I think would appeal to fans of my other work, so perhaps there's a German audience for it. I am never inundated with fan emails, but a disproportionate number of them come from Germany, so it would be nice to think that I am building a German audience. The plan is to make the English text the best I possibly can, and then hope good things flow from there!
Len: For those who don't read German, can we still pick up the English-language edition of Dragonchaser?
Tim: Yes indeed--you can still grab it on Amazon.