Interview with Ginn Hale & Arrate Hidalgo on translations

Entrevista en español aquí.

Hello again from Mady, here with a Blind Eye Books exclusive! I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Ginn Hale (author of such titles as Lord of the White Hell, Champion of the Scarlet Wolf, and part of new anthology Irregulars) and Arrate Hidalgo, English-to-Spanish translator and sci-fi editor. These lovely ladies have collaborated on an exciting new release of an old favorite, bringing the steamy world of Wicked Gentlemen to Spanish-speaking readers.

Ginn Hale had this to say:

Intern Mady: When you were growing up, did you aspire to be an author?

GH: I do recall that the first time I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said, “taller”.

I didn’t really get the whole idea of picking a career. Probably, because creating worlds and sharing stories never felt like a choice, so much as an extension of what I was. Ducks quacked, cats meowed and Ginns wrote down stories. I would have done those things even if there hadn’t been any money in it for me. I’m not sure I could choose not to—even now.

I didn’t begin to think about being a professional author until, really, it was too late and I was already publishing books and paying bills with my royalties. Then of course I suddenly realized how truly lucky I’ve been to have found so many supportive readers.

M: How would your teenage self react to being told your novel was so successful that it was being translated into Spanish?

GH: Her little punk heart would have exploded from the shock and joy, particularly since teen-Ginn spent a large portion of her years in Mexico. Though I think she would’ve wanted more skulls and blood on the cover; she didn’t have the best taste back then. J

M: Previously, you’ve had the Lord of the White Hell books translated into Japanese. What is it like to work with translators?

GH: It’s both flattering and humbling.  Arrate Hidalgo and Fumiyo Harashima are profoundly astute translators. Their poetic and technical senses of language proved fascinating and brought up all kinds of details and ideas that I hadn’t pondered, when first writing the books.

For example, seashells can have a sexual connotation in Spanish—one that I certainly didn’t intend to apply to Harper’s fingernail.  Names in Japanese can convey a character’s foreign or native Japanese origin depending upon the alphabet used. Those are just two tiny considerations among hundreds and hundreds that the translators worked out.

They did so much more than just replace an English word with a Spanish or Japanese one. They dealt with puns, word-play and the difficulty of teasing out levels of intimacy from a language devoid of formal tenses.

To have two such talented people working so intently on my manuscripts made me feel really honored and fortunate.

M: If you could pick one other novels to be translated which one would it be? And into what language?

GH: Hmmm…I’m going to cheat and say The Rifter (which has been printed in three books but was originally written as a single, very long novel.)

And I think it would be really beautiful to see any LGBT fantasy book translated into Sudanese Arabic, (or better yet written in Sudanese Arabic originally). Not just because Arabic is a gorgeous language—and it is.

But right now homosexuality is a capital crime in Sudan, (to name just one country) but imagine what it would say about the world-wide acceptance of LGBT communities, if some day a Sudanese publisher could think nothing of translating and printing a LGBT fantasy novel.

I wouldn’t care if it was my book or if I would ever be able to even read it, I’d buy it just because it would represent so much for so many people.


Arrate Hidalgo, the translator of novel, responded to a few questions as well—even hinting at more translation projects in the works:

Intern Mady: When did you begin translating fiction? How did you come to this decision?

Arrate Hidalgo: Translating fiction wasn’t so much a decision as something that I fell into more or less naturally. As a Spanish kid, I grew up reading translated books, which is something that native English speakers aren’t usually so accustomed to. This afforded me an awareness of the central role of translation in shaping the way I learned about the world, as well as in filtering the sort of fictional worlds I fell in love with. As I completed my English degree, it became clearer to me that I was happiest when I could combine my love of language, its building blocks and idiosyncrasies, with my passion for fantasy and sci-fi. That’s when I began translating stories I loved.

M: What was the most challenging thing about translating a novel like Wicked Gentlemen?

AH: Something that I always kept in mind was the fact that Belimai and Harper are both very charismatic characters, which is transmitted in the language chosen by Ginn, and I wanted to make sure this transpired in my stylistic choices, without it being too much. The thing about Spanish is that it tends to be longer and more extravagant than English, and when you have a story set in such a luscious pseudo-Victorian world, it’s easy to get carried away with the lace.

M: Were there any particularly difficult passages or concepts to translate into Spanish?

AH: The sex scenes! They are hard to write in style, and the same goes for translating them. When is it too much, or too little? I suppose the readers will have the last word about that. Aside from that, there were concepts, due to the story’s Victorian-inspired setting, that kept coming up and have no exact counterparts in Spanish. “Tenements”, for instance. Or “estate”, which doesn’t look like it should be that difficult, but even when it could be considered synonymous of mansion or country house, the estate is a very specific British concept with its own particular history. The UK and Spain went through very different processes of colonial expansion and industrialization, which occurred in different time periods and left different sociological fingerprints on each of the languages. This is reflected in the terms I have available to work with, which in a novel like this need to convey a sense of antiquity without being alienating or incongruous. The map was also challenging in its own way, but lots of fun, too.

M: How long was the process?

AH: It took me nine months to translate the book, which I combined with other translation work and with my job as a science fiction editor.

M: Do you have any other translation projects in the works right now?

AH: I do, and I can’t talk about them just now, but I’m excited to reveal them soon. In the meantime, I’m giving Wicked Gentlemen a last revision and preparing its promotion among Spanish-speaking audiences. I’m really looking forward to it seeing the light.

You heard it here first, folks! And, a little birdie has told me that we may be seeing a few more translations of Wicked Gentlemen in the near future (French? Cantonese? Klingon? You’ll just have to wait and see!)

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