Ooh la la. I have some good writing news. Yay for more euros! Do you know I have been an international best-selling author? C’est vrai. At least in France. (I am hearing the Coneheads now. At. Least. In. France.) I’m sorry to say it’s not my 1920s-set mystery series that climbed the Amazon.fr charts, but rather the four Edwardian-era Ladies Unlaced romance books. They feature an unusual employment agency and some rather desperate employers, and the first got a starred review from Library Journal which I’m gonna brag on until I’m dead. They sold really well when they were first translated, and the French language rights have just been renewed.
I had to sign an e-document on my computer to extend them. Well, after rolling the mouse around like I was drunk, I managed to cobble together some of the letters in my name. I would have been better off writing a big X for all that you can read it.
Foreign editions are fascinating. I’ve been translated into nine languages, and depending on the alphabet, can sometimes barely recognize my name. The cover artwork is almost always changed, and often the titles are too. The French editions even changed the name of the series, but kept the first title (In the Arms of the Heiress). The subsequent books are totally different. In the Heart of the Highlander became Give Me One Night, The Reluctant Governess is The Colors of Eliza, and The Unsuitable Secretary morphed into Under the Spell of Harriet. I still can’t read them no matter who casts the spell or what they’re called.
I took two years of French in high school, where my teacher, Madame Rothenberg was young, pretty, and very stylish. She fled from Belgium to Spain to escape the Nazis (if you have time, her oral history is fascinating: The Digital Collections of the National WWII Museum : Oral Histories | Oral History (ww2online.org), and I often wonder how she wound up in a suburban New York classroom.
Alas, as great as a teacher she was, I was absolutely stymied in conversation. I aced memorizing vocabulary lists, but when it was time to talk, nada. I can pick out a few words when I read now, but not enough to make much sense out of them. I was, however, pretty good with menus and street signs when we were in Paris. Le hamburger avec fromage remains a classique.
The first two books in this series were also translated into German, and something amazing happened. Years ago, we hosted an exchange student, multi-lingual Ursula from Kulmbach, Germany, who grew up to own a translation company. Guess who was hired to do the books? Small world indeed! Here In the Heart of the Highlander has turned into A Scandal in Scotland. Gotta love those scandals, LOL.
I am reminded of George Clooney, who recently said, “I’m from Kentucky. English is my second language.” Americans are very fortunate that most of the world teaches English in their schools. We seem to be very resistant to learning another language, and so often have trouble with our own. Bless those souls who can move from one culture to another and make themselves understood!
Do you have a passing acquaintance with a foreign language? I need subtitles, even for English programs, LOL.
“Do you know what a foreign accent is? It’s a sign of bravery.” ― Amy Chua
For more info on Maggie and her books, please visit www.maggierobinson.net