East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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One of the good things I managed to do this month has been delivering (finally) the translation of my friend Francesca’s book about witches in Lombardy. Now the translation is in her hands – she’ll have to check I got all the plant names and other technicalities right, and then the book will hit the Amazon shelves.
We hope to have it out by Halloween.

The book is quite interesting, as it is a mix of brief essays and short stories, providing insight on many of the stories and legends – but also historical facts – about witchcraft in Northern Italy and in particular in Lombardy and in the Lake Como area.

When the book becomes available, I’ll make sure to put a shout-out here on my blog – this has been one of the most fun, most pleasant jobs I’ve done in 2020, and helped keep desperation at bay.
It will be good to have the book out for public consumption – Francesca deserves all the success she’ll certainly have.

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I have just started working on a new project, translating a book of essays and stories about witchcraft and witches. I at in the very early stages of the job – as in, copying and pasting the original text in Scrivener and breaking it up into chapters – but the book is quite good, the author is an excellent person, and we are going to have this baby ready for Halloween.

After months of gruelling work for the Client from Hell (R), this is going to be like a vacation. It’s a complicated job – lots of local terms to render in English, a few adjustments to be made after consulting the author – but at the same time it feels like taking a much deserved (and needed) vacation.

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Translating myself

Having closed Guillotine Wind, my latest novella, I am now getting ready to post it to my Patrons – and this means translating it in Italian. Because it is good to be my patrons, and my Italian-speaking supporters get my stories in Italian, just as my English-speaking supporters get them in English.

This means a bit of extra work, and the hard part is not translating the text, but conveying the tone and the rhythms. And that is, after all, the crux of translating.

I am always dissatisfied with my own translations of my own stories – there is always something missing.

Case in point – the title of my latest novella: Guillotine Wind.
It’s good, compact and yet intriguing-.
Sounds fine.
In Italian it sucks, big time.

Fact is, what wind, and what guillotine?
Is it Il Vento Ghigliottina… but then it sounds like the wind is operating the guillotine… or is it La Ghigliottina Vento, that sounds simply stupid?
Maybe La Ghigliottina del Vento is better, but it sounds lame, and it’s four words instead of two, and it has the wrong rhythm.
Going the other way around, Il Vento della Gigliottina, would possibly suit a story set in Paris during the Terror, but not a story set in Siberia in the ’20s.

So in the end I just dropped the lot.
In Italian, the new novella will be called Vento d’Acciaio.
Steel Wind – a title I would not use for a story in English, because it was the name of a rock band.
See what I mean about being dissatisfied with my translations?

But I’m halfway through – the Patrons will get their story for Christmas.

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At work on Central Station

25986774With all the stuff that’s been piling up on my desk recently, I failed to post a note about the fact that I am having a lot of fun and a great time all around translating Lavie Tidhar’s Central Station for Acheron Books.
The novel’s so good and the author’s prose is so fluid that it is very easy to go through pages and pages of it almost without noticing.
Which of course means that I have to do a second pass to check all the small bits-and-pieces of the text.

Let me tell you about it… Continue reading


A little hype: Shanmei’s “The Waiting Game”

I just delivered the translation of my friend Shanmei’s short story The Waiting Game, and I guess the ebook will be available as soon as the cover is ready.

Meanwhile, why not start with a little publicity?
Here is the blurb…

Peking, 1902

In the cosmopolitan China of the early 20th century, following the violence and horror of the Boxer Rebellion, lieutenant Luigi Bianchi, serving in Huang Tsun, is involved in the investigation of the death of a wealthy French merchant, poisoned while dining at the Golden Phoenix restaurant.
A Chinese waiter has been arrested for the murder, but is he really the killer?
And why the Japanese embassy seems to hide some details?

A short colonial mystery, with a dash of spy story, the first in a series set between 1900 and 1905, featuring an Italian soldier with a knack for investigations.

Would you buy it?
(I would, but being the translator, I get my copy for free)


Other People’s Pulps: A… for Assassin

I am proud to announce that my translation of Ernesto Gastaldi‘s award-wining thriller, A… for Assassin, published by Raven’s Head, is available for purchase through Amazon.

a for assassin

Originally an award-winning play, Gastaldi’s story was adapted to the screen in 1966, an original giallo that while forgotten by some, still has its small but faithful cult following.


A COME ASSASSINOI had lots of fun translating this unusual, tongue-in-cheek, cruelly amusing work.
The plot is carried most by the witty, crackling dialogue – and short, vivid descriptions hit the reader almost by surprise.
Part old dark house mystery, part family plot, and set in a 1960s England that is a place of fantasy, A… for Assassin plays like a twisted Elizabethan tragedy in which no one is innocent, and hides a nasty sting in its tail.

I really hope that the readers will have as much fun reading A… for Assassin as I had translating it.
It’s not that they don’t make them like this anymore – actually, they never made them like this.
This is a unique tale from a unique author.


Non-native speaker authors on the English market – a few myths

shutterstock_globalizationA few days ago I took part in a discussion about non-native speakers of English publishing in the English-language market.

Being one myself, the topic was quite interesting to me.
I heard opinions and ideas from a number of colleagues – from authors that are making a living on the English and have been for years (such as my friend Andrea Sfiligoi of Ganesha Games) to Italian-language bestselling author/publishers that have weighed pros and cons and decided to stay clear of the English market (such as my friend Alessandro Girola) to people that are still observing and making plans.

As I was listening, I collected a series of myths that in my opinion are widely circulated and accepted, but deserve some deeper consideration, based on my limited experience.

Here they go… Continue reading