Adventures with Google Translate

I was most excited this week to hear that all my books have sold to a Turkish publisher and that my French language publisher has bought my books through To Desire a Devil! For those counting, this makes ten languages that my books are translated into.

For some reason I find foreign sales especially exciting. First, I usually receive copies of the foreign editions and I get to marvel at the artwork on the cover and thumb through it looking for words (if any) that I can recognize. Secondly–and perhaps more importantly–I receive foreign reader mail! Here I must confess that I was one of those nerdy school children who loved writing to pen pals–especially pen pals who lived in exotic (to me) locals. I can’t tell you how excited I get to open an email and find out it came from…Trinidad! Or Thailand! Or Switzerland!

Most foreign readers have an astonishing command of the English language and will write me in English. Some write me in their own language. This is where the internet is truly wonderful. Where fifteen years ago I might have had to hunt down a person who knew, for instance, Italian, now I can simply copy and paste an email into one of the free online translators and voila! all is made clear.

And then I began getting emails in Turkish. 2009 ARRA Finalist

I think some cultures are more interested in writing to authors than others. I’ve received email from most European countries, only a few from South America and none–none!–from Japan, despite having two books published there. (Why, Japan, why?) But the Turkish have surpassed all previous countries in writing reader mail to me, personally. And I love it! Except…there are these little squiggles (not a technical term) on many of the Turkish letters, and the squiggled letters are entirely replaced by boxes or question marks in my email. Which means that quite a lot of the reader’s letter is lost when I plug it into an online translator.

Still, an author must persevere. I reply to all my reader mail, no matter how unintelligible it might be to me. The only problem? I’m writing back in English and I have a sneaking suspicion that the translation errors work both ways. ;-)

And finally in other news, To Desire a Devil has finaled in the 2nd annual Australian Romance Readers Awards in the Favourite Historical Romance category. Woot!