A Story Behind the Translation of Alexis Hall’s Glitterland
My career as a popular romance translator began with a cat.
I had always wanted to have a cat since I was little. My mom does not like any pet, however. By the end of my junior year in the university, I decided to move out from the dormitory with several friends so finally, I could have my own cat.
Of course, I had to pay my own rents and bills. A part-time job was then necessary. Being a faithful romance reader and an aspiring translator, I heedlessly and thus fearlessly wrote to the publishers and one of them valiantly offered me a contract. This was how I became a popular romance translator and it has been more than twenty years since then.
What’s more important, I had my own incomes and my own cat. My beautiful emerald-eyed blonde was named Karen. She was, and had been my muse for romance.
I graduated from university, got my master degree in English literature, or more precisely in American popular romances, fulfilled the military services, got a job, quit it, got another job, quit it too, started a business with friends and failed it.
All the while, I wrote some romances, translated some, and wrote reviews for some.
I came to know money, to know fame, to know the dazzles of luxury and the sweetness of desires. The bitterness of love. The world was a playground to me and I had a great fun. So much that I was indulged.
Until one day, I walked among the witchery, voodoos, and masks on a street of New Orleans. Suddenly, I was confronted with the menace from the universe. I acknowledged the hypocrisy of myself. I felt unconcerned. About anything.
I felt dirty.
I fell asleep.
My cats kept me company in the dark and waked me in the morning. I struggled to walk my dog every day. I tried to go out of the door to meet my friends who refused to give up on me. Sometimes I made it and sometimes I didn’t. Most of the time, I retreated to my refuge of obliviousness.
On the 3rd of May, the day before Karen’s 18th birthday, she tried to carry out her daily routine, climbing up to my bed and slapping me awake. She failed and I jumped to my feet. I looked into her green eyes and knew she was leaving me this day.
I cuddled her, like the first time in the cattery, till the daylight dimmed into night. Till she fell asleep. I sat in the darkness of my living room, with her sleeping on my laps, conscious of my eighteen years of youth slipping away, ushering in the dawn of another day.
Then I tried to wake myself in the morning and to walk my dog every day. I tried to go out of the door to meet my friend who still refused to give up on me. I tried to write again. I failed every so often but I did not retreat this time.
When I almost came to my normal self, my father fell in a faint. I moved back to my hometown to take care of him. For two years, I went back and forth between the hospital, my parents’ house, my workplace and my apartment.
One day in the late January of 2021, I happened to check my long-deserted gmail and received a somehow familiar inquiry from a publisher. I puzzled over it for a long while and finally vaguely remembered two or three mails from the same editor in the past two years. I would have ignored it in any other time. My father’s promising convalescence and the editor’s heroic insistence, however, evocated the very dead, very scarce conscience of mine. I wrote a reply to her, thoughtfully listing all the reasons of my disqualification as an expensiv… experienced translator and recommended other accomplished translators to her, with clues of their email contacts informed. A subtle but useful declination in my opinion. How very genteel of me. I presumed any sensible editor would make a better judgment. She didn’t. She agreed to all my disagreeable requirements, in a few hours. Well, then, there are always remedies and I was NOT panic. At all. I politely requested the sample books she proposed and insidiously decided to turn down all her proposals with deepest regret the following day.
I began my brilliant plan with Glitterland, since a bipolar story was supposed to be personally offensive to me. So I read it and knew I made a terrible mistake. It’s helpless. I had to do this book. The evil editor won.
When I told my father about the new contracts, I was surprised to see the smile in his eyes. We had not been close for all my life. The only expectation he had had for me was failed when I decided not to apply for a Ph.D. program. This was the second time I knew he had expectations for me. He had been proud of my work in publishing, though he never knew about the details of my work and had never mentioned any of it.
He had been cheerful for several days and I told myself it’s a good thing that someone was happy for the contracts after all.
On the eve of the Chinese New Year, I went to my parents’ house as usual to buy my father his breakfast. He did not wake up.
Everything after that was a blur. CPR, ambulance, more CPR, death certificate, funeral, phone calls and more phone calls, inheritance, government and bank matters, paperwork and even more paperwork. I don’t quite remember them all. What I remember is rain. Endless rain.
When I finally submitted my final draft to the publisher, the end of 2021 is not far away. I look out of the window and see the roses prospering and blooming. I see a shaft of gold penetrating the clouds.
I would like to dedicate this translation to my father and my sweet lady Karen. Thank you for your love and support. I will be fine.
To all my readers who do not give up on me, thank you for the consideration and patience. I will work (not hard, though) to bring you more romance translation if the publishers permit and the cases are suitable.
Nice to see you, again.