Friday, June 12, 2009

Annie West: Foreign Delights

I adore getting mail. Always have. It's an incentive to write letters, and even in these days with almost instant access to friends and acquaintances via email there's nothing I love more than getting mail. Well, not the dreaded 'window' envelopes that inevitably contain bills. My favourite of all is the parcel.

Today I received two. Fantastic. First was a special delivery: a largish box with American editions of my June Harlequin Presents release, THE GREEK'S CONVENIENT MISTRESS. Then later, with the rest of the mail, came a small padded envelope containing two copies of my latest title in Spanish: Noche de pasion con el jeque, Not speaking Spanish, I'm guessing it means something like Night of Passion with a Sheikh. I know that story as THE DESERT KING'S PREGNANT BRIDE but I think the Spanish edition has a wonderful ring to it.

One of the absolute joys of writing for Harlequin is seeing my work translated into other languages. Most of the time my linguistic skills are such that I can't read the translations but knowing that people in Brazil or Korea, Greece or Germany are reading about my characters in their own language is a thrill.

I've included here a Japanese cover and a Spanish cover for the same story. Isn't it fascinating the way each country has set its own stamp on FOR THE SHEIKH'S PLEASURE? What made this particular Japanese edition particularly interesting was that it's actually for a manga book - a cartoon book. Like other Japanese editions you read it from right to left. But unlike other editions I've received, this one has a minimum of text and most of the drama is represented in clever pictures. Once I got used to the rather interesting fashions that the heroine prefered it was rather fun to 'read'. I'm told I've suddenly become 'cool' with various teenagers of our acquaintance - no one else they know has made it into manga.

It would be lovely to think that one day I might read my books in translation but I received my first Polish edition last week and I'm afraid I'm not up to that challenge. And as for Korean...much as I love the look and feel of the book, I think I'll stick to something in an alphabet I can understand.

In the meantime I give away most of my foreign editions to libraries in areas that cater for people who's first language isn't English. It's great to think of them going to a good home.

We love foreign languages in this house. Though I'm not a good linguist I have a tiny smattering of other languages and am married to a man who's passion is languages (and me, of course!).

What languages do you know? Which appeal? If you could learn any language what would it be and why? To read a terrific book in the original text? To go travelling somewhere special? To understand every syllable when a sexy foreign lover whispers sweet nothings in your ear?

I'm currently celebrating the release of THE GREEK'S CONVENIENT MISTRESS in North America. You can visit my website to read an excerpt or enter my latest contest. Or click here to buy a copy.

I'll give away a copy of this new release today to one person who comments on this post. And, if you read Spanish, or know someone who'd appreciate it, I'll also include Noche de pasion con el jeque.


daisy said...

Annie great post! I love your Japanese translation. I haven't had one of those yet so I'm really looking forward to hopefully seeing one one day. I'm fairly confident with french, although reading it would be a challenge. And whenever I go traveling I love to pick up a few of the local phrases, people really appreciate when you make a bit of an effort...
x Abby Green

Helen said...

What a great post Annie it must be really exciting getting those parcels in the mail I too love getting real mail and parcels.

I can't speak any other language although I grew up next door to Greek people and I know a couple of words that I still remember and that is a language I would love to learn.

Have Fun

Annie West said...

Hi Abby,

You lucky thing. You'll be able to read your books in French. Have you tried yet? I think you'll love getting a Japanese manga edition. I'd already had a couple of translations into Japanese and (strangely) could read a word! With this one, though, I could see the various scenes I remembered, even if they sometimes did look a tad different to the way I'd imagined them.


Annie West said...

Helen, lovely to see you here. Yes, it is exciting - almost like a birthday. I recently had a couple of weeks where it seemed I was getting translations every couple of days - great fun.

How terrific that you still remember a little Greek. It's a lovely language. I've learned a bit of it but am so rusty from lack of use that I wouldn't claim to speak it. When I was little one of our neighbours was Dutch and I can still remember singing songs in Dutch with her but I've forgotten it all now.

Laurie said...

I took French in HS. My children all took Spanish which I think is more practical today! They all can talk and read it fluently. Growing up in Florida definitely impacted their decision to take Spanish. My daughter is 26 and an English teacher, but, I'd love for her to read your book.

Lois said...

I wouldn't have any use for foreign versions of a book if I were an author, but taking a few minutes to look inside to me would be very interesting. Just for the fact that it's so different, and strange to know these words were mine, but just couldn't read them for anything. LOL I had three years of German in high school/first year of college, two years of Latin. . . but really don't remember anything useful no how. Don't know much Klingon either. ;)

And just looking at the other comments, the reason why I took German was because it wasn't Spanish -- same idea as what Laurie said, only me in NJ. LOL Also didn't take French because it just seemed too normal, so I went with German. Wish I went with French, might have learned something. :)


Alison said...

It must be such fun to see the various takes on your books, and it's lovely that you can give them to places where people will be able to enjoy them. I speak a little French and Spanish, that's all, but I think Italian is such a 'language of love' I'd love to be able to speak it.

CrystalGB said...

HI Annie. I bet it is exciting to get copies of your books in the mail and to see the different covers and translations of the titles. I only speak English. I took French in college and can count and say a few phrases in French. I think it would be great to be fluent in a language.

penney said...

Hi Annie
Great blog today I like the covers in Japanese and the Spanish cover I can't read them but the covers are great, your new book sounds great.

Maureen said...

I think it's wonderful that you're stories have been translated for people all over the world. I haven't studied any languages since high school but I think I would pick Spanish if I had the time and the ability to learn a new language.

Pat Cochran said...

I took four years of Spanish in high school. Though I read and write in Spanish, I am not fully conversant in the language. I have picked up a few words of Japanese, which my granddaughter, Ashley, took for all of her high school years. In fact, she will major in Japanese Studies when she begins college in the fall. I plan to spend more time in my own "Japanese studies!" Will be on the "lookout" for one of the Manga copies of your book for Ashley.

Pat Cochran

Anna Campbell said...

Annie, what a great post. You're so right about the thrill of getting those books in the mail. I'm currently waiting to see my new cover in the flesh in the form of a pack of coverflats. Can't wait! I've seen the picture but actually holding it in my hands is going to be so exciting.

Congratulations on all your wonderful foreign translations. I love seeing the different covers - that manga one is so cool!

Anna Campbell said...

Oh, and to answer your question, and you already know this, I'm a bit of a language geek. I did French and German at school and some French at uni and I've done short courses in conversational Spanish and Italian, although I don't remember much of either. Would love to learn Russian and Latin one day although I've been told Russian is a bit of a nightmare to get your head around. Latin I suspect I'd probably enjoy because of the French/Italian/Spanish connection. I've never reached fluency in a foreign language but just a bit of training opens up a whole new world, literally. People who have a different language have a slightly different take on the world to English speakers and I love thinking about that.

Mari said...

I would love to learn Chinese. I have a friend who can speak english, french, spanish, italian and portuguese! However she is now trying Chinese and says it is much harder than any of the others she has tried to master. I I could wave my wand I would love to be able to speak it.

Annie West said...

What a lovely day to start the day. I've just turned on the computer and found a whole slew of comments I'm looking forward to reading.

Hi Laurie. Do you ever use your French? Good on your family for learning Spanish. That's one on our list, though living in Australia it's very much a 'foreign' language, for use if we ever make it on that planned trip to Spain, or maybe when I finally visit Mexico with my son (which we've been talking about since he was tiny).


Estella said...

The foreign covers are certainly interesting.
I know a few words of German, so would like to learn to speak it.

Annie West said...

Lois, no Klingon? It's not too late to brush up.

Actually, we've found German very handy (my dh is fluent in it, my daughter pretty good at straightforward German and I speak some ungrammatical German that would make a purist wince but which the lovely Germans smile and accept). Actually, I think some of the older languages, like Latin and Greek, very useful because there are so many borrowed words from them, or words which are constructed from them in a wide range of other languages.

Annie West said...

Hi Alison,

Yes, it's enormous fun seeing your work in another language, even if it means you have to pick out the sounds in say, the Cyrillic alphabet for the Russian edition. I'm always stunned at the idea of people in another country, like Poland or Argentina (which seem so far away) reading my books in their own language.

Ooh, I so agree with you about Italian sounding wonderful! All the more reason to dream of a sexy Italian hero (G)!


Annie West said...

Hi Crystal,

Wouldn't it be great to be fluent in another language. I can't claim that, though I find when I'm overseas my language skills do improve. I think it's wonderful when people can speak another language. And French, like Italian, sounds so good!


Annie West said...

Hi Penney,

The covers are fun aren't they? Actually, I have to say the Korean one, at the top of the post, is a great one. The texture of the pages is lovely, the quality of the actual cover is gorgeous, the print looks terrific (even though I can't read it) with each chapter beginning with a floral decoration. I must say I did wonder where Marina and Ronan were (my h&h) since they weren't on the cover, then decided they must have left the room to pose in the pool for the Greek cover you see a little further down the page!


Annie West said...

Hi Maureen, it's hard to find time to take on something new, like learning a new language. It's challenging, though they do say it's a great way to keep your mind active and young. Who knows, maybe one day you'll be reading romances in Spanish!


Annie West said...

Hi Pat,

Wow, Spanish and Japanese in the same family! Good on your daughter for learning Japanese, which isn't an easy one to master. We know people who studied it at University level, and others who left high school then had a year in Japan immersing themselves in it. All love it. My own children started with Japanese in the first few years of school but sadly when we moved it wasn't available in their new school.


Annie West said...

Ah, Anna, isn't it wonderful looking at the foreign editions? I've got a few I can't wait to get in my hot little hands on - I've just seen the covers for some Portuguese editions with very hot sheikhs indeed. I bet yours will be lovely - no wonder you can't wait. Will look forward to seeing them in person.

Smiling here at your list of languages. No wonder you get on so well with my family! I'm always astounded by the language knowledge here. We were at a trivia night recently with the children where I answered a question about Iceland that I knew only because my dh had read the Icelandic sagas in the original Old Norse and told me about them. Then he answered a question which revealed the fact that he'd read medieval Dutch (which the kids were terribly impressed with) and then something else based on a current European language. All good fun! But not as much fun as using a language when you're overseas.


Annie West said...

Ooh, Mari, I'm not surprised your friend is finding it difficult to learn Chinese. That's a language I think would be much easier to start as a child. But waving a magic wand would be such fun. Think of how many people you'd be able to chat with if you spoke it!


Annie West said...

Hi Estella,

I'm glad you found the covers interesting. It was hard to choose which ones to put with the blog as there are some lovely ones. I've put a few others up on Facebook, foreign versions of my current book.

Best of luck with the German!


macbeaner said...

Her books sound absolutely wonderful!

Kytaira said...

I took German in HS and for a short time in college. It was really helpful when I was stationed in Germany!

I would love to learn Greek or Japanese. My sister is fluent in French and Russian.

I know alot of people that speak Spanish - They are all men though! One is my 17 yr old son but I'm thinking he wouldn't be interested!

Annie West said...

Hi Macbeaner. Nice to see you here!

Annie West said...


No, I suspect you're right and your 17 yo son isn't into romance written primarily for women! How cool that you got to use your German. And how interesting that your sister is fluent in both Russian and French. Russian seems very exotic to me.

Annie West said...

Sorry to be late drawing a winner, folks. I've had a huge day here entertaining friends from overseas. Have just made it back and am snaffling a quick couple of minutes at the computer.

Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts and experiences with languages. And thanks so much too for your good wishes.

I've quickly just drawn a name from among those who left a comment, and the winner is Laurie. CONGRATULATIONS, LAURIE. Please email me at so we can organise for you to receive your prize.

For those of you interested in winning more free books, check out my website in another couple of weeks as there'll be a mammoth new contest up there.

All the best, and thanks for chatting, I've had a lovely time.


Laurie said...

Thank you Annie! I'm going to share these books with my daughter, Lara!!

Yes, I did use my French twice. One trip took us to Montreal & Toronto, Canada. The second, we went on a trip to Paris when I was 16. I was not good enough to keep up with the natives. Wow They seemed to speak on warp speed. BUT, we had a lot of fun attempting to be understood.

wu said...

How terrific that you still remember a little Greek. It's a lovely language. I've learned a bit of it but am so rusty from lack of use that I wouldn't claim to speak it. When I was little one of our neighbours was Dutch and I can still remember singing songs in Dutch with her but I've forgotten it all now.
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