Translations of a novel: thinking global

11:20 AM / Posted by Lisa Yarde / comments (0)

I've mentioned in an earlier post that I'm looking into translations of the novels of the Sultana series. My foray into foreign rights sales has spurred a serious interest in seeing these books in other languages. My first choice of Spanish seems especially appropriate; not only because of the setting of the stories, but the number of Spanish speakers worldwide. In Spanish bookstores (yes, they still exist outside the US), particularly at the bookshop of the Alhambra, I saw lots of historical fiction titles revolving around the Moorish period - guess what language they were in? Not English. Years ago, I started learning some basics of Spanish using Fluenz, in part because the country is such a fun destination for me, but also to aid my understanding of the research materials I've depended on to write the series. My foray is little help in preparing for the task of translating half a million words into a language spoken by 400 million people worldwide. Why?  

With all the native speakers, there are regional variations in the language. Beyond that, there are simply different ways in which someone can choose to express themselves, with the use of idiomatic phrases in a certain context. Ideally, I would like the person who undertakes the first translation to do so for all the books, which would be a huge commitment, but would hopefully reduce some of the variation. In reviewing the possibilities for translation, I asked potential translators of Sultana to provide a sample of the following section from the first novel:
Aisha smiled again, but it seemed sad. “Hush now, child, listen well. Understanding shall come. Even when you must do what others command, never forget the power of your own reasoning. One day, your husband may rule your body, he may even come to rule your heart, but your mind is and always must be your own, where none but you may rule. Promise me that you shall never forget these words.” 

Fatima swayed slightly. Her throat hurt, but she whispered, “I promise.” 

She returned Aisha’s intent stare, for the first time, unafraid. Aisha’s eyes glistened like gems in the lamplight. 

“This is the only measure of advice I can give you, Fatima. You must learn the ways of men, as I have. Do not trust in men alone. Love, be dutiful and respectful, but trust yourself and your instincts first. They shall always guide you rightly.”
Here are the samples from two translators born in Spain.

Sample 1

Aisha sonrió de nuevo, pero su sonrisa parecía triste. 

-Ahora guarda silencio, niña, y escucha atentamente. La comprensión vendrá. Aunque tengas que hacer lo que otros te ordenen nunca olvides el poder de tu propio razonamiento. Un día, tu esposo puede que controle tu cuerpo, puede incluso que quiera mandar en tu corazón, pero tu mente es y siempre deberá ser tuya y nadie más que tú debe mandar sobre ella. Prométeme que nunca olvidarás estas palabras.

Fátima se balanceó ligeramente. Le dolía la garganta pero susurró:

-Lo prometo.

Ella devolvió la mirada decidida de Aisha en la que por primera vez no aparecía el miedo. Los ojos de Aisha brillaban como piedras preciosas a la luz de una lámpara.

-Este es el único consejo que puedo darte, Fátima. Debes aprender cómo actúan los hombres de la misma manera que yo lo he hecho. No confíes solo en los hombres. Ama, sé obediente y respetuosa, pero confía en ti misma y en tus instintos primero. Ellos serán siempre los que mejor te guiarán.

Sample 2


Aisha esbozó una sonrisa, pero era incapaz de ocultar su tristeza.
–Guarda silencio, niña mía, y escucha con atención. Lo que te voy a decir a continuación lo entenderás a su debido tiempo. Incluso cuando debas hacer lo que te ordenen, nunca olvides el poder que la razón te otorga. Algún día tu marido será el dueño de tu cuerpo e incluso puede que se apropie de tu corazón. Pero tu mente es y deberá ser siempre tuya, es el lugar donde nadie más tiene el control. Ahora, prométeme que nunca olvidarás éstas mis palabras.
Fatima se balanceó levemente y, a pesar del nudo que tomó forma en su garganta, suspiró:
–Lo prometo.
Y le devolvió a Aisha su intensa mirada que, por vez primera, transmitía temor: sus ojos brillaban como gemas a la luz de las velas.
–Fatima, este es el único consejo que te puedo dar. Debes ser capaz de entender a los hombres tal y como yo lo hago. Nunca debes de depositar tu confianza solo ellos. Ama, sé responsable  a la par que respetable, pero antes de nada ten confianza en ti misma y en tus instintos ya que te guiarán por el camino correcto.


Wish me luck as I go about deciding on the right person to tackle the novel. If you're an author considering translations of your work, hiring a translator isn't cheap. I've received a great offer on the existing series, but it's still in the range of thousands of dollars. Consider the following resources:


Labels: ,

Happy Release Day for Sultana: The Bride Price

4:15 PM / Posted by Lisa Yarde / comments (2)

It's finally here! Sultana: The Bride Price went live on Amazon and Scribd today; I expect Barnes & Noble and Kobo later. Apple will take the longest, as it always does. Huge thanks to everyone who put the novel on this list on its first day of availability at Amazon:#87 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Biographical. During the first two weeks of publication, I'll offer the title at 99 cents. Save $3 before the price updates to $3.99. Why am I launching at 99 cents? To generate reader interest, to get some visibility online where it's becoming increasingly difficult to do so without shelling out hundreds of dollars with sites that will lists books, and because the series is not part of KDP Select, which lifts some titles out of obscurity.


Here's the description:


Sultana: The Bride Price (A Novel of Moorish Spain) [Kindle Edition] 


Book #4 of the Sultana series.

In fourteenth-century Moorish Spain, a marriage of convenience for the sake of peace leads to disaster in the medieval kingdom of Granada. The young queen Jazirah, caught up in a dynastic struggle between warring brothers, fights for her survival. Wed to a husband who looks at her with more suspicion than lust in his eyes, she must escape reminders of a brutal past in a quest to find forgiveness, hope, and love. 

Her husband Muhammad faces greater peril than union with a wife he cannot trust. Surrounded by enemies within his family who seek the throne and undermined by ministers who would alter the course of his country’s future, he intends to rule the land of his ancestors alone. How can he endure against his most bitter opponents, not least among them, the woman whom he has chosen for a bride?

Snippet: 

“Why do you speak of me as if I am not here?” Jazirah demanded. Despite the collective gasps from everyone in attendance, she continued, “We may address each other as equals for we are both the grandchildren of a Sultan of Gharnatah.”

Her father admonished, “Jazirah, you are not the equal of a man, least of all the Sultan! You will apologize and beg his forgiveness. Now!”

Muhammad raised a hand. While Ismail fell silent and glared at Jazirah, she returned his narrowed stare with intense regard.

The Sultan said, “Let her keep false words behind her teeth. I would not believe them. What else could I expect, but this behavior from the daughter of a traitor to his people and my father?”

Labels: ,

Update on the Sultana series

2:16 PM / Posted by Lisa Yarde / comments (0)

The official release date of Sultana: The Bride Price is Monday, June 30. At long last and after a little consternation and probably too much nit-picking, I'm finally able to offer the title as an ebook. The paperback will be ready one month later.

One of the changes made in Sultana: The Bride Price was the exclusion of the historical events from my Author's Note. For readers who are really interested, those details will be posted on The Sultana Series page of my website by June 30. The link will be embedded in all digital versions. While many readers have told me how much they appreciated the details of the past, the historical notes for The Bride Price added nearly twenty pages to the manuscript. In addition to the histories of the main characters, I've included information on the prominent ministers who served Muhammad V, as well as some of his descendants. Unfortunately for the Moors, the reign of Muhammad V was the last glorious heyday of the Nasrid dynasty before family squabbles began the downward spiral. The Nasrids proved too adept at destroying themselves from within, long before the intentions of the Catholic Monarchs Isabella and Ferdinand came to fruition. That doesn't mean I plan to end this series on a somber note, but if there's been one consistent theme of each book, it has been that the bonds between family are very important and when those bonds begin to fray, disaster often follows. 

In other series' news, I'm looking into Arabic, German, and Spanish translations of each novel, and I've finished the outline and character list of Sultana: The Pomegranate Tree, which I'll start writing in 11 days. Wow, 11 days. The next novel makes a huge leap of eight decades from the time of Muhammad V to the tail end of the fractured reign of his grandson, Muhammad IX. Not that interesting stuff didn't happen in that 80 year  span - the problem is that too much happened! More importantly, no truly strong queen of the caliber of Fatima, Butayna or Maryam has come down through history for me to write about her in those times. Four books down, two more to go! Once the series is done in 2015, all six books will be bundled as an ebook only. Lastly, I'm working out a snafu with Amazon whereby Sultana has not been available as a paperback sold directly from their website since September 2013. Resolving this hasn't been fun, but I'm nothing if not persistent.

Labels:

Sultana: The Bride Price - Book Trailer

8:39 PM / Posted by Lisa Yarde / comments (4)

Meet the characters - Haziyya al-Riyad

5:28 PM / Posted by Lisa Yarde / comments (0)

HRH Princess Lalla Salma of Morocco,
inspiration for Haziyya al-Riyad
In Sultana: The Bride Price, the love of Muhammad V's life is not his future bride Jazirah, but a woman of Tuareg / Berber heritage from the Rif mountains of Morocco. Haziyya al-Riyad, whose name translates as "garden favorite" is a purely fictionalized character. The histories I have of Muhammad V don't mention another wife or any concubines by name, but it is likely he had some favored woman or women at his side as his Nasrid ancestors did. When I was writing, I imagined Muhammad as a young ruler seeking not only the pleasures of women in his life, but a companion with whom he could share his life. Haziyya is a strong character, among other strong characters, with a Berber father and a Tuareg mother whose cultural dress and beliefs she favors.    

The physical description of the character was inspired by a photo I had seen of the royal consort of Morocco, Princess Lalla Salma, who is from the capital at Rabat. The queen is a natural redhead; a small percentage of people of Berber descent in the north of her birthplace have red and blond hair. Berbers were part of the first wave of Muslim invaders that Spain faced in the eighth century. One of the most famous rulers of  the country, Abd al-Rahman I of the Umayyad dynasty (whom I'll talk about much more in the future) supposedly had blond or reddish-blond hair inherited from his Berber mother. One of the Berber dynasties I have featured prominently in the novels of the Sultana series are the Marinids, who ruled Morocco from 1248 to 1465. In Sultana: The Bride Price, the Marinids are key allies of Muhammad V.

The Tuareg are a Berber people, who have typically survived in a nomadic lifestyle ranging throughout the Sahara. They have lived in the region for centuries, surviving Arab and later colonial incursions, while maintaining a fascinating culture with enduring rituals. They are sometimes referred to as the 'Blue People' for their garments often dyed a deep shade of indigo, which then rubs off on their skin. The men of their tribes veil their faces, but the women do not. For several centuries, the Tuareg held beliefs in the spiritual properties of plants and animals, but with the advent of Christianity and Islam, those later beliefs have been incorporated.

The character of Haziyya al-Riyad embodies the pride of the Tuareg people and a Berber heritage. Learn more about her in Sultana: The Bride Price. 


Labels: , , , ,

Meet the characters - Muhammad V

1:51 PM / Posted by Lisa Yarde / comments (0)

At the same time as the Meet My Main Character theme had become popular on the blogs of other writers of historical fiction, I had planned to introduce the others in my cast of characters from Sultana: The Bride Price. Here's the hero of the novel, Sultan Muhammad V.

Rudolf Swoboda's "Portrait of Abdul Karim: The Mushni" (1888)
reminds me of Muhammad V. Courtesy of Wiki Commons
Readers of Sultana: Two Sisters while remember Muhammad as the only son of Sultan Yusuf and his former Christian slave, Butayna. At the abrupt end of his father's life, Muhammad came to the throne. The novel opens with him at fourteen months into his reign, where he is contemplating more than just the marriage offer made to his cousin Jazirah, which I talked about in a previous post. I imagine Muhammad's physical appearance as similar to this painting; he's dark-haired, a bit burly, always well-dressed, but saddled with a brooding personality.

As the eldest of the three sons of Yusuf, Muhammad faces turmoil within his harem. He's plagued by worry that his stepmother Maryam, the villainess of Two Sisters, is plotting against him along with the governors of his province. Since Yusuf did not officially name an heir before his death, leaving it to high ranking ministers to select Muhammad, his position is a little precarious. The continued rivalry between his mother Butayna and Maryam becomes dangerous, as each women develops factions for support within and outside the palace. Muhammad's been burdened by duty for so long that he can't even contemplate marriage to the woman he truly loves, a Berber concubine named Haziyya al-Riyad. Even more perplexing, Haziyya nor any other concubine in his harem has managed to conceive a son for him in years. Coupled with the fact that his future bride's father numbers among malcontents who wonder whether Muhammad's ministers made the right choice of an heir, he doesn't start off the novel in a very happy place.    

Muhammad is, as with most of my characters, based on the historical figure of Sultan Abu Abdallah Muhammad V of the Nasrid Dynasty, based within Granada's Alhambra. Born January 4, 1338, he ascended the throne when he was sixteen immediately after his father's death. In writing about him, I didn't have to dig too deep to imagine what life would have been like for a teenager to lose a parent - my father died when I was the same age. Luckily, I didn't have even one quarter of the responsibilities Muhammad would have faced at the time. As the new ruler of a kingdom slowly shrinking while the Castilians and Aragonese nibbled away at Granadine territory in the north and the Muslims of Morocco tried to influence Granada's politics and future, Muhammad needed counselors at his side. He relied upon two men from his father's reign in particular, each of whom play strong secondary characters, the ministers Ridwan and Ibn al-Khatib. But there comes a time in every young person's life when you want to step out from the shadows cast by the adults in your life, and Muhammad's experience wasn't any different.

He was one of the most enlightened rulers of Moorish Spain. He is largely responsible for the beauty within Alhambra that we are fortunate to see today. He ordered the construction of one of the best hospitals in fourteenth century Spain, the Maristan. When the Castilians under Enrique II began a relentless persecution of Jews, Muhammad welcomed them into Granada. He met or knew many of the famed scholars of the time, including Ibn Battuta who visited during Yusuf's reign and Ibn Khaldun, who would later serve as an ambassador to Castile on Muhammad's behalf. He regained much of the territory lost by his ancestors to other rulers, including a major victory at the port city of Algeciras in 1369. During his reign, he sired at least four sons and one daughter, leaving his kingdom and his heir poised to continue with great achievements.

How does my portrayal square with the real Muhammad V? The factual accounts of his life certainly influenced the events I've written about in The Bride Price, but historical fiction isn't just names, dates and places. It's about people. In the novel, Muhammad is shrewd beyond his years, but also a very suspicious young man who sees traitors hiding in every darkened corner. The sudden loss of his father shapes his perspective, as does his relationship with his mother, who as a Christian and a former slave, is viewed with some merited suspicion by others in the kingdom. When she exhibits very secretive behavior while insisting on her son's marriage to a traitor's daughter, Muhammad can't help but wonder whether his mother has his best interests at heart. I don't doubt the real ruler must have faced similar quandaries, not knowing whom to trust. Find out how the fictionalized Muhammad resolves his difficulties in Sultana: The Bride Price.                   

Labels: , , , , ,

Sultana: free for 3 days on Kindle

7:00 AM / Posted by Lisa Yarde / comments (0)

Sultana: A Novel of Moorish Spain (Sultana: Book 1) is free on Kindle April 17 - 19. Get caught up on the series before the fourth book, Sultana: The Bride Price, makes its debut in May. http://authl.it/16r.

In thirteenth-century Moorish Spain, the realm of Granada is in crisis. The union of Fatima, granddaughter of the Sultan of Granada, with the Sultan’s nephew Faraj has fractured the nation. A bitter civil war escalates and endangers both Fatima and Faraj’s lives.

All her life, Fatima has sheltered in lavish palaces where danger has never intruded, until now. A precocious child and the unwitting pawn of her family, she soon learns how her marriage may determine her future and the fate of Granada. Her husband Faraj has his own qualms about their union. At a young age, he witnessed the deaths of his parents and discovered how affluence and power offers little protection against indomitable enemies. Guilt and fears plague him. Determined to carve his own destiny, Faraj struggles to regain his lost inheritance and avenge his murdered family.

Throughout the rugged frontiers of southern Spain, the burgeoning Christian kingdoms in the north and the desert states of North Africa, Fatima and Faraj survive ruthless murderers and intrigues. They unite against common enemies bent on destroying the last Moorish dynasty. While Fatima and Faraj establish a powerful bond, the atmosphere of deceit creates opportunities for mistrust and tests their love.

Snippet:

Aisha smiled again, but it seemed sad. “Hush now, child, listen well. Understanding shall come. Even when you must do what others command, never forget the power of your own reasoning. One day, your husband may rule your body, he may even come to rule your heart, but your mind is and always must be your own, where none but you may rule. Promise me that you shall never forget these words.”

Fatima swayed slightly. Her throat hurt, but she whispered, “I promise.”

She returned Aisha’s intent stare, for the first time, unafraid. Aisha’s eyes glistened like gems in the lamplight.

“This is the only measure of advice I can give you, Fatima. You must learn the ways of men, as I have. Do not trust in men alone. Love, be dutiful and respectful, but trust yourself and your instincts first. They shall always guide you rightly.”

Labels: , , , ,