Saturday, March 18, 2017

There's a Turtle on My Title!

This week I received my author copies of Vietnam's edition of The Running Dream. I love my foreign editions. They're fascinating. I may spend more time marveling over them than I do the original book when it's finally something I can hold in my hands. By then, I've been over the manuscript dozens of times and figure there can be no surprises. 

That's not always the case. 

Sometimes the surprise is good - as in Sammy Keyes and the Kiss Goodbye, where there was the absolutely wonderful surprise of the fancy endpages. 

And sometimes the surprise is not good - as also in Sammy Keyes and the Kiss Goodbye where the dedication page was (and is still) missing. 

Usually, though, it's a matter of receiving the book, admiring it for a a little bit with the feeling of immense gratitude that it's finally, finally a real book, and then getting back to work.

The foreign editions are different, because everything about them is new and fascinating and mysterious. And the idea that I'm holding a book that I wrote but can't read gets me every time!

Sometimes the editions arrive and the art is a complete surprise. For example, when I received copies of the French translations of Sammy Keyes, I was shocked to see that Sammy's name had been changed to Sara Kay. 

Who the heck was Sara Kay?

And why make her look like an angry Nancy Drew?

My agent assured me that the foreign publishers understand their marketplace better than we possibly could and to trust them. I have learned to do that. The Sammy Keyes books have done well in France, so maybe a girl with (what seems to be) a boy's name wouldn't fly in their market. 

Sometimes the foreign publisher gets cover approval from the author prior to publication, which was the case with this Vietnamese version of The Running Dream. And I did do a double-take about the art. With the framing trees and the starry feel, it seemed to be art more representative of Flipped.

So I asked my agent about it, and she relayed my query to the publisher in Vietnam, who replied with this explanation: Our keyword is "dream". We show a healthy girl sleeping peacefully, as if after a fierce struggle. It's like a dream within a dream of Jessica.

They also said they felt the artwork would do well in their market, so I'm trusting that it will.

Some other interesting details about the Vietnamese edition: The title, “Đường đua của những giấc mơ,” translates to something like “Race Track of Dreams,” and the book comes with a nifty star-shaped bookmark. Each chapter is labeled "Chuong" which translates to (big surprise) "Chapter," but it's the section headings that I haven't been able to figure out. I think this is because the "a" used in "PHAN" has a special symbol over it. Or a combination of marks. 

The translations I've come up with are "Chalk" or "Phase." I'm pretty sure neither is correct because in analyzing the language, there are a variety of special symbols (and combinations of them) put on letters that change the meaning. The one (or combination) over this "a" looks like a turtle going to the left. There's also a turtle heading to the right on "ket" below "PHAN." (I'm sure these 'turtles' have nothing to do with slow and steady winning the race, although I'm applying my own symbolism anyway!)

So, see? It's fascinating. And that I can't read a word of it makes it even more so. 

If you have any knowledge of the Vietnamese language, please share with us in the comments. And if you know anyone who'd be interested in the Vietnamese translation, here's a link.

Thanks for checking in. Here's to happy surprises landing in your mailbox. Looking forward to chatting with you in the comments!


Catherine Bui said...

Hi Wendelin! I'm a longtime reader and fan of your books, particularly Sammy Keyes :) I'm so glad I came across your blog. I wanted to tell you that I grew up with Sammy Keyes and started following her adventures from 7th grade all through high school, college, and grad school! I really empathized with Sammy and her encounters with Heather and just navigating middle school and life in general. When I finished the series it was bittersweet and felt like an end of an era. Your books have had such an immense impact on my life. Thank you so much! I haven't actually read the Running Dream yet but will definitely be putting it on my reading list now!

I'm Vietnamese-American but I have limited knowledge of the language unfortunately. But I can give a brief overview! You are right about the role of the symbols in how they affect the words' meanings. Vietnamese is a tonal language and uses diacritics to change the way a word is pronounced. So you can have multiple words that are technically spelled the same but have different meanings and pronunciation depending on the diacritics on the vowels. You can combine two at a time as well which explains the "turtle" symbol in the "a" in Phan. I have to say that I love that interpretation of it and I've definitely never thought of it that way before! I asked my mom about the subject header meaning and she said it roughly translated to "Part 1: Drawing (or Marking) the Final." I hope that helps!

Wendelin Van Draanen said...

Catherine - Thank you for leaving a comment and for the information about the Vietnamese language. Fascinating! The translation you give makes complete sense. In the book Part 1 is "Finish Line."

Also, Mark and I exchanged smiles when we read that you kept up with Sammy all the way into grad school, because when we were on tour, the "Sammiacs" who came long distances to get their collections signed were often in grad school and had been reading the series since they were young. So even if you feel like an anomaly, know you're in very good company. I love how smart my readers are :-) I hope you'll continue to stop by the blog. I post once a week, on weekends. Waving, Wendelin

Catherine Bui said...

Ahhh thank you for taking the time to reply to me! I'm happy to share information about Vietnamese and I'm glad my rough translation still made sense :) I just checked out a copy of the Running Dream so I'm excited to start!

And that makes me so happy to hear there are fans out there about my age! I am dating myself here but I moved to Las Vegas for grad school in 2012 and was really homesick for the first few months. But rereading your books that I brought with me helped me adjust and then about a few months later, Showdown in Sin City came out so of course I had to read it! It's now one of my favorites! I've started to read through your past blog posts and it's been fun to see all the background information and the hard work that goes into your stories. I'm excited to keep up with the blog and look forward to future posts! :)

Wendelin Van Draanen said...

It must have been fun to read Sin City while living in Las Vegas! There really are mini-Elvi walking the Strip. What a crazy place!

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Ok I need to get the copy for myself as well, they seem to be good reading. Thank you for sharing such useful blog with us and keep posting such posts