Linky linky


-Tess Gerritsen on “Non-white heros: the kiss of death in the marketplace” (I realised for the first time that Gerritsen herself was Chinese-American, something that was–I now realise–carefully passed up in bios and promo material, at least over here). And urk. I’d read a thriller with an Asian detective in a heartbeat…

-Cora Buhlert on “Women Writers, international writers, marginalised writers”. Towards the end, she speaks of the tendency to assume that ESL learners have bad English, a fact which I’m all too aware of: I have a stack of reviews which complain about the lack of fluency in my writing style, and what’s fascinating about those is that they all, without exception, were written by people who knew English wasn’t my native language. See Juliette Wade’s awesome post on the subject. It’s an interesting (if infuriating) phenomenon). Though nobody has been pressuring me yet to write more “French” stories. Thank goodness, I wouldn’t know where to start on those…

-Over at the World SF blog, Joyce Chng interviews Malay writer K.S. Augustin.

-Liz Wiliams on “Science Fiction reflects the extremes of human belief”

Yes, I know. Blog’s been fairly quiet. I’m chugging away on the novella, slowly rediscovering the joys of worldbuilding and writing (which took a big hit when my headspace was occupied by the job hunt, the flat renovation, and sundry RL items). Also, dealing with Harbinger of the Storm French translation, plus the edits for Master of the House of Darts just came in, and I realised I hadn’t written the acknowledgements or the historical footnotes at all. Darn. And I thought the summer was going to be quiet…


  1. Of course, it’s even more infuriating if an American (the few times it’s happened to me, it always was an American) tries to lecture you on your own language based on their incorrect assumption of the meaning of a word the English language has borrowed from your language.

    The German promo material also never mentioned that Tess Gerritsen is Chinese-American. I also seem to recall her saying that her Dutch publisher wanted her to use a different pen name for the Dutch editions, because Gerritsen is a fairly common Dutch surname and genre fiction by Dutch authors doesn’t sell apparently, probably because there is hardly any.

    Thanks for the link BTW. Though – tiny correction – my surname is spelled Buhlert.

  2. Arg, so sorry for mispelling your name! Corrected.
    I have never had an American try to correct me on borrowed French words; I think I would have bitten their heads off.. But I’ve had the lectures on usage (I don’t mind getting some idiomatic expressions explained to me; in fact, it happened only the other day; but someone repeatedly telling me that of course I need English explained to me because I’m not a native is… annoying, very much so).
    >her Dutch publisher wanted her to use a different pen name for the Dutch editions, >because Gerritsen is a fairly common Dutch surname and genre fiction by Dutch authors >doesn’t sell apparently, probably because there is hardly any.
    I’m trying to find adequate words, but all I can think of is how angry I am at this…

  3. I’ve had that happen three times, probably because the German borrowed words stand out more than French ones. Once it was a case of false etymology, in the other two cases the word had a narrower meaning in English than in German. I don’t have a problem with the fact that borrowed words can have a narrower or different meaning than in the original language – German had a couple of borrowed pseudo-English words that don’t even exist in English with that particular meaning. It is, however, rude to tell a native speaker that the meaning another language has mistakenly assigned a word is the only correct one.

    And the thing with Tess Gerritsen and her Dutch publisher is absolutely infuriating down to the assumption that nobody would read a genre novel by a local writer. Though at least in Germany, local SF, fantasy, horror and western writers were pushed to use American sounding pen names for pretty much the same reason.

  4. Wow, that is beyond rude…

    I seem to recall that a number of French writers took on American pen names (and started writing American-style thrillers) in order to bolster sales. I’ve only glanced at bookshelves in Germany, but suspect it happens less in France than in Germany or the Netherlands, because we have a strong home market where there still is strong diversity, but still… (speaking of thrillers and mainstream. I confess I’m less expert in speculative fiction, though I’ve never heard of anything like that).

  5. The push to use an American sounding pen name was fairly common on the pulpier edges of popular fiction, whether western, thrillers or SF. Often these names were housenames used by many different writers, e.g. Clark Dalton, author of the Perry Rhodan SF novelettes.

    Nowadays, most of the bigger name SF and fantasy writers no longer try to hide their nationality. But a few writers, mostly women and mostly writing urban fantasy or YA fantasy, still use American sounding pseudonyms.

  6. Aliette, I’ve read a few of your stories in the magazines, and may I say that anyone who complains that your English is “non-native” needs to be smacked upside the head–and *soundly*? You have an amazing gift for words, and I love reading your stories.

    Ignore the pedants and mental-clusterfuck ‘officials’ (you know, people who get off on being able to interfere with someone else’s life because they have a tiny authority to stamp some document, or grant some government request, or similar), and keep writing as you write, because what you write is beautiful.

  7. Grayson: aw, thank you for dropping by, and thank you so much for the reassurance. Definitely much needed and much appreciated.

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