A few months ago, I posted that I had a few interviews upcoming with authors who were bilingual, which I found absolutely fascinating. (And I’m also a little jealous…if I tried to write even a haiku in German or Russian, it would be a tremendous effort…and I’m not sure it would be successful…) One of those interviews was Icelandic author Hildur Enóla, who was gracious enough to offer to talk about writing, and writing in another language. Although I and my blog took a little unexpected hiatus due to birth, I would like to offer now, for your reading pleasure, a conversation with Hildur about writing, writing fantasy, and writing in another language…
Q (Infamous Scribbler): Please tell me a little bit about yourself and your history as a writer.
A (Hildur Enóla): I have been writing for years now, but it seems that things started to move quite a bit faster when I joined the Icelandic Critique Circle. There I met like-minded people, including Sirrý Sig, who is now a good friend, colleague, and writing partner.
Q: On your Goodreads profile, you mention that you primarily write fantasy, with some horror. What is it about these genres that appeal to you?
A: I guess I enjoy writing fantasies because there is enough of the gloomy, ordinary life around all the time. My writing doesn´t necessarily have to reflect that, but rather the inspired, fun stuff that dances around in my head.
Q: You are a bilingual author, writing in both Icelandic and English. What are some challenges you have faced in achieving that level of proficiency?
A: Doesn´t that sound fancy? Bilingual! (Hildur scratches her head, and stares in bewilderment at the screen.) Well, I translate some of our stuff to English—or try to, at least. English is my second language.
The greatest challenge I have with English is that I keep second guessing everything I write. I constantly refer to dictionaries, and look up word definitions and synonyms. I check with, “use *** in a sentence,” even though I know perfectly well that what I´m writing is correct. I´m never ever this meticulous when writing in Icelandic, with which I´m perfectly comfortable using the worst slang, and making up strange words and phrases.
I really don´t know if I have any level of proficiency in either language, I just like to write and work with words and text.
Q: Do you write the same sorts of formats and genres (i.e. Short stories, novels, fantasy, horror) in both languages? What determines which language you will choose for a new piece?
A: Yes, of course I write the same stuff in both languages; I´m the same person on both sides of the border. Usually I start with Icelandic, and translate from there, but not always. When I´m dealing directly with English-speakers, interviews, book reviews etc., then I start in English.
Q: How has writing in a foreign language shaped you as an author?
A: Well, my Icelandic keeps getting worse—Sirrý pulls me through there—and my wonderful proofreader/editor at A Step Up Editing keeps my English floating. Then there is a third problem, and that is that I live in Denmark, and therefore babble (or more like gurgle) all day in Danish at my day job. So, I guess I´m learning how to express myself with a more limited vocabulary, ha, ha.
Q: What books do you have available now?
Q: What is up next for you and your publishing partner?
A: We are launching a wonderful illustrated children’s book, called “The Green Monsters.” It just came out in Icelandic, and Sirrý Sig is hosting a publishing party on October 4th. We made only 100 copies, which are all signed and numbered by Sirrý and Dani Eiri, the illustrator, and we´re selling them through personal channels and social media.
The English print on-demand version will be ready in October 2014.
Q: Anything else you would like to share?
A: Yes: my Halloween 2014 video story:
Thank you very much to Hildur for stopping by to talk about writing and your work!