Ooh! That’s Interesting!: Emanuela Piasentini on Italian translations


078As you might know, my book Brute came out in Italian this month. Although I unfortunately don’t speak Italian, this translation is especially exciting for me because my grandfather immigrated from Italy. So this week I have another special treat for you. When I was in Orlando last month, the lovely Emanuela Piasentini agreed to sit down with me for an interview. Emanuela is the Italian translations coordinator for Dreamspinner Press.


Me: Tell us a little about yourself.

Emanuela: I’m a tax accountant. By night I check translations and coordinate social media and translations in Italian. I studied languages in school. I was one of the first people to buy a Kindle in Italy. I was recommended Bareback by Chris Martin. From that moment on I was sold. I’m single and I don’t need a guy to save me. I couldn’t read het romance any more.

What are some of the things you have to worry about when doing translations?

Emanuela:Translating the title literally doesn’t always translate the real meaning. Specific cultural references like Isle of Wight sounding like a earworm song or Lord Maudit [from Brute] sounding like a pop song. Or the title might be impossible for Italians to pronounce. Dealing with gendered nouns is also difficult. Many translators read the book first to find consistent concepts so words can be used the same. Translating words with multiple meanings can be hard, too. Like “fruitcake”, which can mean both crazy and gay in English. We need to find an approximation rather than a literal translation.

What are some of the exciting things about translating?

We are changing the language in some ways, such as with the concept of being in the closet. We drop hints to get people used to the idea.

When characters have regional accents, we use bad grammar to signify that.

How do you find translators?

We do tests. They contact Dreamspinner first. We have some who are better with different genres. We also need to find a proofreader who works well with that translator.

Are there any special challenges with the Italian language?

Italian abhors repetition, so we have to avoid “he said” over again.

Words for sex in Italian are either flowery or very dirty. You don’t want to be too fancy. We use more direct words in dialogue, more neutral words in description.

What genres are popular for Italian readers?

Contemporary is popular and westerns. Westerns work better in gay romance than in het. Scifi isn’t popular and neither is steampunk. They’re difficult to grasp. And they’re hard to translate into Italian.

What can you tell us about the Italian market for m/m romance?

The readership is very passionate about m/m. We publish one book per week and the market is growing by word of mouth. The first impact is often negative because it’s women writing m/m or because it’s gay. People ask are they romantic or is it just sex. There are a lot of prejudices and preconceptions to overcome. There’s still a cultural stigma for gay. But Dreamspinner Italian’s Facebook page has gotten 1200 likes in 2 years.

Grazie, Emanuela, for taking the time to chat with me!



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