Has writing in more than one language become a thing of the past?
We know of George Sand who wrote in English and French two centuries ago, Joseph Conrad, a Polish national whose English works became world-famous and Andre Brink who translated his works from Afrikaans into English. You may think that many well-known authors were translated into various languages through their publishers. That may be true, but how many multi-lingual authors do you know?
Meet Evadeen Brickwood, a novelist who hails from Johannesburg, South Africa. She began her writing career in 2003 with ‘Children of the Moon’, the first book in the ‘Remember the Future’ series. Three books later this YA/Time Travel/Science Fiction series still enjoys popularity around the world and most recently, ‘Children of the Moon’ won the 2017 Book Talk Radio Club Award for best science fiction. She also began writing adventure and crime mystery novels based on her own rather interesting life as a young woman when the publishing industry took a nose-dive around 2008. Drawing on her experiences when she travelled on a shoestring, stayed with friends and friends of friends. Now her books benefit from her close observations that form a rich background of the various cultures that she encountered.
And yes, you guessed it, she writes in more than one language. Growing up in Germany didn’t restrict her to learning only her home language. Latin became her first foreign language at school in grade 5, then English, French, Spanish, some Greek and Urdu and Setswana. In 1988, she set off for Africa as a qualified translator and moved to Botswana for 2 years, before she settled in South Africa. Her first Africa-novel ‘Singing Lizards’ was published in both English and German. In fact she is busy translating her latest novel, ‘The Rhino Whisperer’ into German as well, and the only novel, she ever wrote in German, ‘A Half Moon Adventure’, has been released in English. Merely translating a book doesn’t do the trick.
The story has to be re-written. According to Evadeen, talent alone is not enough to make your mark as a bi-lingual author. It takes tons of hard work – think of the theory that it takes 10,000 hours to perfect a skill – sheer determination and a good support system. That includes champions such as bloggers and promoters in different markets as well as editors, proof and test readers who check that your work is up to scratch.
If you are a bi-lingual or multi-lingual author and feel disheartened at the prospect of all that work - don’t. You can do it too, if you are really determined to perfect your skill, something that makes you stand out. At least, according to Evadeen. “Give it a try and learn as much as you can about your craft. Or perhaps you have a talent of a different nature that you can hone. Just take a leap and see where it takes you. I know that’s what I did. And it gets easier with time,” she says.
Her just-do-it philosophy has worked for Evadeen Brickwood and perhaps you should give it a try, too. Perhaps we can make writing in different languages fashionable again.
Award-winning author, Evadeen Brickwood,
writes adventure mysteries and time travel books
and lives with her family in Johannesburg.