By Mathilde Madden
It's a strange experience: holding a book in your hands that has your name on the cover. And not being able to read a word of it.
My first ever foreign rights sale was a Norwegian version of Peep Show. After I had got over how non-plussed I was with the cover. (A woman in lingerie! For a book about a woman who spies on gay men having sex? Huh?) And the title: Kinky.com! *Peh!* I started wondering about the inside.
I mean - my words. I know how precious this sounds - but my words! My lovely, lovely words. Um, I'll stop that now.
Peep Show's written in first person present. Super tight point of view and a very quirky voice. I just wanted to know if my translator had done that too. How had this come across:
I pull open the front door and hurl myself out into the vicious cold of the arctic cul-de-sac. Making giant cartoonish stampy steps to keep my feet warm, I head down the slope to the main road and lean against the bus shelter.
It’s not long before our Ford Focus rounds the corner and slides to a halt beside me. And, feeling just like Kate Winslet must have done when that lifeboat came back for her (except for the dead Leonardo bit), I open the passenger door and tumble into a comforting womb-like fug of blasting heat and blasting Joy Division.
Christian finally rolls in at 3am. I’m so sozzled by this time I’m totally recumbent. With a whoop of greeting that betrays the fact that he has also had more than a drink or two, Christian takes a flying leap from the doorway onto sofa and my prostrate form. Luckily I’m merry enough to be more or less anaesthetised to the floor shaking impact of his misjudged belly-flop.
Lying full length on top of me, he observes me for a sec, in super close up, no doubt clocking my bleary eyes and wobbly movements.
‘Baby,’ he says, his voice kind of soft-loud, which is Christian’s pathetic version of a whisper, rendered even less like one by his own alcohol consumption. ‘Baby, are you pissed?’
‘Bit, maybe.’ I say. And Christian goggles, understandably, because I don’t really drink. I have my vices and alcohol just isn’t one of them. Control freaks like me don’t like to drink. Well, except when they have to ask their boyfriend to pretend to be them in some kind of homoerotic tragi-farce. Which, frankly, is the very definition of exceptional circumstances.
Christian leans in and pops a beery kiss on my lips. Normally I hate the taste of beer on his breath, but a few drinks always make me horny, and so I stretch up as he retreats from the kiss, and catch his mouth a full on lusty smacker. Then, somehow, the frantic snogging that quickly ensues, causes Christian to fall completely off the sofa, taking me with him, and next moment we are rolling around on the floor, all panting hot breath and fabric tugging hands.
It’s not a shag really. It’s more of a clumsy clothing-shedding fumble, which turns into penetration through sheer fluke. And it ends, with Christian collapsing, unsated on top of me laughing and spluttering, ‘I can’t. It’s going soft.’ It’s possibly the worst wannabe-fuck that Christian and I have ever perpetrated together.
So we abort and in our drunken states we roll into bed. Alarms are not set. Clothes (the ones that survived the shag, at least) are not properly removed. Huge, reviving glasses of water are not drunk. And hangovers develop nicely.
There's really no way of knowing. The only Norwegian in my world is the practice nurse at my local medical centre - and I just wouldn't know how to begin to ask.
So, having your work translated, tell me, and exciting yet strangely frustrating experience? And if you're a reader, tell me