Natascia Luchetti is a translator for Italian publisher Delrai Edizioni. She worked on my Traveling Series books, sending me messages as she read, telling me she laughed or cried, enjoying what she called ‘the poetry’ of the language. I knew then that I’d been very, very lucky with Delrai’s choice of translator. But maybe that’s because she’s also an author in her own right.
She also translated my first book with Stu Reardon, Undefeated, that became Invincible in Italian. After months of exchanging emails and messages, we finally met in Rome in the summer of 2017.
Author and translator: how do her dual roles work?
Your language skills are amazing! When did you start learning English?
I started learning English during Elementary School, but it was just a game at the time. I started loving this language when I was attending the Medium School, but I began using it when I was 15. I met a Finnish young man and I needed English to communicate with him. It helped me more than everything else, and I got my Cambridge FIRST Certification with no problems. It took another four years to read and translate books for my family and my friends. I got my chance to use my abilities by working in Delrai Edizioni many years later. It was a dream come true.
What was the first book you translated?
Officially, the first book I translated was ‘The Traveling Man’ by Jane Harvey-Berrick, but I translated more books for fun and for my friends some years ago; vampires and horror novels we couldn’t find here in Italy.
Wow! I didn’t know that! I’m honoured – thank you very much! What do you enjoy about translating?
What are the challenges?
Reading in English and translating is a big challenge. You’ve got to transform a text, adapt it to Italian and maintain the same efficacy, and the same harmony of its original language. English is a beautiful language, simple, direct and sometimes sharp, and you have to adapt it. This process is pretty hard, but it’s so satisfying.
What books would you have liked to translate?
I’d like to translate ‘Dracula’ or ‘Frankenstein’ with an updated Italian, more readable for young people.
I’d like to translate the last books of the ‘Vampires Chronicles’ by Anne Rice. I love this author with all my heart. [Me, too, Natascia. Me, too. ‘Interview with the Vampire’ is one of my favourite books ever.]
Do you ever read translated books in Italian and think, ‘Ouch! That’s not great!’ How does that make you feel about your job?
I’ve read a lot of terrible translations and I decided to read those books in English because I wanted to know if they were as terrible as they seemed. Well, they weren’t. Unfortunately, Italian professional translators are not writers, they translate texts without adapting them to our language. They perform a literal translation which is not possible in that case. You can understand the meaning, but you lose the efficacy of the original version, its harmony, and the effect the author wants to communicate with his or her work. It’s a violence! And there’s another big problem; Italian Publishing Houses have haste to publish and don’t check or edit the translated novels as they should. The most translated genre is Erotic Romance, you know, and Publisher Houses want to make money as soon then they can. I know it’s a sharp answer, but it’s the cruel reality.
How did you start working for Delrai Edizioni and when was that?
I was a published author by Delrai Edizioni, with my first gothic novel ‘Dracula’, when Malia [Delrai] made me read the plot of ‘The Traveling Man’. “Man!” I said, “It’s amazing!” I asked her if I could help and I did a short trial. Malia was satisfied by my work, so I began translating the series. It has been a so gratifying work. Thank you!
Thank YOU! I loved getting all your messages while you were translating – it was so heartening to know that you understood the story; you understood me.
How important is a good translator?
The translator must know how to write a book. You cannot translate a novel just to show the meaning of the sentences. You must live the text, make it yours and translate it as a novel, not as a shopping list. A novel is a piece of art, it has a meaning, and must transmit emotions. So you have to do your best to keep the beauty and the power of the original text. If you can’t do this, change job.
As well as a translator, you’re also an author. Tell us about the books you’ve written.
I’m a mainly a gothic author. I’m in love with vampires, ghosts, monsters and angels stuff. I love horror, dark and gloomy settings, I love legends and myths. I adore monsters and I like to give them lost or forgotten humanity. I wrote about Dracula in ‘Dracula: Love Never Dies’. I shifted sides with Van Helsing in ‘Van Helsing: Blood Never Lies’, and now I’m working in an apocalyptic world during a war between evil angels and hunted devils, which will come very soon.
What is the most rewarding part of being a writer?
Being loved by people. Reviews, feedbacks, love messages for your work well done. This is the best part of the game.
As a writer, what is the piece of work of which you’re most proud?
I’m proud of all I have written, but the hardest work of mine is Van Helsing’’ because I wrote it twice and I grew up a lot in the process.
What do you want to achieve next?
I dream to keep on writing, satisfying myself and all the people who are following my work. It’s a simple achievement, I know. I don’t dream fame or glory, I dream to transmit emotion with better and better works.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received: about life / about writing?
Do what makes you happy and satisfies you, the best will follow.
What is your favourite reader experience, either in messages or at an event?
My readers are so affectionate. They’re not many but they’re the sweetest and most sensitive people I know. My favourite event was Tempo di Libri in Milan in 2017. Delrai Edizioni had just published my ‘Dracula’ and people came to meet me. I was so excited. I cried so many times! It’s a sweet memory.
Do you think writers are different to other people? Are we observers? Creators?
Writers are like sponges. They absorb everything, feeling and observing with attention. They use the real world, they manipulate it and they create a new, particular world to tell something to real people. We are both observers and creators. We’re also dreamers. In our deep, we hope that our created world can be partially realized.
Have you ever written with a friend? What was the experience like? How did it differ from writing by yourself? What were the pros and cons?
I love writing with another author. I love to think to the story and the characters with someone else. It’s a very difficult process to do with someone you know well as author, because when I write, I put my soul in creating the project. The first scrap is imperfect, and I like to discuss it with someone I trust as a writer. It’s beautiful to share ideas and also weaknesses to surpass them.
Do you think the Italian romance market is different compared to, say, the US market?
I don’t know well the US market but I know that Erotica sells a lot, more than Romance. Italy is just aping this aspect of US market. Sex sells well, better if badly written, trashy and full of bad names. It’s a sad thing. I see very good authors being unseen because of mercenary writers who complete an uninteresting novel to earn some easy money. This is when writing is no more art but a business.
We tend to think of Italians as very passionate with a love of life. Do you think that’s true?
Italian people are no more like this. 50’-60 ’ Italy was as you may think. The “Bel Paese”, made by loving and passionate people is changed in a cold place of indifference, as all the developed countries. We’re distracted by the US traditions and we lost our identity. We became a weak country, as for economy as for national identity. There are exceptions, of course. Many families are tied to the traditions, especially in southern Italy. If you’re searching for “Italian-ness”, you’ll find it in Naples more than other places.
Tell us a surprising or unusual fact about living and working in Italy.
Writing in Italy is considered a pure hobby, not work. People think that you’re a time-waster and nothing more. This art is considered useless by most Italian people. Kids are bullied because of their love for books. It’s a very sad story.
Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
I love Italy a lot so I think I’ll stay here. I was wondering about transferring to Romania, but I’m undecided about it.
What is your philosophy in life?
Dream big and never give up. It’s hard but you cannot only survive, you must live.
Describe yourself in three words.
Stubborn, sensitive, dreamer.
How would your best friend describe you?
I hope the same way I did.
If you were an animal, what would you be?
An Owl. Sitting silently on a branch in the deep forest of my thoughts.
Most likely to say…
The darkest hour is the one preceding the dawn. (P. Cohelo)
Least likely to say…
I don’t believe in a judgment given without knowing something or someone.
What is your favourite colour and why?
Black, blue and grey, dark red, sometimes; these are gothic colours, the only one I wear, usually.
When you’re having a bad day, what cheers you up?
Writing a homicide.
What would be your ideal day? Where would you be? Who would you be with?
Rainy day, me in my house with my beloved ones. I’m writing while they’re living.
Mountains and snow, or beaches and sunshine?
Mountains and snow, definitely.
What message would you like to give to the people who read your books? Either your original works or in translation?
Everyone is worth being listened to.
Find Natascia here: