Translator Sally Pane Interviewed in Big Thrill

Sally Pane has translated a number of the Winemaker Detective novels. She was interviewed in Big Thrill Magazine this month.  She talks about the series and the new release: Mayhem in Margaux. Here are the questions she answers.

  • It doesn’t seem necessary to read the earlier books to enjoy this one but could you give us some background on the earlier books?
  • A special charm of the series is the portrayal of quotidian life outside of Paris—in southwestern France—and the insider look at winemaking. In MAYHEM there are enjoyable digressions on summering at a rental villa in Cap Ferrat, the beautiful stones of the Medoc, and corks versus screw tops as well as a touching scene of Benjamin with his daughter visiting from New York. Do each of the books also touch on some current social issue such as gentrification or illegal immigrants?
  • The series is written by a duo of experienced authors, one a wine lover and one a music expert. Could you tell us something more about them? Do you know anything about their collaborative process? How involved are they in the translation into English?
  • There is a successful French TV series based on the books. Is “Blood on the Vine” available in the United States?
  • The publisher, Le French Book, is a relatively new venture, and Penguin is currently publishing new translations of the Inspector Maigret books by Simenon. Do you think there is more receptivity now in the Anglophone world to translated mysteries? Do you have any theories about the boom in translation of Nordic mysteries?
  • This series seems lighter in tone than earlier French mysteries translated into English. Have you observed any major differences between French and American/British mysteries or was the earlier choice of darker and more psychologically based books to translate a matter of chance?
  • You’ve been translating for more than twenty years. Have you seen any changes over that time period? Has the advent of e-books helped increase the visibility of translated books or, on the other hand, made it more difficult to be noticed among the flood of new titles and decrease in print reviews?
  • You have done scientific, legal, and literary translations. What do you find to be the particular challenges and pleasures of translating popular fiction like this series?
  • What do you personally enjoy the most about the Winemaker Detective series?