November 15, 2011

Submissions now accepted!

Hersilia Press @ 5:46 pm

Hersilia Press was set up with the primary aim of publishing crime fiction in translation from Italian. However, we have recently taken the decision to expand our remit and publish crime novels with an Italian theme although written originally in English.

Therefore, Hersilia Press now accepts submissions either directly or via agents. Our requirements are very simple: please email the first chapter and a synopsis, as a word document, to

We will try to reply to all queries within two weeks. We are happy to consider simultaneous submissions but please let us know if this is the case.

Please look at the type of books we publish before making a submission: we publish crime, detective, noir in the widest sense of the term but all books have to either be set in Italy or have a strong connection with Italy (it is not enough to say that your grandmother came from Italy in the 1950s).

Please bear in mind that publishing a book involves many weeks of editing, discussing, and sometimes agonising over options. It is not something we take lightly. This is why we take pride in our personal connection and support of our authors in what they do.

We can only publish a small number of books per year, therefore please don’t feel discouraged by a rejection, as the editorial line is dictated by the personal taste of those who choose the books informed by with commercial considerations. Even if it doesn’t work for us, your book may be a perfect fit for another publisher.

Thank you. We look forward to hearing from you.

Filed under: crime fiction,submissions

November 8, 2011

The Voice in Your Head

admin @ 7:32 pm

Joan of Arc heard voices. So did the mystics, like Saint Catherine of Siena. Translators hear voices too. Or at least this translator does. Unlike Joan, whose voices were those of angels and saints, or so she claimed, and who always spoke in French, my voices are those of the writers I translate, and they always speak to me in Italian, sometimes with a sprinkling of this or that dialect.

I started thinking about hearing voices when I read a recent blog entry by writer Olivia Boler. In “Reading your stories aloud is a good thing” (, Ms. Boler points out the helpfulness of reading your work aloud, whether you are an author or a translator. While I myself do not routinely do this, I was suddenly reminded of how many times I’ve thought a translation of mine was “final”, only to then find different words coming out of my mouth when I went to read it out loud! This has happened to me even after a work has been edited and published: I take the book with me to a reading, and instead of the words on the page, other words spontaneously pop out! This seems to happen especially with dialogue, which leads me to think that spoken rhythm is different than the voice we “hear” in our heads.

Translators talk a lot about finding the right “voice” to render the soul of the original text. I like to think of it as “channeling” the author’s spirit, whether he be living or long departed. To some extent, all translators are mediums. It’s more challenging when the author is no longer alive and you cannot get to know him, sit down with him over coffee at a café in Italy or communicate directly through e-mail. As novelist Gianrico Carofiglio put it when I mentioned this to him at a recent book event in San Francisco, it’s difficult to ask questions of the deceased! Still, the translator as medium must be able to convey the message, even from the spirits of the dead.

Another challenge is the use of dialect, something which has grown more common in contemporary Italian literature since the postwar period (possibly as a reaction against the levelling of the Italian language, though that’s an entirely different subject). Where the original text is peppered with dialect, especially Sicilian, I hear a different voice: that of my nonna. Sounding out the words in my head – or even reading them aloud – I can “hear” my grandmother saying things like buonanima, God rest his soul; scemuzza, little silly, or scimunite, those silly idiots; picciridda, figghia mia, carusa bedda, various terms of endearment for little girl; ceuse, the delicious, juicy fruit from our mulberry tree; or even entire proverbs, such as “Chi lassa la strata vecchia pi la nova, sapi chiddu ca lassa, ma non sapi chiddu ca trova”, roughly equivalent to “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know”. But along with my nonna’s voice there is always the insistent whisper of the little figure who sits on every translator’s shoulder, persistently murmuring (muttering?) in her ear: the author’s voice, of course. Where would the translator be without him?

–Anne Milano Appel

November 1, 2011

An interview with Dan Holloway

Hersilia Press @ 9:38 am

Dan Holloway is one of the most imaginative people I know in this business. He is the author of The Company of Fellows, a dark psychological thriller set in Oxford, The man who painted Agnieszka’s shoes, an interactive Facebook novel, and Songs from the other side of the wall. He is a Literary Death Match performer and also the publisher at Eight Cuts Gallery. You can see him perform in Oxford quite regularly at the Albion Beatnik or Blackwell bookshops.

He was kind enough to answer a few questions which I’ve been wanting to ask him for a while!

His love for good food and wine is obvious in his writing, so I began by asking him What other writer would you invite for dinner and why?
That’s surprisingly hard to answer. I’m really not good in company, so those “meet your hero” or “ask questions to someone interesting” scenarios are out for starters. I’d go all quiet and gauche and wait for them to leave. So they’d have to be nice, and they’d have to understand that I’m a bit social phobic. And it would help if there was something we could speak about so we didn’t have to either do small talk or stretch the brain too far when it was already under duress. I would say Patti Smith. She’s a hero but she’s also lovely, and down to earth, and I think we could probably spend our time jamming together. Or Nigel Slater, who just seems like a genuinely lovely guy. I can happily imagine spending a few hours swapping recipes and cooking together.

What’s the most adventurous (or scary) thing you’ve ever done?
Mmm, the most scary things are usually the most personal. So I probably won’t go there. I don’t think I’ve ever done anything adventurous. Not by other people’s standards. I don’t know. What do people count as adventurous? I’m happy performing live in front of a crowd; I was a fairly hardcore powerlifter for a few years; some of the places I’ve ended up on my travels are quite hairy I guess, but they’re things I love so they don’t feel adventurous. But if I had a job in an office where I had to wear a suit I’d probably last a day. People in suits frighten the hell out of me.

You work with a lot of Oxfordshire bands and do gigs with music and readings. What is your favourite band?
The White Stripes. No question. I love the absolutely stripped-back aesthetic, the purity of what they do, the whole ethos. The sound’s pretty good too, though in terms of being at a gig I’d probably prefer The Kills. Then again I’ve never seen a live band quite like Nouvelle Vague. They’re totally mental, and you’d never know that listening to a CD.
For Oxford bands I’d have to say Secret Rivals. The energy they generate is quite extraordinary.

In The Company of Fellows your passion for good food and wine is obvious. What’s your favourite wine and what does it go well with?
Tokaji! I’ve written two books now about Tokaji, The Company of Fellows (where it’s, um, a clue. Let’s just say that) and Songs from the Other Side of the Wall, which is set largely on a vineyard in Tokaj. It’s made unlike any other wine, and the very finest, Eszencia, which is literally just the juice that falls out of the bottom of a basket of rotten grapes under the weight of the fruit itself, before it’s pressed, lasts for hundreds of years and has a taste like nothing else on earth. I’m not sure it should go with anything other than candlelight and Paganini, but if you wanted to have some of the slightly lesser Aszu Eszencia before moving on to the main show, maybe Rocquefort, or a poached pear, or foie gras. And it sounds odd but it goes really really well with Hungarian salami made with very sweet paprika.

What do you like to read (and/or) publish?
Publishing’s probably easier to answer. I like something that pulls me up short because it’s unlike anything else, and that deals with humanity in every aspect, that doesn’t skip either the humour or the pain, the hope or the despair. It has to connect with me emotionally, and it has to have an element that’s either visual or musical.
I read all kinds of things. I love thrillers that are either totally lickety-split like Lee Child, or what I guess you’d call literary like Minette Walters or P D James, but my favourites would be Thomas Harris and Val McDermid. I’m also a terrible sentimentalist. I love Murakami, Milan Kundera, Banana Yoshimoto, people who write about quiet heartbreak and nostalgia.

Filed under: Dan Holloway
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