When I’m not writing, I busy myself putting other people’s words into English. This can be a dull activity at times, but it can also spring unexpected surprises and lead to some hairy experiences – like the day a top-secret document was entrusted to my care: during the very time it was tucked away in the safety of my Swiss bunker, two shadowy figures scaled the balcony one night in a bungled attempt to break in. Coincidence? Or were they after the file?
No less concerning was the day a couple of heavies with the look and sound of the Balkan mafia doorstepped me with Serbian papers they wanted to have in English. But a translation business is not a detective agency. And I’m no Philip Marlowe. Or Cormoran Strike. Clients don’t just turn up on the doorstep with an assignment. On the other hand, these men were not the type to take no for an answer. And the work looked innocuous. But was it? I’ll never know: they vanished off the face of the Earth and never paid the bill!
So the business of putting other people’s words into English can also be a rich source of inspiration for putting my own words to ‘paper’. Especially in the borderland of the frontalier or Grenzgänger – the original working title of The Dark Frontier.