Thursday, 28 August 2014

Linguistically Challenged Part Four: Blaine D. Arden


Blaine D. Arden is a purple-haired, forty-something author of gay & trans* romance mixed with fantasy, mystery, and magic who sings her way through life in platform boots.

Born and raised in Zutphen, the Netherlands, Blaine spent many hours of her sheltered youth reading, day dreaming, making up stories and acting them out with her Barbies. After seeing the film "An Early Frost" as a teen in the mid-eighties, an idealistic Blaine wanted to do away with the negativity surrounding homosexuality and strove to show the world how beautiful love between men could be. Our difference is our strength, is Blaine's motto, and her stories are often set in worlds where gender fluidity and sexual diversity are accepted as is.

When not writing or reading, Blaine has singing lessons and hopes to be in a band someday. Supporting Blaine in pursuing her dreams and all matters regarding household, sons, and cairn terrier, is her long-suffering husband for over twenty years.

Blaine has been published by Storm Moon Press, Less Than Three Press, and Wilde City Press. Her scifi romance "Aliens, Smith and Jones" received an Honourable Mention in the Best Gay Sci-Fi/Fantasy category of the Rainbow Awards 2012.

Blaine can be found on 

The Questions:

-      What language do you speak most of the time?

Since I live in the Netherlands, I'd assume Dutch, but with my tendency to switch languages willy-nilly it might just as well be fifty-fifty. (I sometimes even forget not to do it when I know the person I'm talking to doesn't understand English)

-      What language do you think in?

I'd say mostly English, since most of what I do that needs thinking about is based in English. But not all of the time. I do think in Dutch as well, just… less and less, it seems.

-      What language do you dream in?

I'm not a fan of dreaming. It seems a weird thing to say for a writer, but I don't like dreaming it all, and I like remembering them even less. Still… right now I'm assuming Dutch, based on the last one I have vague memories of.

-      What language do you swear in after you’ve really hurt yourself?

Funny you should ask. A Mancunian friend of mine told me that that's how you often catch foreigners whose accent doesn't reveal their nationality clearly. By how they swear. I guess I'm a bit of a hybrid in that sense. Over here (points on the map to a city in the east of the Netherlands), I often—not always—curse in Dutch. When I'm in the UK, I mostly tend to swear in English…

-      What language are you most comfortable in?

That is a really tricky question. I live in the Netherlands, so you'd think that that would be the language I'd be most comfortable in, but… I think I'd have to say English. Or maybe it's fifty-fifty again.
It comes with a but, too. I feel most comfortable in English, right until I hit an area where my Dutch vocabulary is more dominant, my English vocabulary lacking, and I keep forgetting that things are not called the same in English. Areas like food-stuffs (and probably some others that I just can't remember right now). Or areas where I'm so used to saying what's basically an English word with a Dutch pronunciation, because that's how my parents pronounced it when I grew up. (I can't stop my habit of saying Cor-Ned beef instead of Corned beef).

-      How easy or difficult is it for you to switch from one language to the other?

Very easy. When talking to friends (Dutch friends or a group of both English and Dutch friends who all do speak English) either IRL or online, I often switch back and forth between both, even mid-sentence. The difficult part is when I can't find the right word in either language, and I'll be trying to find it while using the other language or describing in awkward ways what I'm looking for.

-      Does it affect you when you’re in a group where both languages are being spoken?

Only if two people talk to me at the same time in two different languages or when I'm getting really tired and don't know what I'm doing anyway. Though… I might answer in the 'wrong' language or stumble through trying to translate for others. I basically suck at direct translation.

-      Do you ever speak the ‘wrong’ language to someone?

Yes! I do. I've mentioned a little about that in the last question, when there's a group of both Dutch and English people involved, I might answer a question in the wrong language. I also often blurt out little English phrases that I like in the middle of a Dutch conversation, and consequently feel really bad when they look at me like I’m from Mars. Though, I'm always secretly pleased when the person I'm talking to understands and just goes on as if I hadn't just switched languages on them. I think I drive my poor mother in law nuts with doing that, even if I've known for roughly twenty-five years that she doesn't understand English. But it's so ingrained in who I am now, that I can't seem to stop myself.

-      Would you translate yourself from one language into the other or ask someone else (professional) to do it?

I've talked about this subject with other authors from time to time, like Zahra Owens, whose native tongue is Flemish. I could and would never translate my own work. And it only has partly to do with sucking at direct translation. If I tried to translate my own works, I'd end up with two completely different books. Because once I'd start 'fixing' a sentence here and a sentence there to make the language flow better, I'd end up editing and thus changing my work instead of translating it.

-      If size of (potential) market wasn’t an issue what language would you be writing in?

English? Did you even need to ask? :p

Don't get me wrong. I love the Dutch language. It can be a very beautiful language and it has words and sayings that I wish I could use in English, but they just don't translate into anything English readers would understand. Still… I like the flow of English better when I'm writing. I feel there is more nuance in the language, more choice of words to describe the feelings I'm reaching for when I'm writing.

And that brings me back to my claim that I suck at direct translation. Anyone could ask me simple words to translate and I'd know them. But… they never do. People always ask me words that have more than one meaning, but never give me a context in which they wish to use that word.

The same goes for my writing. I can often be caught writing Dutch words into my first drafts, but I'm never looking for a direct translation, I'm looking for the feeling I associate with that word. Which also makes me guilty of doing what I complain about above. My husband is probably really sick of me asking for a word and always telling him that it's not what I'm looking for without explaining what it is I'm looking for. Weird thing is that his 'wrong' answers almost always help me find the word I am looking for.

Blaine's latest work:


From supernatural tales of intrigue to a curious modern romance, a thoroughly British relationship and a classic fairytale all twisted up, Bedtime Stories is a collection of short stories designed to be read one at a time, at bedtime. Let us wish you goodnight with gay romances that are sure to leave you ready for a night of sweet, lingering dreams.

Seven stories, one for each night, written by Tia Fielding, Liam Livings, Anna Martin, Kit Mullender, MJ O’Shea, B Snow, and Blaine D. Arden

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