Thursday, 4 September 2014

Linguistically Challenged Part Six: Aleksandr Voinov

EPIC Award winner and Lambda Award finalist Aleksandr Voinov is an emigrant German author living near London, where he until recently worked as an editor in financial services. His genres range from science fiction and fantasy to thriller, historical, contemporary, thriller, and erotica. His books were/are published by Random House Germany, Samhain Publishing, Riptide Publishing and others.

If he isn’t writing, he studies sports massage, explores historical sites, and meets other writers. He single-handedly sustains three London bookstores with his ever-changing research projects. His current interests include special forces operations during World War II, the history of chess, European magical traditions, and how to destroy the world and plunge it into a nuclear winter without having the benefit of nuclear weapons.

Visit Aleksandr’s website at, his blog at, and follow him on Twitter, where he tweets as @aleksandrvoinov.

     The Questions:

-        What language do you speak most of the time?

English. I really only speak German when talking to my German family these days, or when I a fellow German expat starts a conversation in the language.

-        What language do you think in?

English. I think the switch happened after about two years in the UK. That said, I’d been living with my English partner for a year before that, so things were starting to get muddled even then.

-        What language do you dream in?


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

Mostly English, because “f*cking hell/shit” just isn’t the same in German. German creeps in at times when there’s no equivalent English translation, or when I translate a German turn of phrase into English, and my editor, for example, remarks on how “original” that phrase is—when in German, it’s a well-worn cliché.

-        What language are you most comfortable in?

English. My vocabulary in German is narrowing, and I think I have a hint of an English accent when I speak. Mostly, though, I stutter and stammer looking for the right word when I speak German, which feels unwieldy and unnatural. I don’t like those pauses or that mental translation.

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

I find it fairly difficult—I just want to communicate, and the language shouldn’t get in the way. And getting self-conscious about my usage is part of getting in the way. I constantly check with myself if I’m saying things right or how I sound. Much less of that in English, where it’s clear I’m a foreigner so I get cut some slack.

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

Least favourite thing. For some reason, German still overrides English – I might be talking to somebody in English and when somebody speaks German, it overrides everything else and focuses my attention that way. I find it near impossible to speak English when I hear a simultaneous German conversation going on.

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

Yes. I’ve translated a menu and ended up explaining the food to my American friend in German and order from the German waiter in English. Well, I call it stand-up comedy. But yeah, having to mentally check which language I’m speaking in mixed company is just one of those frustrating things that get in the way.

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

I prefer to have somebody else do it—less second-guessing, less struggling for the right word. For them, German is natural. That said, I’m currently translation a German story into English, and that’s comparatively easier, since English is natural for me now, but I still understand German, obviously.

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

English. Germany is way behind in terms of e-books and queer fiction, so I prefer to be part of the international writing and ebook community, because that’s where new developments happen, and that’s where my friends are. I miss Germany and Germans sometimes, but I’m a proper expat now. I can’t imagine to ever switch back.

That said, it’s fun to have Germans in my stories and play with stereotypes and clichés, because I can see Germans and Germany both from the inside and outside. I really did enjoy putting my British characters into Germany in Return on Investment, and the German lawyer Carsten is one of my favourite side characters.

Aleksandr’s latest release

Martin David, an eager but inexperienced financial analyst, is the newest member of the investment team at Skeiron Capital Partners in London. His boss is an avowed financial genius, but he’s also overbearing and intense. Despite his erratic behaviour, Martin can’t help being drawn to him both professionally and personally.

Too bad his boss doesn’t seem to feel the same. In a firm where pedigree and connections mean far more than Martin’s newly-minted business degree, Martin feels desperately inadequate—at least until he meets the enigmatic investment manager Alec Berger, who promises to help Martin establish himself in the financial community. Martin is so charmed by Alec’s sophistication and wit that he gives him data that should have stayed confidential.

Then the financial crisis hits. Banks burn, companies teeter on the brink, and Skeiron’s survival is at stake. Martin is pushed into the middle of the fight for Skeiron—against both the tanking economy and a ruthless enemy who’s stepped out of the shadows to collect the spoils.

Buy links:

Amazon US Kindle:
Amazon US Paperback:
Amazon UK Kindle:
Amazon UK Paperback:

No comments:

Post a Comment