Cathy Hirano – translator of the “Mirror Sword and Shadow Prince, the second volume in Noriko Ogiwara’s Tales of the Magatama series, published by VIZ Media’s Haikasoru imprint”, is interviewed by Alexander O. Smith over at the Tokyo Translators Group site.
After graduating from ICU, I reviewed English YA books for possible Japanese publication and occasionally did J-E picture book translations as PR materials. This was a side job for Kayoko Yoneda, a friend from ICU and an editor at Fukutake Shoten. When the first Magatama book Sorairo magatama (English title: Dragon Sword and Wind Child) came out in 1988, Kayoko asked me to review it and write a summary. Farrar, Straus & Giroux read this and asked for a sample translation and then for the whole thing. It was my very first literature translation and it was very hard! There being no Internet at the time, I never heard how it fared; only that it went out of print. Years later, I was contacted by Masumi Washington at VIZ Media. She told me VIZ wanted to publish a retranslation as well as the second book in the series and asked if I would be willing to take on the task. Apparently,Dragon Sword and Wind Child, though long out of print, had acquired a solid fan following, demonstrated by the fact that the majority of library copies had been stolen and used books were listed at several hundred dollars on Amazon. It even had its own fan site developed by a teenager who loved the book and was sad it went out of print. She had the whole book typed and put online so that people could read it! You know, most publishers would shy away from a book that had already been published once and failed to survive. So I am extremely grateful to VIZ for recognizing the book’s value and for giving it a second chance and to the DSWC fans for keeping the flame alive. The knowledge that people were waiting to read Mirror Sword is what kept me going during some pretty rough patches. Readers have power!!! – read the full interview.