German version of Sleight of Hand

The last of the polishing and preparation appears to be complete, and I will release the German translation of Die verborgene Hand on the 18th.

Cover image

Many thanks to Peter, Moritz and Haike for all their efforts.

I’ll make another posting on the day, and then please, please, all my German readers who’ve enjoyed it in English, please tell your friends!

Inevitably, some things change slightly between languages; humor and poetry especially.

As an example, Amber makes a sarcastic joke about Bian being the ‘spotter’ when she’s first captured by Skylur and Diana, making reference of course to Bian’s leopard tattoos. That doesn’t work in German.

Poetry? Well, Diana quotes an Athanate lamentation when she and Bian meet Amber and Mykayla at the golf club.
The English goes :

This is the gift and the sorrow of the Athanate; to see your loves pass before you like the days of summer while your heart still beats. To keep your vigil in the shadows and rise again with every sun.”

And the German :

„Dies ist die Gabe und das Leid der Athanate; unsere Geliebten schwinden zu sehen, wie die Tage des Sommers, während dein Herz noch schlägt. Um im Schatten der Nacht über sie zu wachen und doch mit jedem Sonnenaufgang aufzustehen.“

Now, I have no feel for how that sounds in German! This is very unsettling. 🙂

What else? Going back through the English text and thinking about it, there were two minor adjustments are now in the German version and which I will make in the English published version.

The first dates back to my very first draft, when Chapter 1 was the current Chapter 2 – the classic PI sitting in her office and the client comes in. Lauren persuaded me to open with a bang, and so you got the scene at the truck depot with lots of action. That’s all fine. But a little later, in Chapter 4, Amber is looking at the photos on her desk. Originally, I mentioned Tara’s little memorial tablet as well. I was persuaded to take this out to keep the pace of the early chapters going. I didn’t want to do this, because the next mention of the tablet is Chapter 29, and it makes it seem like something I invented later. Anyway, the paragraph is back in, in Chapter 4, and that section now reads:

It was my proudest day.
The third I didn’t pick up. It wasn’t actually a photo. It was a slim rectangle of jet black granite the size of a desktop
photo, polished to a sheen, with gold letters in the bottom right hand corner saying simply, Tara Farrell. This one was for
reflection rather than inspiration.
If Dad and Top had something to say to me, I knew it would be: ‘If you’ve got a job to do, girl, get out and do it.’

The other change was to do with a scene that I’ve had a lot of feedback on – the aftermath of Onebrow’s attack on Amber and Jen at Silver Hills. Jen’s never had people coming at her with guns and threats before. Amber comforts Jen with a hug. No one had a problem with that. Jen starts praising Amber, which embarasses Amber, and Amber responds by quietening Jen with a finger on Jen’s lips. Ooooh. For one small gesture that sure got a lot of criticism. Not least from my sister, who’s one of my principle beta readers. “I’d bloody slap her” was the comment 🙂

Reviewers have also highlighted it as an ‘out-of-character’ moment, and an example of where I’ve failed in writing a female lead.

Enough already. I knew this was a very intimate gesture and out of character for Amber in the relationship with her client at that time. Which was why I had Amber immediately turn away, embarrassed by the unconscious liberty she’d taken. But all I said was she was embarrassed, and clearly I needed to emphasize it a bit more. So I’ve added “What the hell was I thinking?” in both German and English versions.

Why did this come up now and what’s going on?


Obviously, if you’ve kept up with the books, you now know that Jen is Amber’s kin. However, there needs to be a transition from the initial client-PI relationship to a more intimate one. Previous scenes showed that the relationship had quickly become familiar. This scene is the first where I’m raising a flag that it will be more than just familiar, even though Amber isn’t consciously aware of it yet. And the reason this came up now is that, in German, the word ‘you’ translates two ways – the formal ‘Sie’ and the informal ‘du’. Native German speakers sense when they can change from Sie to du in a relationship. My understanding is that, in this type of business relationship, it would usually be the client who initiates the change. So, I used this scene for Amber to slip into ‘du’ mode and further embarrass herself. Not that Jen minds at all, but Amber doesn’t know that yet. 🙂

I’ll see how sales go before I proceed with translating the rest of the series, but I have a reasonable hope, given German sales of over 1000 of just SoH alone in English, that the German version should do better!

Any German readers with advice about where and how to market?





About Mark Henwick

I was born in Africa and left out in the sun too often. An early interest in philosophy and psychology was adequately exorcised by tending bars. And while trying to enroll in a class to read Science Fiction full time, I ended up taking an engineering degree which splendidly qualified me to move into marketing. That in turn spawned a late onset career in creative writing. When not working, I get high by the slightly less conventional means of a small light aircraft. My first books are available on Amazon at

5 responses to “German version of Sleight of Hand”

  1. Daniel Dobbelstein says :

    I personally think that the title would be better translated as “Die verdeckte Hand” which has a rather similar meaning, though goes better with the cardgame reference from the english title.
    The translated piece of the athanate saying sounds good to me.

    Also in Germany, someone hired by someone would always adress them as “Sie” usually even if the “Du” is being offered. And socially, it HAS to be offered by the hiring party. In most cases, in germany when someone wants to change form of adress from “Sie” to “Du”, they would offer the other party, to adress them by firstname, which in Germany is only done, when you allow someone to adress you in the more intimate form.
    In general, the older person, with higher social standing/ status, has to initiate the change, if someone younger, employed or hired, changes the status by themselves, it would be very much frowned upon, could even lead to a breakdown in the working relationship.
    In germany we do not adress people by firstnames, like many Americans do, unless we are rather close to each other, and there is a friendship or outside work relationship between people.
    But i do believe german readers will be very relaxed on it, because most of us know that the book plays in the US, and that customs there differ from Germany.

    A client, hiring someone, would never, ever tell the hiring to adress them by firstname as Jen does with Amber, right at the start of their working relationship.

    Hope that helps a little

    • Mark Henwick says :

      Thank you Daniel. I have a week to go before the book’s actually published, so there’s time. I have Alfred on the FB page also saying that verborgene gets away from card playing references. It’s extremely difficult for me to assess this – dictionaries don’t communicate the flavor.
      Yes, the ‘auf du’ I’ve used is somewhat artificial for German relationships. As you say, I think it will be okay for the books based in Denver. I am, however, planning to do a spin-off based in Germany and told from the point of view of werewolves. If I get into that, I’ll need lots of help!!!

  2. Daniel Dobbelstein says :

    Well i will gladly help as much as i can. I know we germans are sometimes strange to you english speaking folks, wether they are american or british.

    I have many relations with people in the US, so i know that its not that unusual there, to be offered to adress someone on first name basis, even when you do not know them that well. Especially in the southern US.
    “Verdeckte” would most likely get translated by a dictionary as “covered” but in germany in relation to cardgames, we say “verdeckt” when someone hides his cards, or a card is on the table with the picture down. I think that goes better with the card games.
    Funnily the you, that is being used in english, derives from the old term of Thou. And would need to be strictly translated as the german “Sie”
    the intimate term in shakespear english was thee, or such i’ve been told at least in english classes.

    If you need help with german stuff, forms of adress or such, please do not hesitate and send me an email, that goes for forms of adress, social conventions or anything.

    Awesome books, i think i am reading them the 6th time right now.

  3. Daniel Dobbelstein says :

    This is the gift and the sorrow of the Athanate; to see your loves pass before you like the days of summer while your heart still beats. To keep your vigil in the shadows and rise again with every sun.”

    my translation for it would be:

    “Dies ist das Geschenk und Leid der Athanate, deine Geliebten scheiden zu sehen, wie die Jahreszeiten, während Dein Herz weiterschlägt. Im Schatten Wache zu halten und mit jedem neuen Sonnenaufgang erneut aufzustehen (oder: mit jedem Tagesanbruch wieder aufzuerstehen)

    • Mark Henwick says :

      Thank you Daniel, I’m going to have to run a poll and have German speakers vote on the title and the poetry!

      You’re right about the ‘thee’ and ‘thou’. Strange that the English chose the formal version and then became so informal with it. Or perhaps typically British!

      Delighted to hear you’e still enjoying re-reading.

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