We often take for granted the role language plays in communicating our favourite stories. And here in the west, there exists an unspoken expectation to be able to consume those favourite stories in English. The necessity and importance of translation is a given.

Writers producing work in English but for whom English is their second language are in a unique position, and we are lucky to be able to host two of them in this episode. Jelena Dunato and Ioanna Papadopoulou each bring their native folklore and mythology to their debut novels. But how much of this cultural context is lost through using another culture’s language – English – to express it? And conversely, what benefits does writing in English bring, both practically and from a speculative fiction perspective?

Jelena Dunato is an art historian, curator, speculative fiction writer and lover of all things ancient. She grew up in Croatia on a steady diet of adventure novels and then wandered the world for a decade, building a career in the arts. Jelena’s stories have been published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, The DarkFuture SF and Mermaids Monthly, among others. She is a member of SFWA and Codex.

Jelena lives on an island in the Adriatic with her husband, daughter and cat. Her debut novel, Dark Woods, Deep Water is out now from Ghost Orchid Press.

Ioanna Papadopoulou is a Greek by descent and Scottish by residence author. Other than writing, she is passionate about art history and museology. She has been published at Hexagon Magazine, Idle Ink, Piker Press and The Future Fire.

Ioanna’s novel, Winter Harvest, will be published by Ghost Orchid Press in November 2023.