A new light novel series released its first volume in English recently, titled Why Shouldn’t a Detestable Demon Lord Fall in Love?! — courtesy of Sol Press. I was fortunate enough to get the chance to interview Adam Haffen, the editor of this book! So without further ado, let’s start with an introduction and then dive into the questions, which will hopefully give you all a better idea of how light novels are prepared for their releases in English.
Adam: My name is Adam and I’m the editor-in-chief and publishing manager at Sol Press. As an editor, my job is to take our translations and polish them up. More than just fixing errors, I get to rearrange, reword, and sometimes even rewrite lines in order to make the text sound natural and pleasing. I also became the publishing manager just in time for our release of Why Shouldn’t a Detestable Demon Lord Fall in Love?! It’s my job to handle everything related to publishing our books; creating files to send to distributors and our printer, sending said files to the people they need to be sent to, I take care of it all. I’m hoping that I can use my new role to make our releases the best they can be.
Cho: How would you describe the role of an editor in the translation and publication of a light novel? Do you work closely with other Sol Press team members? Or the original author?
Adam: If you ask me, editors are the ones who make light novels enjoyable to read. Translations can be… stiff without proper editing, which is where I come in. I find and correct errors, but I also rework the text so that things flow smoothly, characters have consistent voices, and so on. I’m fortunate enough that Sol Press lets me work incredibly closely with the entire localization team, from the project manager and translator all the way down to the typesetter and QA team. We have a direct line of communication open 24/7 that allows anyone to discuss anything relating to a project, from asking for help with getting a line just right to making sure all the images look great. I personally go to my team members just about every day with questions, be they questions about why a line was translated a certain way, if a change I’m making could use touching up, and more. Being able to communicate with the original author is much more difficult and is, unfortunately, not something I’ve gotten to do just yet, but I don’t think it’s impossible.
Cho: What is the typical day of a light novel editor like? How similar would you say it is to other editing jobs?
Adam: Light novel editing is all about flow. For me, I get to take the translation I’m sent and, using a word processor, make it read like a real book. I’m in charge of things like formatting, which gives me a lot of freedom to make things perfect. Light novels are also far different than visual novels or manga, with the most prominent difference being that freedom. Whereas visual novels and manga are heavily line-based (though both come with their own sets of challenges not present in light novel editing), light novels are paragraph- and even section-based. This makes for a much more labor-intensive workday, but it lets me get the book to read exactly how I want it to read.
Cho: How does Why Shouldn’t a Detestable Demon Lord Fall in Love? volume 1 compare to other projects you have worked on? Did Detestable Demon Lord present any unique challenges?
Adam: I found Detestable Demon Lord to be one of the more unique and fun projects I’ve gotten to work on. It’s very lighthearted and cutesy, but the characters are so endearing and never failed to make me smile. That said, the characters also presented the biggest challenge for me. Two characters in particular, Marie and Myuke, are three and twelve years old respectively. Having to get their lines, especially the larger and more serious ones, to serve their purpose while making them sound like what a child of that age would sound like stumped me more often than not. Fortunately, I have a nephew not much older than Marie and some cousins around Myuke’s age to use as inspiration for them. I’m very close with my family, so I get to interact with kids about Marie’s and Myuke’s ages a fair bit, so I hope using what I’ve seen from my family to help with their lines paid off.
Cho: How would you describe Nekomata Nuko’s writing style? Any particular writing quirks that stood out to you?
Adam: Nekomata Nuko has a rather straightforward writing style. They’re not much of one to use a lot of literary devices, and they can be almost too straightforward at times, but they’re able to tell an entertaining, adorable story nonetheless. They do have this very odd quirk with the way they write numbers, though. Instead of writing them “normally,” so to speak, they like to write them out one digit at a time. To give an example, the character Anima is said to be 130 years old, but rather than using the standard kanji for 130 (百三十), they write it as “one three zero” (一三〇). I have absolutely no idea why this is, but they do this with every number they write and it’s just baffling to me.
Cho: In recent years, there have been several light novel series about demon lords (or other dark overlords) who are portrayed sympathetically. What do you think makes this premise appealing to readers? And in what ways might Detestable Demon Lord stand out from the crowd?
Adam: What gets me about these sympathetic demon lord stories, and what I think gets a lot of other people about them, is that it’s all about a character who’s supposed to be evil and all-powerful turning into what is basically a giant mushball because they’ve found someone or something that makes them want to become a better person–or, demon lord. The idea that these hardened creatures who could take over the entire world can have much deeper, more profound emotions is a great way to set up a character for development. As for what sets Detestable Demon Lord apart from similar stories, I think the biggest thing is that this one isn’t quite like what I just described. In Detestable Demon Lord, you have a character that has no desire to be strong or evil or to take over the world, you have a character with a sad past who just wants to live a peaceful, happy life and finds the opportunity to do so. In addition, it’s about much more than just “boy meets girl” or anything like that; Detestable Demon Lord is about Anima’s entire family and their livelihoods as well. It doesn’t stop at just “I love this person and will use my power to protect them,” it extends into Anima wanting to be good to every member of his family and helping them grow, both as individuals and as a family. Seeing the entire family as they care for each other and grow is so nice, and I think it’s something no other story of this type offers.
A big thanks to Adam Haffen for taking the time to answer these questions!
If you have anything you’d like to ask or comment on, please do so. And don’t forget, Detestable Demon Lord volume 1 is now available to buy in various ebook formats, as well as in paperback off Amazon.