I’ve mentioned scattered information here and there but I think this is the first time completely going over everything about my translation history. It all started when I first got into Asian novels through the Korean novels, Legendary Moonlight’s Sculptor and Ark.
How I Got into Asian Translated Novels
As someone new to this scene, they were such breaths of fresh air compared to the Western books I was used to reading. I was instantly hooked and explored some of the other translated novels at that time, but there were very few. It was a time with few translated novels and no Noveldupates to organize everything in one easy spot to find. I followed along with the translations until Japtem, the translators of Ark stopped releasing as regularly.
Eventually, months went by without a new chapter update and I decided to do what I could to try and finish reading Ark. This was how I got started in translating.
How I Started Translating
My initial thoughts were, ‘Am I really going to try and do this? I have some knowledge of Korean from when I studied it for several years in university but it has been several years since I graduated and I forgot a lot.’ Eventually, I decided to do a mixture of machine translating and relying on my previous knowledge. Then what was the best way to do it? I googled around and eventually stumbled upon a CAT tool i.e. Computer Assisted Translation tool (I will be doing a few write-up about what CAT tools are and how they can assist with translations).
It was only once I found the appropriate CAT tool that I really got stuck into trying. I quietly translated some chapters for a month or two just to see if it was possible. Then after seeing how many chapters I had done, I decided to share it with the other readers of Ark who were waiting. I created a free wordpress blog called arkmachinetranslations, released my first chapter in December 2014 and voila! That was the start of my translating journey.
Rise in Translations and Growth of the Community
Around the same time, Ren of Wuxiaworld started releasing his translations of Coiling Dragon. It became hugely popular and there was the rise in other Chinese translated novels, leading to a large growth in new translations and the start of the novel translation community. I was following along with some novels but I was still off in my own corner with Ark. I used translating to refresh my Korean knowledge and started studying again, leading to less and eventually none (apart from dictionaries) using of machine translations. Ark grew in popularity and due to some translation problems with Legendary Moonlight Sculptor, I picked up translating it as well. This led to a huge surge in popularity for my website and made my name as a translator more well-known. This led to me getting an invitation to join a huge translation website at the time, Gravity Tales. Gravity Tales mainly specialized in Chinese novels but were expanding into Korean at the time. I was flattered and did join but with new novels. Ark and Legendary Moonlight Sculptor were still kept on my wordpress site.
Joining Gravity Tales, Wuxiaworld and Webnovels
During my time at Gravity, I translated the novels Dungeon Hunter and Dimensional Sovereign. It was also during that time that all the turmoil with licensing and Qidian/Webnovels started happening. I won’t go into the drama because it is way too long. However, a combination of things led to me eventually moving from novels to Wuxiaworld, arguably one of the largest translating websites.
I translated a fair few novels on Wuxiaworld, although some have been removed due to licensing agreements not being reached. I am still translating novels on Wuxiaworld and this time they are officially licensed novels. The one I am probably most famous for is Overgeared, which is consistently first on Wuxiaworld’s weekly popular list.
During this time, I also translated Omniscient Reader’s Viewpoint, a novel I’m sure many of you will know. It shifted between quite a few sites as there were attempts to get the licensing from multiple different people. Eventually, Webnovels ended up with the license and I ended up translating it on their site for a bit. I eventually quit due to various reasons and a new translator took it over.
My BL Translating Journey
Now, what I’m sure a lot of you are more interested in. How did I get into machine translating danmei i.e. Chinese BL novels. I had always read BL but it was mainly fanfiction and Western M/M novels. The Korean BL novels I had come across didn’t interest me at all when I tried them. Then to my surprise, someone recommended that I try the Legendary Master’s Wife, one of the earliest translated danmei. It isn’t the best looking back now, but at that time, I was addicted. I followed along with every chapter release and eventually fell down the rabbit hole of danmei recommendations/spoilers on Novelupdates forums.
So the novel that really raised my interest in attempting to machine translate danmei? Superstar Aspirations by Mo Chen Huan. I read all the spoilers and eventually, machine translated the novel itself. I loved it after I completely finished it. Unfortunately, by that time, the novel had been picked up by an excellent translator and I put the idea of translating on the backburner. I looked for new novels to read and found Winter’s Reading List. The one I was instantly attracted to was I’m Not Shouldering this Blame and the idea of translating once again rose. As you can see, I did pick it up and did a few chapters as a test before deciding it wasn’t right for me as a starter novel to translate.
After that, I fell into the pit of reading all of Mo Chen Huan’s novels and also fell in love with Rebirth of a Supermodel. Our powerful, take-no-nonsense MC caught my heart and I couldn’t resist. This was at the start of 2018 and everything progressed from there.
Once I fell into the pit of danmei, I couldn’t stop. I translated several novels such as Game Loading and the Earth is Online. At the same time, I was finding all sorts of new genres from danmei that I never imagined before. Unlimited flow? Quick transmigration? I had never imagined such a thing before based on what I had previously read.
As the novel translation community was expanding, more readers and translators were becoming interested in danmei with novels like quickly Wear the Face of the Devil causing a large surge in interest. Of course, this also led to the growth of danmei translating websites like Chrysanthemum Garden. I watched as CG grew from a small site to one of the largest websites of translated/original BL content. I joined their discord and interacted with the community there.
Eventually, I became tired of the limitations of my free wordpress website which required me to manually do the previous/next chapter buttons and the table of contents and requested if I could join CG. You can all see the result now. I am still translating several novels on CG.
So What Now?
Things have come full circle and I am back to releasing chapters on my website. I am trying to put more effort into it. It is no longer a free wordpress and I have found a lot of plugins to make my life easier. In addition, I am still translating licensed Korean novels on Wuxiaworld and danmei on CG. Life is busy with work and translating but I love it! I never want to stop.
What is your story? How did you get into reading translated novels? Be sure to let me know in the comments.
List of all the Novels I Have Translated
If you click on the link above, you can find a list of all the novels I have translated, whether they are Korean or Chinese, dropped or completed. They will all be there as long as I have translated even one chapter of them.
Hi Rainbow – it’s so fascinating hearing your story. You’re one of my favourite translators because you impeccably balance speed and quality and it honestly still amazes me that you somehow balance translating and work – I honestly feel like your release schedule is full time work in itself.
Like you I’d been reading MM Romance (so Western BL) and fanfic for yearssss before asian web novels were even on the radar in the Western online communities. I think I discovered Jap novels first but legendary moonlight sculptor was also one of my first!! And i think i stumbled upon cnovels when the first wave of chinese manga based on those huge wuxia novels starting popping up. But as I said I’d read some jap and korean light novels here and there. So i really discovered cnovels later and fell in loovee.
It’s been fascinating I think to see the different kind of ideas and cultural quirks come through in reading Web novels. The idea of transmigration and unlimited flow was sooo fresh and revolutionary at the very beginning. Also the values of each culture come through so strongly and it’s interesting to kind of slowly get a feel on different cultures’ idea of love, homosexuality, nationalism, and gender. Sometimes for better and sometimes for worse 🤣.
My history….hmm….before this I am a reader solely for action and mystery genre & anime lover. I never thought about BL novel and not even realize about the existence of translation novel. Everything change during my university time. My best friend introduce (force) me to watch Sekaiichi Hatsukoi & Junjou Romantica. Honestly speaking, first time I am watching the scene (kissing etc) i am so shocked for almost 2 weeks. Haha…. its the moment the door to the world open for me. After that I become curious n without realize collecting all anime with (BL/Yaoi) tags. Then, suddently I am a part of Fujoshi (with my best friend of course).
There is limit for BL anime in website. I don’t know why I cannot stop reading BL novel now. For me now, BL genre + action story really exciting me than other normal novel. So, I will summarize everything….. once I hook with your translation novel ‘The Earth is Online’ in your wordpress before, I try to search your other projects and it bring me to CG. I read most of your translation work & i love it so much. It really suit my taste. Now, I really hook with Card Room. Thanks Rainbow Turtle/Rainbow mushroom for translating all the interesting books. I am not able to read Mandarin n I think I will give up to learn once I see the characters. (@[email protected])
Hmm my first encounter with bl was when I was browsing YouTube and saw a video of hyakujitsu no bara. I clicked on it since it was anime and was shocked to realize that anime about m/m existed which caused me to search more and more bl. I found junjou romantica and sekaiichi hatsukoi along with others. Yt was less strict so a lot of explicit content was posted such as hey class president and kirepapa which further led me to a path of no return.
Bl was now a part of my anime genres. Then I found out quotev (such a nostalgic site, it used to be brimming with life) has several bls like anime character x male oc/ male reader/ male self insert. I only read original bl stories from there and it was all western. I went through quotev and fan fiction.net and stayed there for a long time until I finally relented to join wattpad after using the online version for so long.
There I found so many stolen translations of bl but the past me didnt know. I found rehabilitation of villain iirc and fell into danmei. Picked up by the protagonist of a tormented mc novel and its actually not easy being a supporting male lead(?). Some of them stopped updating until I saw a comment saying I can find them at the original site which led me to realize that they were stolen which was why for offline reading was always on top.
I found legendary masters wife and then after some shuffling here and there found earth is online and rebirth of a supermodel. Two of my all time I have reread it so many times favorite novels. Then I found CCG. I stayed there waiting for updates and i always make sure to keep one tab open for it.
And now I rely on novel updates to keep track of other novels.
Thank you for sharing your story! I wont talk much but let’s say I remember these times.
First the Manga/Anime that you did not want to wait for in the translated version… then the actual Japanese, Chinese and Korean movies that would never come out in my country…
And then… A good friend of mine introduced to me – Coiling dragon. Yep yep. One of the best things in my life haha.
I went the full journey with coiling dragon… oof that was years and years ago. I feel old xD
I also know you from reading Ark and Moonlight sculptor times. Good ol times they were.
As for the BL, I joined in on this fun pretty late, long time I did pretty well by reading manga (just saying, Yoneda Kou is one of the best authors ), I even think that I started with LMW, but at that time it was only at chapter 400+ so i got distracted until way later :p
To my shame I actually dont remember which BL I read first, because I devour books way too quickly, but I think my first novel I read on CG was “Stone Age Husband Raising Journal” because i was on a trip into any Stone Age novels from reading “Chronicles of Primordial wars” .. There are countless others.
I’m not human and HTI are the fave novels I read so far that were translated by you… then again I havent read all of them :p My current favourite is VCRMM. Love the settings with camping the NPC Boss for a while and then the boss planning to get “even” cough cough.
… Last but not least “The earth is online has been on my to -do list for ages, so I guess I will start on that after I finished the some of the current ones I’m reading~
With that said, stay healthy and happy!