Best selling author Sigríður Jóhanna Valdimarsdóttir, better known by her pseudonym Erica Pike, has sold the rights to some of her work to a French publisher. The first book is scheduled to come out in France in November
“This was a complete surprise. At first I wasn’t sure what to think. But now that I know more about the company and am getting used to the idea, I’m very excited,” says Sigríður Jóhanna Valdimarsdóttir, when asked how she feels about having sold the rights to the French romance publisher Juno, which publishes in France many of the biggest names in the field, such as William Maltese, Lisa Worral, Angel Martinez, Sedonia Guillon and Ethan Day (who organizes the annual Gay Romance Literature Retreat).
Juno bought rights to Sigríður’s College Fun and Gays series, which is a series of short stories that take place in a college in Philadelphia. She says that there are different themes in each book in regard to being gay in the US. “One is about a student who’s dealing with past bullying while he was in high school,” explains Sigríður. “Another about a teacher who was ostracized for being gay, one about internal homophobia, etc. Those are serious topics, but I inject humor to make it an easier read.”
The stories were originally published by a new publisher called No Boundaries Press, but it went belly up so Sigríður decided to try her hand at self-publishing. “It was worth it and I will most likely self-publish my short stories and leave the novel-length ones for traditional publishers.”
But how did it come about that a French publishing company is buying the rights to your novels? “The employee who contacted me said that one of her friends pointed me out,” says Sigríður with a humble tone in her voice. “She read some of my work and said that she loved it. She contacted me shortly after about buying the rights.”
“I’m not nervous about these publications … But it will be interesting to see if French readers experience the stories differently than American readers.”
Is there a large market for romances in France? “Juno says that they have a large following of readers, so apparently there is a large market for it. I really had no idea. I prefer to read in English and sort of assumed other people preferred that as well. It was short-sighted of me to think so, especially since I have friends who only ever read books in Icelandic.”
According to Sigríður the majority of romance readers has and always will be women, so she assumes that most of the French readers are also women. However, she adds that there are also men who read romances and readership among men seems to be increasing with the increase in gay romance publishing. “The ones I’ve talked to think it’s wonderful to be able to read
romances about men, who are like them and who get a happy ending. They grew up reading gay romances in the 70’s and 80’s where one or more of the main characters would end up dead or one of the men would wind-up with a woman instead. There were some books that had happier endings, but they were few and far between.
That’s a thing of the past now and there are thousands of books in many genres with a happy male-male relationship ending.”
Going back to your own novels, when will they be published in France? “Juno is going to a book fair in November and they decided to have one special unreleased book for attendees to buy in print. They chose one of my stories to be that book.
After the book fair, there will be an official release and everyone else can buy a copy online. The other stories will follow after.”
Are you nervous about it? “No, I’m not nervous about these publications. Most of these stories were first published in 2012 and they already have hundreds of reviews.
But it will be interesting to see if French readers experience the stories differently than American readers. Now if these were new books then I’d be more anxious. You’re always anxious to know how people will receive your newest baby.”
Sigríður says that Juno also wants to publish her novels, but those are still with an American publisher and she’s waiting to get her rights back before she republishes them. “I get the rights
back for two of them early next year and the third the year after. Once I’ve republished them, I’ll contact Juno to see if they’re still interested in buying the rights for the French market.”
Apart from being published for the first time in France, Sigríður is currently editing a post-apocalyptic young adult LGBTQ+ story, she wrote about two high school boys who are stuck in a mall during a zombie breakout. She’s also working on a series of short stories that take place in Iceland and have to do with the supernatural. But are any of her stories scheduled to be published in Iceland?
“I’ll admit that I kind of cringe at the thought of having my books published in Icelandic, simply because I’m not sure romances translate that well in Icelandic. In my experience, Icelanders don’t express themselves the same when it comes to love, so some of the dialogue might read funny. Although my books aren’t super corny and gushing with love language, I still think it’d be weird to read it.
However, if someone is interested in seeing how it’d turn out, I’m only an email away. After all, there are a lot of hetero romance stories that have been translated to Icelandic, so it might work.”