You asked, we answered! Thank you to everyone who submitted questions!
Without further ado, let's begin!
Q: If it’s not too personal, where are y’all from?
Thamalasca: I was born in Canada but I’ve been living in France since I was 8 years old.
Sam: I live in the Netherlands, but I was born in (Central) Asia.
Rina: I’m the lone North American, born and raised in Canada 🇨🇦
Q: How exactly do you guys do the work that y’all do? (Since I’m assuming you guys all live in different countries).
Rina: A private Discord server to communicate about what we're editing, a shared google drive with all our files and a few spreadsheets to keep things straight. We have the best and funniest conversations on our server and most of it isn’t ISTDF related hahaha
Thamalasca: To add to what Rina said. We also have a lot of laughs, we support each other and help out when we are in a bind. On a technical note, we proofread each other as well.
Sam: Sometimes we also edit chapters together through video-chatting. One of us will share their screen, and we go through the spreadsheet together in real time. And afterwards, we each proofread it. It’s time consuming, but a lot of fun!
Q: How long have each of you been fans of ISDTF?
Thamalasca: I discovered ISTDF when the manwha was at chapter 26. So about 2 years now.
Sam: A pretty long time, the first time I read the manhwa was at the end of summer in 2021.
Rina: For me it’s been about 14 months, I found the manhwa way later, binged the entire thing and quickly got obsessed with it. Before I knew it I was volunteering to help translate a Korean novel with zero experience. It all happened really fast, hahaha
Q: What made you guys decide to pick up the manhwa/novel and translate in the first place? Like has anything stuck out to you that made you guys want to?
Thamalasca: A mad impulse! LOL Actually, I discovered Novel Updates forum and went looking for spoilers on ISTDF. There, someone had posted the MTL for chapters 180 to 185 (The first kiss arc). The MTL was atrocious. On a whim, and because I was jobless and bored at the time, I decided to edit those chapters to make them more palatable…. Loved it and the reactions I got from the fans there. (The ISTDF community on NU is really friendly and nice!). And decided to continue editing the chapters. Along the way, Aiten, Sam and Rina sent me PM’s asking if they could join… The rest is history.
Sam: I was pretty active on the NovelUpdates forum dedicated to ISTDF spoilers, and one day Thamalasca sent me a message asking whether I had any novel chapters and if I wanted to exchange them since I referenced the novel a couple of times in the forum. I didn’t actually have any, I was only referencing the first few chapters of ISTDF another translating group had translated. But, I was desperate to know more about the story, so I made a Kakaopage account and started collecting the novel chapters with Thamalasca, and eventually, I tried editing the chapters too. It kind of happened naturally as I was collecting raws. And now we’re here!
Rina: As Thamalasca said, I found this group on the NovelUpdates spoiler forum. I really liked ISTDF because it was an interesting political story that had great slowburn tension between the two leads and I wanted to know what happened next. I liked how Tara was a uniquely active female lead and the story didn’t follow all the typical tropes of the otome isekai manhwa formula. The vibe on the spoiler forum was really friendly and discussion focused. I had recently moved cities and was missing a sense of community so when Thamalasca opened up the opportunity I decided to give it a try and haven’t regretted it since!
Q: Aside from our protagonists, who are your favourite characters in ISTDF?
Thamalasca: I have a soft spot for Walter, the calm and collected knight, devoted to Kyle. He is also one of the rare characters with darker skin and whitish hair. Also, his present to Tara on her birthday was to die for! Finally, the very slight nods that he might have a thing for Nick, who is his polar opposite, are too cute! I also admire Chloe, who is straight in her boots and a real ‘femme d’affaires’, as smart as Tara in her own way.
Sam: Nick. In a world full of intelligent people, being dense is brave. He’s honestly hilarious and his scenes never fail to make me smile. I also adore his friendship with Walter, they have great chemistry. And I think they should date. Other than that, I really like Allen Godfrey, the Emperor’s closest advisor. He’s kind of cute, but alas, we don’t see him that often :(
Rina: I have a weird love for some of the smaller characters, like Matilda, she’s such a cool old lady. She only shows up a few times but I would read an entire novel about her life story as a war doctor. I also like Duchess Helen, even if she’s a curmudgeonly old crone I admire her fortitude. Tara’s mom, Isabelle, is also one of my underrated faves. I love it when protagonists have good relationships with their mothers and Isabelle is so kind and classy to everyone even though people like Victoria treat her terribly. I think that’s an admirable kind of strength that often gets overlooked.
Q: I think you have been a lot less active than before, if I may ask so, why is that?
Thamalasca: Life! It can get in the way. Since we do this just for the pure pleasure of it on our time, sometimes that spare becomes scarce. Also, just wanting to take a break from it for a while. The editing process can be quite taxing mentally, and sometimes you just need to have your brain do something else to recharge…
Rina: A lot of it has to do with personal life, mental health and work-life balance. Unfortunately our translations take a backseat when personal matters get out of hand, sometimes one of us gets wildly busy or stressed for a while and the whole process slows down since we proofread one another’s work. We don’t typically keep a backlog of chapters like some translators do, we post a chapter when we finish it, so if we all get busy or tired because of the holiday season or a life event that affects our output a lot.
Also, I think at the start we were all riding a wave of productivity, we had more free time back then and over time we’ve had to pace ourselves a bit more to avoid burnout. Our quality has also improved over time, and more attention to detail makes each chapter take longer.
I’m definitely going to slow down my editing soon since I have a long overseas vacation planned in the near future ✈️!
Sam: What Rina and Thamalasca said, and for me personally it was also that I have rather ambitious study plans, and I started preparing for that last year, so I suddenly had a lot less free time and my brain was constantly fried from studying. Hopefully it’ll settle a bit in a few months and I can edit more often then.
Q: Also, what’s the hardest part about editing and publishing these chapters?
Thamalasca: Bad MTL. Sometimes it can really do your head in. The text is nearly unintelligible and you have to break the sentences word by word and then, hopefully, get enough meaning to formulate something coherent. And when you have a whole chapter like that, it can put you off and make the editing process quite the chore….
Rina: I agree with Thamalasca, the MTL can be killer! You need your whole brain to do it so if you’re tired, busy or short on time you just know it’s going to be tough. The worst is when there is an important section or word you get stuck on. Sometimes we need to get second opinions from one another on the really tough bits or spend forever searching for a way to identify a tough phrase. Also see our bonus extra post on our editing process!
Sam: All of the above, basically. Let’s just say there’s a reason we have a channel called ‘translation-hell’, haha.
Q: Apart from this, what are all your hobbies?
Thamalasca: I’m a playstation fan. I have a PS2, PS3, PS4 and now PS5 under my TV…. I play RPG’s, like Final Fantasy, The last of us, Uncharted, Kingdom Hearts to name but a few. At the moment, I’m deep into Genshin Impact. I also love crafting. I sew, knit, paint, do miniature dioramas and revamp furniture. I’m also an avid reader and I like to watch documentaries about various subjects.
Sam: I read a lot of (romance) webtoons and novels in my free time. Too many to keep up with, to be honest. I’ve probably forgotten what happened in half of them. I also had a Genshin Impact phase for the longest time, and I still play sometimes. Aside from that, I love skincare, and I listen to a lot of music, pretty much all day honestly.
Rina: I enjoy hiking (at least when there isn’t too much snow on the ground) and occasionally go on multi-day backpacking trips with friends. Outside of that I’m a homebody and a big reader of historical non-fiction books and fluffy and/or deeply angsty romance novels. I also love going down internet research rabbit holes and learning about obscure topics. The reason I include so many editor’s notes on my chapters is because I enjoy my obscure tangents a bit too much, hehe.
Q: Out of all the chapters you’ve ever edited, what’s your favourite so far (that you’ve worked on)?
Thamalasca: It would have to be my first: chapter 185 with the very hot first kiss. Just a soft spot for it, and quite a bit of nostalgia… seeing how far I’ve come and how much progress I’ve made since then.
Sam: I rather enjoyed editing the prologue and chapter 165!
Rina: I’m probably most proud of chapter 216, the one where Tara fights off John Hutt (like a badass). That was far away the most challenging chapter I’ve ever had to edit because of the complexity of the action and challenging MTL (I swear to god editing MTL’d action is the absolute WORST) finishing it felt like an accomplishment! But my new favourite is probably chapter 243 for reasons you’ll see shortly 😉.
Also what do you think are the MBTI’s of your favorite characters?
Thamalasca: Kyle is my absolute favourite character in the novel. He’s definitely an ENTJ-A. The Assertive Commander of course! Reading it you’ll see that it fits him to a T!
As for Tara, I think she’s ENFJ-A the Assertive Protagonist type. Someone more in tune with her feelings but also a leader in her own right.
As for me, I’m INFP-A. The Assertive Mediator type.
Rina: Oh boy, I’m going to be honest and say that I don’t even know what my own MBTI is. I did the test once like 8 years ago. Give me a minute…
I’m INFJ-T! However, I’m not enough of an MBTI expert to identify other characters *looks at Sam hopefully*
Sam: I have genuinely no idea
Will you look at publishing other stories? (If so can we suggest our favs?) Please tell us your favorite stories so we can read them.
Thamalasca: Before I think of editing other stories, I will finish this one! LOL. Also I’m REALLY hoping that Munirang will publish side stories for ISTDF. And, of course, I’ll have to edit those, if ever they are written. Editing the way and quality we do it is very time consuming. I’d rather have quality over quantity to be honest, so at this time, I won’t be editing other works than ISTDF. Now for my list of favourite stories…
I’m a huge Ilona Andrews fan, especially her Innkeeper and Hidden Legacy series. The Innkeeper actually exists in webtoon format. But I really prefer her novels.
I also very much like Mercedes Lackey. I’ve read almost all her works. Her Heralds of Valdemar, Dragon Jousters, and Oathbound series are frequent re-reads of mine with the Obsidian Mountain trilogy that she wrote with James Mallory. I recommend, if you want a good spin of fairy tales, ‘A kinda fairytale’ series from Cassandra Gannon.
I read so many manga and manwha as well as webtoons that the list is too long to put here. In my most recent reads I really enjoy : (these are the official translated titles) ‘For better or for worse, Villains are destined to die, Roxana and Kill the Villainess.
Sam: I’d love to edit another novel of Munirang after ISTDF honestly, whether that’s one that she has yet to write, or one of her earlier stories.
I think a lot of our readers are also avid webtoon readers and otome-isekai likers, so I assume a lot of you are already familiar with the popular and classic webtoons. To prevent my list from getting too long, here are a few lesser-known stories that I’m actively following at the moment, North x Northwest, Vengeance from a Saint Full of Wounds, Avoiding the Heavenly Emperor, Governess of a Tyrant, Who Knew Dragons Could Be This Cute, Baked by the Villainess, My Sweet Dark Hero and Go Away Romeo.
Rina: Same as Sam and Thamalasca I would be interested in editing another novel after we finish this one, either one of Munirang’s other works or something completely different (if we find something we like). But since ISTDF is 346 chapters long and we’re only about half way through (at best!) we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. But I wouldn't mind hearing everyone else's favourite series!
Like Thamalasca when it comes to non-Korean media I’m a huge fan of Ilona Andrews and her novels as well as sci-fi/fantasy romance authors like Jessie Mihalik and T.A.White (but seriously my favourite authors change every year).
I also read a whole stack of manhwa and manga. My latest favourites include The Villainess Lives Again, Concubine Walkthrough, The Spark in Your Eyes, For Better or Worse, Your Majesty Please Spare Me This Time!, Lies Become You and A Red Knight Seeks No Reward. With all that I ironically don’t have time to read too many K novels or J novels but have enjoyed some well translated series like Under the Oak Tree, Toshokan Sensou/Library Wars, Reminiscence Adonis, Roxana, and MTL’d versions of some of my webtoon faves.
Thank you all for tuning in and tell us what you think! Who is your favourite side character and do you think our poor attempt at MBTI is accurate?