I once participated in an online discussion of book dedications, and “Mom and Dad” were top of the list for most people. Also, English teachers and spouses.
Apologies to Mom, Dad, my sweetheart and the memory of Mr. Hamingson. I dedicated my book to Derek Black.
Derek loves books.
How much? In lieu of an engagement ring, he gave his fiancee his five favorite books, his most precious possessions, as a sign of his commitment. Their practical “can we live together?” discussions included his deal-breaker need for vast amounts of wall-space for open shelves.
Derek beta-read my manuscript as thoroughly as a copy-editor. He found every little thing that didn’t sound properly British from my British narrators (alas, that was before new scenes were added in editing, so don’t blame him for any errors in the finished book!). I have NEVER heard him swear even a little, and it cracked me up when he said, unselfconsciously and in full voice in the middle of a coffee shop, “This character wouldn’t say ‘crap’ he would say ‘shit.'” (And now the world has been divided in two: people who don’t get why that’s funny, and people who are deeply offended I wrote the actual word instead of bleeping it out. Ah well!)
Derek is the ideal reader. He appreciates books profoundly, and any book would be lucky to be loved so well. *I* feel lucky. So for those reasons, I’ve dedicated The Whole World to my friend Derek–and, by extension, to readers in general.
This is Derek:
Hey, check out my braces!
Also, to not leave Mom and Dad out, here they are last month in New York with me. Notice that Dad is *hugging* my ARC (an ARC is the uncorrected pre-pub version of a book for sending out early to reviewers):
Hey, check out my straight teeth! (And glazed jetlagged expression.)
Mom and Dad are in the Acknowledgments, as are my sweetheart and our two boys.
And props also to Mr. Hamingson of Columbia High School. I’m not the only one who adored him; the local Adult School (which he headed in addition to his teaching duties) hosts the Don Hamingson Literary Showcase in his memory.
Update: I’ve just come from Derek’s house, where I went to tell him about the dedication before he heard anything from someone who read about it here. I’d always meant to tell him by giving him a copy of the book itself, but in this case I had to make do with showing him the ARC. He was really pleased.
It was a treat to enjoy a cup of tea with him in his home library. He told me how he can tell whether an old book is American or British by the smell; the inks used in the two countries age differently. Then he pulled a volume off the shelf and declared its pages to have a rich smell, almost like chocolate. I breathed in the pages, and yes he was right.
The exact words of the dedication in The Whole World are: “For Derek Black, who loves books.” I think that’s accurate!
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