“For You” by Deb Emily

Emily Winslow by Jonathan PlayerI 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!

10 Replies to ““For You” by Deb Emily”

  1. 1. You have a beautiful smile. You look about 12 years old in the with-braces photo, and about 13 in the without-braces ones!

    2. How did you and Derek become friends? He sounds like a character from the pages of a book. I love his observation about the odor of inks from different countries. Fascinating. Was the chocolate-smelling book British or American?

    3. It’s so true about curse words polarizing readers. I know people who won’t read a book once they’ve been tipped off that it contains “foul language.” On Facebook recently, one of my Friends who is a writer declared in her status update (doubtless in response to an angry reader email): “Yes, I KNOW my narrator has a potty-mouth. I have no control over what he says!” I, for one, appreciate the creative usage of curse words, and find them very therapeutic to utter, in the proper circumstances!

  2. 1. *blush* I’m proudly turning 40 this month, with all the delightful maturity and deteriorating body that that entails, and will inhale that compliment.

    2. Derek married one of my husband’s college friends, and, by chance, they moved to Cambridge the same year we did.

    I think the chocolate smelling book was British.

    I’m tempted to take a video cam and interview him in his home libe just talking about (and smelling!) his favorite books.

  3. “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.”

    WOW. I think I actually have a British book on my shelves. I think I’ll go sniff it. But, it’s paperback. Does the smell hold across formats? Does it deteriorate with time and overseas shipping? Has my British book (BEACHOMBING by Maggie Dana) become contaminated by its many American neighbors?

    See, this is what we miss out with the Kindle and Nook and whateverthehell. That “book smell”. Mmmmm.

  4. It’s always a challenge writing a book where the main character is a different nationality (even region) than the author! My MC is Canadian and thank goodness for my three Canadian teens to told me what was what. Glad you’ve got your proofer too! Nice post.

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