Monday, 1 February 2010

Acknowledging My Dedication Duties - Lucy Coats

Dedications have been much on my mind lately.  Book dedications, that is, because a short while ago I had to think up twelve of the things for my new series, Greek Beasts and Heroes, (the first four of which come out next Thursday from Orion Children's Books).  Then I read this article in the Daily Telegraph where Lizzie Enfield 'looks at the poetic history of a book's first few words, which are so often secretly coded by their author.' That set me thinking. Was I the kind of author who would put in secret dedicatory codes to tantalise my readers?  Well, I hadn't been.  Before this series, I'd  always been pretty open and clear with regard to my dedications and kept them mostly to those in the family, bar an ancient headmistress or two.  But then this request for twelve-by-yesterday landed in my inbox.  It was surprisingly difficult to decide what to say, and to who, and it took a lot of pondering.  So, although I've dedicated some to family members again, I've branched out a bit.  And there is now at least one mystery for those who are interested in such things.  The fourth book--The Dolphin's Message--has this impenetrable dedication "For S.R. and H.C., wonderful friends and the other two very intelligent members of You Know What.I know, and they know (and were thrilled with the compliment)--but nobody else does, or will ever, know what You Know What is.  Feel free to guess, by all means, but I ain't sayin'!

Not everyone is thrilled with their dedications from authors.  I was quite surprised to learn that one of my literary Facebook friends did not care for hers (from another writer) at all, and reckoned she should have been consulted first. I still haven't discovered what was said (the literary friend is very discreet and would never spill the beans), but it must have been inappropriate at the very least.  Till now it has never occured to me that I had to ask before I dedicated, but perhaps it should have, as I  would hate to cause offence.  Luckily, so far I've had no complaints--and I trust I never will.  I don't know about other authors, but I dedicate to those I love and respect.  I don't think I would ever dedicate something to a stranger--even if if were someone I admired a lot*.  For me dedications are small personal gifts to another--and I think about each one very carefully. Acknowledgements are the same--but of course they don't go in every book, because there isn't always room,  For those that do have the space, I like to look back over the long hard process of writing that particular story, and remember who has supported and been there for me during that time.  My acknowledgements are a little history of good and bad times in that period of my writing life. 

As a child, the prefaces, dedications and acknowledgements were the bits I skipped over. I was a reading beast, tearing past those boring page bars to get to the meat of the story itself.  Now, like Lizzie Enfield,  I find them endlessly fascinating windows into another writer's world. I do sometimes wonder fleetingly if anyone reads mine, apart from me and the dedicatees.  I will never know, and I'm not bothered if they don't.  My thanks are out there for anyone to see if they want to, and that's what matters to me. All I can hope is that I haven't forgotten to mention somebody vital!

* The one exception is in The Sailor Snatchers, the last in the series, which I have dedicated to all my readers.  If they've stuck with me through twelve books, I reckon they deserve it, and I hope there are lots of them!

Look out for Lucy's new 12-book series Greek Beasts and Monsters coming Feb 2010 from Orion Children's Books

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AnneR said...

It had never occurred to me that people might be offended by a dedication. How bizarre! I don't add a dedication unless it is very specifically for that book, but it hadn't occurred to me to ask first. Maybe I should....

Thinking of 12 at once must have been a bit of a struggle. I like the intriguing, mystery dedication :-)

Lucy Coats said...

And an intriguing mystery it will remain...!

Miriam Halahmy said...

I always read the dedications and ponder on who they are and why they were chosen. Its a lovely way to start a new novel. Great post, I'll look out for your dedications from now on!

Book Maven said...

I wondered at first if the mystery organisation was the SAS but didn't recognise the initials. Now I'm thinking it might have something to do with my namesake.

I always dedicate but 12 at once would fox me!

Lucy Coats said...

Wrong on both counts, Mary! But there may be an interesting piece of post for you shortly.....