When an author dedicates a book to an individual—sometimes to more than one person or even to a group of people—it is a gift of appreciation, recognition, or in some way acknowledging a very positive personal connection. (The detective book writer, Robert Parker, always dedicated his books to his wife.) The writer is bestowing a gift only an author can give. I usually put a lot of thought into it. And, since I have published many books there are many dedications.
It may be believed that a given book has a particular meaning to the person. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I dedicated Nothing but the Truth, to my dear friend and writer, the late Betty Miles, because she was so involved in education.
Crispin was dedicated to Professor Teofilo Ruiz, the historian. It was a brilliant lecture he gave that got me thinking about medieval times. At the time I didn’t know him. Since that dedication we have become good friends. Poppy and Rye has the dedication “To Us.” I’m not sure who “us” is.
When I published my first book, Things That Sometimes Happen, the dedication was for my son, Shaun. I did so because I had created the stories for him in the first place. Since then all of my kids have had books dedicated to them, and to their kids as well. My forthcoming Ragweed and Poppy will be dedicated to my newest grandchild, Henrietta. It will be a while before she reads it. When Rachel Vail and I together wrote the book Never Mind, we each dedicated the book to the other.
There have been dedications to my sister, brother, cousins, aunts and uncles. Any number of friends have been cited, as well as people in my publishing world, in particular editors and agents. When I dedicated a book to my wife (for the first time) it was my way of acknowledging she was going to be my wife. When I set down a dedication in the book that became The End of the Beginning, it was done in the spirit of the book’s characters: “To Avon from Edward: With Surprise.” Some books like, A Place Called Ugly, have no dedication. I don’t know why. To be completely honest there are a couple of dedications—from long ago—that I no longer know who the person was.
How do people react to having a book dedicated to them? The range is extreme. A few folks have told me “I’m greatly honored.” One person said, “It’s about time you did that.” Most often they just say, “Thank you.” A fair number of people say nothing. I’m never sure if the folks who get a dedication ever read the book.
I’m not sure it matters. I like putting down a dedication. I think when I write my last book, I should put down, “To Avi, from Edward. Thanks for all the fun.”
(Can you figure that one out?)