Sam asked me the other day about my dedications in my books, and it got me thinking. I hadn’t really considered my dedications – well, obviously I consider them individually, as I write the things – but I hadn’t thought about them overall.
Mine tend to have a format, which stems from the very first one in Green Sky: a memory, and then a dedication to a person. Green Sky and Sparks was written from a lot of childhood stories and dreams, and so I’ve drawn on that memory; and it’s also dedicated to the man who was my base for Catter, and who I entirely blame for Catter falling in love when he wasn’t meant to, and changing the story.
The rest follow the same format. The people range from family to friends: my latest one, Desert Sands and Silence, is dedicated to Jamie and Sam and Victoria (a nice little test there to see if any of them read this, hah – not that I’m an evil friend or anything!) because they are a huge influence on my writing life, and I want to recognise that. The memories go from childhood to specific moments to the instant of inspiration; and in two books, I’ve included snippets of poetry that inspired me as well. They’re all things that are important to the story, or influenced it.
So…why do I write dedications? I don’t have to: the title page is there for the title, after all, and that’s all that is needed. I do worry sometimes that by singling people out, by naming them as influences and inspiration, I’ll somehow offend those people who aren’t named…and picking one moment, one thing, can sometimes be hard – trying to isolate something in the welter of memories and psychological mess that is my brain can sometimes be quite difficult, particularly when it’s tied up into a fictional and imaginary world and I’m not even sure where half the ideas come from.
But, I suppose, what it comes down to is that I want to write dedications. I want to thank the people that are important to me and my writing, and the best way that I can do that – as well as in person – is by putting their name and my feelings into print, at the start of the story that they influenced. The memories are all things that are there, are relevant, form part of the background of the writing; I want to be able to explain them, or at least recognise to myself (and potentially to others) that the memory is there.
And, ultimately, I’ve never had a problem writing dedications – I don’t labour for hours trying to think of something to write, which I think says a lot. I wonder if in future I will struggle for things to say – but at that point, I’ll change how I do things. And to be honest, I don’t think I’ll ever run out of inspiring people in my life: if anything, I have too many to thank. Which is possibly the best thing that I could wish for, and one that I want to use my writing – and books – to celebrate.