word craft


Q&A: Why do you have dedications in your books?

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.

Dedication to Teofilo F. Ruiz
The ded­i­ca­tion in Crispin: Cross of Lead

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.

Dedication to Dan Darigan
The ded­i­ca­tion in City of Orphans

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.

Gary D. Schmidt
The ded­i­ca­tion in Catch You Lat­er, Traitor

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.

dedication to Natalie Babbitt
the ded­i­ca­tion in Punch with Judy

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?)

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