Louise Candlish on book dedications by Louise Candlish
Agatha Christie famously dedicated The Secret Adversary ‘To all those who lead monotonous lives in the hope that they may experience at second hand the delights and dangers of adventure’. It’s a dedication as artful as any of her plots, at once generous and damning: who of us wants to admit to leading a monotonous life? (I’m exciting, me.) And yet who wouldn’t want to be included in a dedication by the great AC? (Me, me!)
My own dedications have been much more forgettable – even to me, I’m ashamed to say, because when I sat down to try to remember them for this column, I could only recall three of four; nowhere near the full dozen. So I’ve looked them up and compiled a little medal table of dedicatees:
No dedication: 1
The ‘no dedication’ is the one that interests me the most. Was there really no one helpful enough or longsuffering enough during the writing of that book? How could I have forgotten I had a second (and very lovely) sister and, indeed, a father? The book was called Other People’s Secrets, so maybe I was keeping the name of my special person under wraps? At the very least, I could have said ‘To X’ and decided later.
Looking at the chart, I see other omissions, besides the missing family: my editors, who have done more than anyone on earth to improve the stories and help them reach readers. Now I feel bad! So watch this space – or, rather, watch the space on the page at the front of the next few books.
Our House is dedicated to Sara-Jade Virtue, aka SJV, @BookMinxSJV, the tour de force behind, among other things, the Books and the City website on which you read this now. If my life is measured in books, then SJ and I became chums at Book 3 (she worked at Waterstones and had chosen The Double Life of Anna Day for a promotion), and when she switched from retail to publishing I watched and admired her work with her authors and hoped we might one day collaborate. And here we are at Book 12! Here she is, in Our House.
I’m not the first author to dedicate a book to ‘the inimitable and remarkable SJV’ and I doubt I’ll be the last, but Agatha Christie’s definitely wasn’t for her because SJ’s life is anything but monotonous. She experiences its delights and dangers at first hand.
Really, someone should write a book about her.