A Few Thoughts About Acknowledgements

When I thought about writing this post I started wondering – for the first time really – if other people actually do read the acknowledgements at the end of a book as religiously as I do. At least I read them religiously a lot of times. Especially if I enjoyed the book or love the author in general.

I don’t know, if it makes me a nerd, but I just really love reading them! Maybe because I like to be reminded that even though writing in itself is a most solitary activity, being able to write and even more to get published is a team effort. It needs copy editors and agents and publishers and research assistents and people who inspire you and so forth. I might be a rather solitary person myself, but I as well know that most things in life take a team effort and I’m grateful for my team. I hope I acknowledge them enough in real life.  (How did that post turn into one about me all of a sudden?).

Anyway, as I was reading my way through all of Jojo Moyes novels these past few months I, of course, read her acknowledgements as well and she’s pretty good at writing those too. I don’t think there is a right or wrong way or a good vs. bad way of acknowledging the people who helped you write a novel. But I definitely appreciate the elaborately and well written ones. Maybe it’s this additiontal glimpse I get of the person who wrote the story. And to just see that the writers I love and admire are kind and humble and lovely people who know that they couldn’t have done it all without the help of tons of people. And who want to express their gratitude for all the support they got in doing what they are doing.

Diana Gabaldon is really good at acknowledging all the people who helped her writing her books, too, but this post was sort of prompted by Jojo Moyes, so I’d love to share some of my favourite – most adorable – bits from hers.

“[….] and Saskia and Harry for sleeping occassionally, and thus allowing me to do it. To Mum, and Dad, as ever. And most of all to Charles. Who puts up with it. And me. Not necessarily in that order. One day we’ll talk a bout something else in the evenings. . . honest . . . ”
(in ‘Foreign Fruit’ 2003)

“Apologies and thanks to Saskia and Harry, who now understand that when Mummy talks to herself and occassionally forgets to make supper she is not displaying early signs of madness but actually paying the mortgage.
And most of all to Charles, who puts up with me periodically falling in love with my male leads and now knows so much about the process of writing novels that he might as well publish his own. For everything else. XX ”
(in ‘The Peacock Emporium’, 2004)

But I also  love it, when she writes about her inspiration for a particular story, like in “The Ship of Brides” (2005), which is a story about a few of the many young Australian women who left their home country after WW II to be reunited with their husbands in the UK.

“My grandmother Betty McKee was one of those lucky enough to have her faith rewarded.
This fictional account, inspired by that journey, is dedicated to her, and to all those brides brave enough to trust in an unknown future on the other side of the world.”

The most heartbreaking acknowledgement probably is her inspiration for “The Horse Dancer” (2009). This novel is about a girl and her horse in a London urban stable. Jojo writes that she was a similar girl and that this story was inspired by a magazine piece about Mecca Harris, a 14 year old girl, with a love for horses in Philadelphia, who was murdered in an alleged drug killing.

“I now live on a farm. I get to keep a horse in green fields, instead of under a railway arch. Mecca Harris should have had her green fields. This book is dedicated to her and children like her, for whom horses can be a way out.”

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