Without whom, etc.

They’re the Oscar speech of the publishing world, the grand gesture of appreciation for all those who helped you along the writing journey. Every would-be author dreams of being in a position to write them. I’m speaking, of course, of the Acknowledgements.

Finally, this week, I got to write my first set of author notes, AKA acknowledgements, and submit them along with the final version of my book. What a unique pleasure! I’ve often thought about who I would thank for their support in getting me here, and why. Gratitude for the support of friends and family, I had supposed, and those who provided inspiration for my story or characters. People from the writing and publishing community and industry who had helped me write/edit/rewrite/submit/sell my book. And this week, I found out who all those were.

Funny story: the secondary love interest in my debut novel is a character called Peter, and he was inspired by both of my last two boyfriends. I had started writing the book, and the Peter character, back in 2015 when I was infatuated with one of these two guys, so Peter started out mostly like him. But this man – we’ll call him Guy 1 – although interested in me, wasn’t available to date. So when I met Guy 2 in 2016, I dated him for a few years instead. My Peter character then became half Guy 1, and half Guy 2 – largely the good qualities of both, with a couple of the annoying parts of both thrown in for balance. I had finished the book by the time I broke up with Guy 2 and started dating Guy 1, who had become available, and I was with him until a year ago. Now I’m not seeing either of them, but I’m still on friendly terms with both. Got it? Good.

I wanted to partially acknowledge their influence on my character in my author notes but, at the same time, I found it a little galling to name either of them so publicly. In addition to this, the main love interest Rob was inspired by a young man I briefly met near Seattle many years ago, whose name I didn’t even get – I just remembered him as being really attractive ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. So I couldn’t name him as a source of inspiration, even if I wanted to! What’s more, through my editing process I had a number of advisers who helped me ensure I was portraying an Indigenous character sensitively, and I know they would prefer to remain anonymous, so this added to the list of unnamed recipients of my gratitude. Thanking people without naming them is a tricky business, but I hope I’ve done okay.

I told my lovely Mum, back in the UK, that I was writing my acknowledgements on our weekly Sunday phone call. She chuckled, and began speaking in a haughty Queen’s English voice, “I would like to thank blah-di-blah and so-and-so, without whom none of this would be possible.” I cringed, and was forced to admit that I had indeed used the phrase “without whom” in my notes. Well, it’s hard not to!

Speaking of acknowledgments being the “Oscar speech” of publishing… My darling nephew Oscar, who along with my other nephew Felix are the two lights of my life, of course made the cut. I’m now thinking that I didn’t also submit a dedication for the front of the book. But there’s still time…