So I have a confession to make. I love reading the acknowledgements pages of novels. This probably started back when I realised I wanted to become a published author, and I quickly became fascinated by seeing who the other authors out there were thanking for helping their books get out to the world. There were always the common denominators – family, friends, agents, editors, publishers, etc. – and reading their gratitude always filled me with warm and fuzzies and the wishful longing of hope that one day it would be me writing out those lists to be inked into pages forevermore. And let me tell you, when that time came, it was as awesome as I’d imagined. (Yet also rather nerve-wracking, since it’s rather personal, in a weird way!)
But as I was saying, most acknowledgements follow a similar pattern, yet every once in a while I’ll find myself surprised. And this is exactly what happened to me the other day after a book was recommended to me by the amazing YA aficionado at Dymocks Sydney. When I was at the CBD store for an author event last month, I met with Emily and was honoured to take part in the inaugural “YA bookmeet” that she had organised. Since I live in a different state and can’t make it every month due to the obvious travel-related reasons, Emily offered to email me the recommendations that will be given at each meeting. The August catch up has recently come and gone, and I believe they discussed YA science fiction and dystopian novels (I’ve attached a copy of her recommendations at the bottom of this blog in case anyone is interested in those genres).
Where I’m going with all this is, one of the titles on the list made me have an “Umm???” moment – enough that I emailed Emily back and asked for more information. And that was because of Libba Bray’s ‘Going Bovine’. I mean, let’s start with the title and the brief description given below. A teen with Mad Cow Disease who has to save the world? Needless to say, my interest was piqued – if only because it sounded mildly ridiculous, to be quite frank. But after Emily replied to me with a glowing recommendation (“I was not expecting the YA rebirth of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy but that’s exactly what I got! It’s absolutely absurd and wild and it’s probably the title I would most highly recommend out of that selection…“), I decided to look into this strange-sounding book.
Long story short, I’m deep in writing mode at the moment and have only had a chance to read the first couple of chapters (and boy, was Emily correct in calling it “absolutely absurd and wild” – because that’s definitely what it is!) but it’s the acknowledgements that I want to talk about here.
… Because they are beyond hilarious.
You know how I said earlier that sometimes acknowledgements can surprise you? Well, Libba Bray provides the perfect example with Going Bovine. In fact, she goes on for a whole four pages, each of which is filled with humour. Exhibit A:
I’d like to thank the guy who once validated my parking ticket when I had no money, and the homeless lady who said my hair looked like a dandelion with pieces blown away. I’d like to thank the people who save the whales and the whales themselves, especially the whales stuck in middle management, because that is tough. I would like to thank the people in this world who are weirder than I am—all three of you, plus Crispin Glover. I’d like to thank people who read and think and people who have made me think and read and those who think while reading and read while thinking, but you shouldn’t read while driving because that’s a safety issue. If I possibly met you in some parallel universe, I would like to say welcome and thank you, too, and, you know, sorry about not calling—that time travel thing’s tricky with my rollover minutes—and also, is there a way to get that sticky stuff from the Higgs field off the bottom of your shoe? I’m asking.
I issue these copious thanks because I’m always afraid I’ll forget somebody. By the time the pages are in copyediting, and my brain feels like it’s gone a few rounds with Ali in his prime, I have a hard time remembering to pick up milk, let alone remembering the many wonderful people who helped midwife this book…
So, you know, thanks. To everybody. Everywhere. Well, maybe not the guy who vomited on my new shoes after the True Believers concert that time in Austin. I don’t want to thank him. But most people—thanks.
Still. In acknowledgements pages, they like you to get specific with your shout-outs. Otherwise, people stop inviting you to dinner. And I like dinner…
She goes on to mention some specific people, and those are still really quite amusing to read, especially things like:
The Tea Lounge on 7th Avenue, 2001-2008. RIP.
Pete Townshend. I don’t actually know Pete Townshend either, but I’ve just always wanted to be able to thank him in my acknowledgements pages.
The makers of Rock Band, because it’s cheaper and more fun than antianxiety meds.
So as you can see, these acknowledgements surprised me. They were so much fun to read! Plus, without even having opened to the first page of the actual novel (since the acknowledgements were printed at the front of the book, rather than the back), I already knew I was in for a fun, humorous adventure because the voice of the author came through loud and clear early on. And this turned out to be true, as seen when I did open up the first chapter, which begins with, “The best day of my life happened when I was five and almost died at Disney World. I’m sixteen now, so you can imagine that’s left me with quite a few days of major suckage.”
See? That’s a fun voice to listen to. I have no idea if it will last throughout the entire book – and if it does, whether it will get old, fast, but it was certainly enough to draw me in. Not to mention, enough for me to write a whole blog post about it!
So, yeah. Let me encourage you to read acknowledgements, as weird as it sounds – because you never know what surprises you might find. And I say that especially to all the aspiring authors out there. Because it truly is fascinating to see the amount of effort that goes into getting a novel out into the world and all the people who help make that happen.
All righty, I think it’s time for me to get back into my writing cave. Happy weekend, everyone!
Oh, and below are the YA recommendations from Emily/Dymocks. If you live in Sydney, their next YA Bookmeet is on September 5th in store (George Street) – all are welcome!