‘Have you ever looked at a dedication and wondered about the person? Who they are, what the connection is with the author? If there is a story behind the handful of words?’
Last night I dreamed about one-star reviews. The pre-publications nerves have definitely kicked in! I’m more nervous about this book coming out than I’ve been about others, because it means so much more to me, in some ways, than the others have. Why? Because it is dedicated to my uncle Norman.
Have you ever looked at a dedication and wondered about the person? Who they are, what the connection is with the author? If there is a story behind the handful of words? I often have, so I’m sharing this with you.
Norman Price was my uncle; a man who spent his life working hard, who always had a smile his face and a joke his lips, and who always saw good in people. Uncle Norman lost his long fight with cancer at the end of August 2017, the same time as I was mulling over ideas for a new story. He was my godfather, and his middle name, Leslie, was bestowed to me in the female form, Lesley. It’s no surprise, then, that his death coloured my thoughts, and the result is my fifth psychological thriller, The Perfect Friend, the writing of which helped me immensely to work through a lot of grief.
The theme of dealing with various forms of loss bleeds through the book, staining every character in ways large and small. But it’s not all doom and gloom, as there are little tributes to my uncle that also put a smile on my face.
The main character is called Alex Appleby, and I chose her surname because Uncle Norman lived in Appleby Parva.
I’m terrible at choosing names for characters, which is one of the reasons I love to hold competitions to name them after a reader, as a thank you for all your support. So, when I was trying to think of a name for one of the male characters, Leon sprung to mind, after my uncle’s son-in-law (my cousin Julie’s namesake had already been killed off in Flowers For The Dead).
For all these reasons, it matters that much more this time that people like the book, not for me, but for my uncle’s memory. I don’t want to let him down. In my heart, I know that he would be proud of both me and The Perfect Friend no matter what, but I want it to be the best it can be for him. With only three weeks until publication day on 5 July, I don’t have long to wait until the verdicts come in. Let’s hope the dream about one-star reviews isn’t a premonition!