Understanding Acknowledgments

acknowledgement

I need to submit my “front material” for my next mystery, Fractured Families, which will be published March 2017. For me the most troubling task is that of writing thanks and acknowledgments. I worry that I will leave someone out.

This seemingly innocent task can be rather tricky. I don’t want to thank someone who does NOT want to be associated with my books no way, no how. Does this ever come up? You bet. One of the funniest examples occurred years ago when a writer in an organization wrote really steamy “adult” westerns that sold like hot cakes. Then he wrote a historical novel that he considered the finest work he had ever produced. He proudly dedicated it to a couple who was well known for their literary excellence. They hit the roof! They did not want their name associated with porn.

Since then, I always inform people that they will be mentioned and is that okay? One time, it really wasn’t. A lawyer I knew did not want it known that he was behind the legal advice that addressed some of the questions.

My new non-fiction book Nicodemus: Post-Reconstruction Politics and Racial Justice in Western Kansas required a ton of research and the acknowledgments were numerous and quite gushy. I couldn’t thank people enough. Since it discussed 19th century African American politicians in Kansas and it was my first foray into this kind of writing I pestered a lot of very kind academics who tried to keep me on the right track.

The mystery that required the most research was Lethal Lineage. It required a lot of background knowledge about the Roman Catholic church and the Episcopal Church in America. I delved into 19th century practices, contemporary differences, and now own a lot of books about canon law and liturgical practices. There were four priests who were very helpful in my understanding of 21st century religious conflicts in rural communities. Lethal Lineage was my most difficult to write because it was basically a “locked room” mystery.

One of my dearest friends here in Fort Collins, Mary Alice McComb is a clinical psychologist and also a forensic psychologist. She has kindly steered me toward the best resources for understanding criminal psychology and deviant personalities. Fractured Families also benefitted from all the on-line information available.

Shall I mention Google in the acknowledgments?