Presenting Rex Winters: the Story behind Gather Her Round’s Dedication

Sometimes dedicating a book is easy, as when a particular person inspires you to write it in the first place, as Tia Sisk did for my first novel, The Sword-Edged Blonde. Or when they’re instrumental in the writing process, the way my son Jake was for Wake of the Bloody Angel. Or when the stars just align, as they did when my daughter came to live with us just as I was finishing He Drank, and Saw the Spider, a novel about a wayward princess who finds a new home.

Occasionally you dedicate books to famous people whose work has influenced you. My first seventies vampire novel, Blood Groove, was dedicated to the late Duncan Browne because I listened to his music incessantly while writing it. Its sequel, The Girls with Games of Blood, was dedicated to the late Laura Nyro, because a particular passage about her in another book was the germ for my story.

And then sometimes you do it just to acknowledge the ongoing friendship that makes being a writer so much more fun.

Playwright Steven Stack

Playwright Steven Stack

My pal Steven Stack is a playwright who works in a very specific niche: he writes plays to be performed by middle schoolers and high school kids. They are funny, touching, and original; a recent one, Puberty is a Mime Field, is about a teen whose family all become mimes when they hit puberty. He also wrote a gender-swapped parody of Hamlet, Helga, and an Agatha Christie-style comedy called She Wrote, Then Died, Then Wrote Again. Ideas like this let him be both absurd, and deal seriously with things his chosen audience can appreciate. And his work resonates. He’s been performed all over the United States, as well as in India, Canada, and Japan.

I met Steven back when our oldest children attended the same preschool. He was a public school teacher then, and President Obama had just visited his class on his re-election campaign. We began meeting for coffee every Tuesday morning, talking about our current writing projects, our kids, movies, books, and anything else that interested us. We have daughters who were born a month apart, and our oldest children are in the same class at school.

Steven at my kitchen table with the acceptance letter for his second published play.

Steven at my kitchen table with the acceptance letter for his second published play.

I can’t tell you how important it is for me to have a friend who’s also a stay-at-home dad, a writer and a transplanted Southerner. When he nods along with my complaints, I know that he really does “get it.” When he gives me comments on ideas, I know they’re solid and honest. The relationship has been a lifesaver more than once, particularly when dealing with career disappointment. I can only hope I’ve done as much for him.

(Of course, he also tells the story about how he beat me in pool, which caused me to have a heart attack. My version is that he beat me because I was about to have a heart attack. But I digress.)

And so, the dedication:

To Steven Stack, a.k.a Rex Winters.

(You’ll have to ask him about Rex Winters, though.)

3 Comments on “Presenting Rex Winters: the Story behind Gather Her Round’s Dedication”

  1. Very interesting.At one point in his young life he wanted his name to be Rex.He told his teacher at Sunday school Rex was his new name. This is a very interesting blog about your friendship and who Steven is.

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