Very excited to be looking at mocked-up covers for my Millie and Bird short story collection and very fortunate to have the permission of artist Barbara Skingle to use her painting Katherine and Millie, which inspired my Costa winning story, as the cover image.
I have also been trying to write my version of the blurb and bio for the back of the book – it’s great to have this degree of involvement with the whole process and also to have great advice from my editor at Iron Press Peter Mortimer. But writing your own blurb can be tricky. One way to get started is to find a blurb on the back of a book you already have that you think is good and use that as a starting point, if not as a kind of template. Ask yourself how is it structured, how long, what language is used – key words, questions etc?
Blurbs should be concise and punchy, they are not about telling the story although they may give a glimpse of the beginning and a hint of what is to come. They should pose questions, intrigue, make the reader want to know more. To write them can be revealing – suddenly we have to ask ourselves what is this collection of stories all about, what do these stories have in common? For this reason it can be a great exercise to write the blurb for your work in progress. If you are working on a novel or a collection of stories or poems try writing the blurb and you might be surprised what you discover. Knowing the essence of the novel, of what it is really about, can also inform the rest of the writing.
So what did I discover about my collection? Well, for one thing it’s teeming with birds – birds fall out of the sky, herons inhabit the river, a swan comes at night… I could go on. It was a surprise to me, I tend to think of water as my element but maybe it’s air too. There is earth too and invisible pathways. Less of a surprise was the way loss and survival are threaded through my writing and mingled with them, the coming of ghosts and the whisper of dreams and longing.