What a strange word blurb is – it’s not at all onomatopoeic as it doesn’t sound remotely like what it is. Wikipedia puts it perfectly:
A blurb is a short promotional piece accompanying a creative work. It may be written by the author or publisher or quote praise from others. Blurbs were originally printed on the back or rear dust-jacket of a book, and are now found on DVD and video cases, web portals, and news websites.
The word was invented at the start of the twentieth century and the names Brander Matthews, Frank Gelett Burgess, Frank A. Munsey all have a hand in it.
It sounds the easiest thing in the world to do – a short piece introducing and promoting something, giving a taster and teasing the prospective reader into becoming the actual reader; however, in practice it’s not so easy. I write my own blurbs for my books, and it is really difficult to condense into a few sentences the actual feel of the book as well as something intriguing about the story line or characters, or evoke the setting and scenes which take many thousands of words to evoke in the actual book.
Writing about my latest novel, Lucky Portbraddon here, it is easy to explain that although it is about a family, and a year following their lives, it is not just a family saga it is not just about the loves and losses of the clan, it is about how they seem to fall apart following the death of their beloved grandmother who ruled and maybe even controlled them… In a way it is a family saga, I guess, but it is much more than that.
There is a plot about the selling of holiday homes in a dangerous but beautiful part of the world and how one of the cousins is drawn into something deeper and more dangerous than he ever could have imagined – he owes hundreds o thousands of pounds and is pursued by dangerous people who are utterly ruthless… These ruthless people may be the same ones who traffic young women as prostitutes, and the daughter of one of the cousins becomes involved with them and then is kidnapped by them and gang warfare comes unexpectedly to the streets of a small sleepy slightly old-fashioned seaside town…
There is another plot line about mental health issues; OCD, eating disorders, and schizophrenia… the family have to come to terms with and support their loved ones afflicted in this way – and sometimes they fail.
There is a stalker ex-husband who at first is merely annoying, but later physically attacks someone who he mistakenly believes is having an affair with his ex-wife. There is a man embarking on a career in music and all seems to be going well until he has to make a choice between a relationship and his career.
How to put all this into a blurb? This is what i actually wrote… I may change it at some point…
“Lucky Portbraddon… a rather rascally ancestor of my late husband, or so family legend has it… A favourite friend of the Prince Regent, apparently, but Lucky made, not lost, his fortune…”
A few days before Christmas, as the Portbraddon family gathers at their grandmother’s big house up on the moors, the last of the cousins drives through a blizzard to join them:
…There was a severed dog’s head stuck on the gatepost. There’d been a few seconds pause in the driving snow and in those few seconds, lit by their headlights, she glimpsed the wolf-like creature, maw gaping, tongue lolling, teeth bared in one final gory snarl. Then the blizzard obliterated the stone beast and everything else in a seething maelstrom…
A near-death experience does not seem an auspicious start to their family get together, but the cousins determine to celebrate as they always do. However as the old year ends and the new begins it seems their good fortune is about to run out. An unexpected death, a descent into madness, betrayal… and as the year progresses other things befall them, a stalker, attempted murder, a patently dodgy scheme for selling holiday homes in a dangerous part of the Caucasus… Maybe the Portbraddons are not so lucky… except there is also love, a new home, reconciliation, a spiritual journey, music.. .
One thing remains true, whatever difficulties arise between them, whatever happens, family is family, family first… “They’re like a big bunch of musketeers, all for one and one for all!”