The Dreaded Bio

The Hesperides (Labour of Hercules)- Photo credit: Ian W Scott via / CC BY-SA

My publisher, Endeavour, needs a bio from me. For civilians, that is what we call a biography; for writers, it’s the 3rd worst painful exercise to subject a writer to.

The undisputed most painful exercise, of course, is the synopsis. Cue the deep-throat narrator. One woman…one natural disaster…one hour to live… can she survive?

Writing a synopsis is the equivalent of facing screaming legions of Hell during the Apocalypse. Do you have any idea on how hard it is to boil your full length novel down to a one or two page synopsis and not make it sound like, “and then this happened, and then that happened, and finally, this happened.” You might as well have a vulture pick at your liver.

By Cornelis Cork via Wikimedia [Public Domain]
The second most painful rite of passage is creating the blurb, the back-jacket copy that is meant to entice readers. Sounds easy…ha, you think! You might argue that by sailing around the synopsis on the River Styx, you already have the bare bones of a blurb, but not so, my young grasshopper. Where the synopsis is meant to tell the reader what your story is about, the blurb is meant to tease them with as little information as possible. Pick up your favourite book and see what they included in the blurb as well as what they didn’t. Clever right?

Ancient Book and Key

But the third is definitely the bio, because now it’s all about you. If the synopsis is like breaching the castle walls and the blurb is like sacking the citadel, the bio is reaching the inner sanctum. In there you will find a glowing box perched atop a stone podium and all you have to do is pop it open and REVEAL WHO YOU ARE. Introverts run from the room screaming. Extroverts, not so much.

Pandoras box

Here’s the thing, most writers tend to be introverts which makes this exercise particularly ironic. I can only postulate that forcing a bunch of writers to talk about ourselves is just the universe’s way of inflicting payback for the hubris of wanting to write a book.

Have you noticed that many authors include information about their pets in their bio? Since we’re mainly introverts, this makes perfect sense if you think about it. Pets are a safe subject. Everyone likes them and they really are the only ones who truly understand us. Pets really don’t look for conversation. Maybe a warm keyboard to curl up on (while it’s in use) but that’s about it.

But what if you don’t have any pets, as it happens in my case? What now?

“Cryssa doesn’t have any dogs or cats but she would consider getting a snake except that she objects to their diet.”

Which is true, but I’m thinking that I need something better than that. Not everyone connects with snakes. I settle in my chair, poise my fingers over the keyboard, close my eyes and think…what do I want a reader to know about me?

“Cryssa Bazos is an incurable romantic and a history nerd.”

Anyone who has been following my blog will know that yes, I am a history nerd, especially a 17th century history nerd. I squeal over re-enactments. The content I share on twitter, through the EHFA, the HNS and even through my new broadsheet, Mercurius Istoria (shameless plug: click here to subscribe ) is all historical content. Because I love history.

Then there is the romantic part. This is the part where the glowing box starts to open and reveal a truth that I haven’t really touched on before. I am an incurable romantic. Not a gushy romantic who delights in red roses and chocolates offered by a knight on a white charger. I do love fragrant pink English roses, not long stemmed red tea roses which take themselves far too seriously and have no fragrance (or personality) at all. But is a rose any more romantic than a daisy?  I will never turn away Purdy’s dark chocolate caramels with pink Himalayan sea-salt but I really don’t consider them romantic either—addictive, yes, but not heart-warming. And as for white horses, I do prefer the image of a dashing cavalier to a medieval knight, but it isn’t necessarily what I consider romantic either. Now a highwayman…

The black highwayman via VisualHunt

Love, romance, romantic elements (or any way that you want to call it) are essential ingredients to a good story. People struggling to connect, to find love in the hardest and harshest conditions is romantic fodder for me.  It doesn’t have to fill the entire story and may just be a small piece of it, but that connection is what makes for a memorable story. I would argue that this drive to connect, emotionally and romantically, is even more important in historical fiction than we’ve given it credit for. When recreating the past, whether writing about a historical character or a purely fictional one, you can’t do it without understanding their fears, hopes and motivations. Give this concept a shake and you will find that love, in all its nuances, underpins our motivations. This is what connects us as human beings. This is what gives truth to fiction.

So yes, count me in as an incurable romantic. So glad to have gotten that off my chest.

First line done. Now to stop procrastinating and get back to the rest of the bio.


  1. Good luck. Brilliant and so true. I dread writing and updating all three. You are not alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So glad to hear that


  2. Is it bad to admit that your description of the pain you are going through made me grin?! You describe it so well and so wittily and I love the illustrations you have chosen too. Good luck with your bio

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not at all. Thank you! 🙂 Every stage seems like a slog and I expect that no matter how long I do this, it won’t get any easier. I owe a great deal to my network for helping me with this. I’d be lost without them.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I could write a thousand bios. I suffer through the blurb. I would rather have a root canal, have my knee replaced or work overnight sweeping a floor than write a synopsis. I feel your pain. Thanks for the wonderful blog. You are not alone…and I am so glad you love history. We nerds have to stick together.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We do indeed! It helps to know that we’re not alone in this misery.


  4. pennyhampson2

    You’ve hit the nail on the head. I can treat the synopsis as an intellectual challenge to distil my plot, the blurb as an exercise in picking out plot elements that will hook readers… but the bio? I’m just a boring history nerd!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s how I think of myself too. 🙂 I like your idea on the synopsis too. It helps to think of it as a tool to make the most of a story.


      1. pennyhampson2

        Exactly! I have to tell myself that if I managed to complete a whole d***m book, I should be able to explain what it’s about (but far easier said than done). Glad I’m not the only one who finds these things difficult!

        Liked by 1 person

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