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.
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?
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.
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…
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.