Monday, 15 March 2010

The art of the cover blurb

Last week we sorted out the cover-blurb for the fourth Samuel Carver novel 'Dictator'. It was actually a very painless process: no arguments, fights, bitter struggles to impose ones view of the book against that of the publishers, none of that. All was peace and light. Which is by no means always the case. After all, you've got around 120 words, max, to sum up a 100,000-word novel. An the aspects of the story that matter to an author may very well not be the ones that the men and women in the editorial and marketing departments think will actually sell the damn thing. So I'm always trying to flog the personal dilemmas that Carver faces, as he tries to square what he does against his moral standards (and establish at least one successful relationship with an absurdly attractive leading lady while he's at it), whereas the commercial imperative is squarely focused on the desire to let buyers know that they are going to get a belting portion of slam-bam action, delivered at a pace that makes Usain Bolt look like a pavement blocker. Clearly, it would be nice to convey both the yin and the yang, Carver's violence and his vulnerability ... but given the choice, the violence tends to win. This time, though, I think we've at least hinted at the moral argument that runs through the new book - which essentially debates the pros and cons of killing a corrupt leader in a bid to foster a new, democratic society (see 'Hussain, Saddam' for details) - which explains why I signed off on it quite happily.

Anyway, here is the blurb ...

Africa has had more than its share of dictators, but Henderson Gushungo may be the worst. Millions starve and opponents are flung in jail, while Gushungo and his cronies get rich on the country’s rich natural resources.

A powerful consortium of political and business interests offer Samuel Carver the job of enforcing regime change. Can the taking of one life save millions of others? And can Carver trust the men who hired him?

As the action hurtles from the plains of southern Africa to the teeming streets of Hong Kong, and an old enemy rises from the grave to haunt him once more, Carver becomes both the hunter and the hunted in a deadly game where the survival of a nation is at stake.

That leaves out a lot of my favourite parts of Dictator … like a particularly twisted and misshapen villain; a choice selection of deliciously attractive, but complicated ladies; a new addition to Carver’s repertoire of administering sudden death, and an homage to the game of golf in Goldfinger, but with loaded guns and a strong sexual undercurrent.

But in order to discover all that, people will have to buy the book. So that blurb had better do its stuff …


  1. I think if it had mentioned golf I would have put it down, but this intro is intriguing and I want to know one thing: when does it come out?

    Oh- and which member of the group is this?

  2. I so want to claim that I wrote 'Dictator', but the Carver books are written by the brilliant Tom Cain.
    We Curzon members once had a brief discussion about our posts here and agreed - ahem - to sign our names at the end of our posts... Someone wasn't listening...
    So now he's been outed ... it's TOM CAIN.
    (But I'm not letting on who I am...)

  3. I guess he's not responding to comments either, eh?