on blurbury

Been way too long since I posted something. About a month, actually. Been insanely busy though.

I just wanted to talk briefly about blurbs. Most probably don’t know what that is, but writers are crazy about that word. It’s such a big part of their world that it’s almost absurd. Here’s how it goes for me.

For Ash Cinema, I didn’t even try to get a blurb. Didn’t even look for one. I like that novel a lot, especially as time goes on, but I never really felt like I had to grab at people’s attention with it.

For Twilight of the Wolves, I reached out to a lot of writers that I truly love. Mostly just big names because I think you may as well reach as high as possible, because the worst thing that can happen is they say No, which takes nothing away from you. I went for big names too, because this is a difficult novel to pitch and sell, and I thought having some famous names on the cover would do a lot of the legwork for me. Unfortunately, none took the bite, so I scrambled for some last minute ones, and since only one person had read the novel at that point, I got Kyle Muntz to blurb me. Then Berit Ellingsen was kind enough to make the time to read and say awesome things.

Noir: A Love Story is the one that I’ve done right, I think. Because of the way Twilight of the Wolves has struggled to find its audience, and because I had its success too tied to my emotions, I decided to go in a more personal way with Noir. It sort of still crushes me that Twilight of the Wolves hasn’t found its audience, but I’m more hopeful with Noir. I sought out a few different writers and I chose them for specific reasons. Tim Horvath because I wish I could write as intelligently as him. Jac Jemc because My Only Wide is haunting in all the ways I hope Noir is. Matt Bell because we’re both writing a sort of fantastic or mythological modern day. And then Steve Erickson because he’s my hero. I honestly consider him the greatest living american novelist, and have ever since I first burnt through all his novels. I couldn’t stop reading them, so I read them twice. He’s a genius in all the ways I hope to some day be, and I sent him my novel, not really expecting anything, but because I needed him to read it. If he liked it even a fraction of how I love his novels, that would make it all worthwhile. Every bad review would roll off me because I’d know Erickson digs it. I mean, he’s the whole reason I wrote a novel at all. He’s the reason I chose to take writing seriously. He showed me that I could write the things I want to write how I want to write them. I can be different in all the strange ways I am different. I can be a sentimental surrealist and find beauty there. More than that, his novels feel so close to my heart. I imagine we share many of the same obsessions, with film being the most obvious. And I wanted this novel, specifically, to have his name attached to it. I don’t think it’s similar to what he’s written, but it’s the novel of mine that’s closest to my heart. Probably because it’s my first.

And so I really can’t express how amazing it was to receive this blurb from him:

In Noir, Rathke exposes the pale, sickly underbelly of a vibrant utopia for all to see. He unravels the quiet metaphysics of the detective thriller by letting all of the witnesses carry equal weight. Rathke has a faith in his reader that makes the experience of reading his work one full of extraordinary rewards and teeming satisfaction.

So that’s how I went about seeking blurbs, and I think I finally figured out the right way to do it. To be honest, I wanted a blurb from Wong Kar Wai and Max Richter too, but I don’t know if they’d be into that.

There are other things I should be sharing, since a lot’s happened in the last month, but I just wanted to touch on this briefly because it really does make a lot of this feel worth it to me.

There’s one writer that I keep not asking for a blurb, though I probably should have three times by now. That’s Stephen Graham Jones, who’s basically the coolest guy around. I keep saving him for something special. Probably either the giant monster novel or the horror novel. We’ll see.

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