I’ve been fascinated with tats since I realized the art form was possible. Writing about a fictional rock band Tattoo Thief, in which every member has at least one tattoo, lets me invent wonderful backstories because I believe every bit of ink has (or should have) a story.
My favorite real-life tattoo story is from a friend: “My friend David and I got drunk and made out during Seafair week in Seattle. Then we got anchor tattoos like the sailors and we made out some more. But the next week, my ex-boyfriend and I got back together and now we’ve been married ten years. David’s my son’s godfather now.”
In Tattoo Thief, the leading man, Gavin, has a tattoo of the word reckless inked backward along his collarbone, so it’s legible in a mirror. I was inspired by a tattoo I couldn’t immediately read on a guy in the Los Angeles airport.
In the book, a reporter asks Gavin about the origin of his band’s name, but Gavin only says that it’s Tyler’s story to tell. Here is where I confess to you, dear reader, that I had no idea what the name’s backstory should be, so punting that answer to the following book was a cop out on my part.
But somehow inspiration found me. *cue choirs singing from the heavens*
In Tyler & Stella, the sequel to Tattoo Thief, I chose my cover model early and decided to mold the story around some of his attributes, including the tattoos and nipple piercings. But I had a hard time explaining the gun tattoo on his forearm, which was inconsistent with my character Tyler’s gentle nature and bad-boy-with-a-heart-of-gold vibe.
Rather than giving you an explanation, I snagged a short excerpt as Tyler tells aspiring music journalist Stella how his band got its name.
Excerpt from Tyler & Stella
[Tyler] “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.” His grin is rakish and tempting.
[Stella] “I don’t have any.”
“Yet?” Tyler’s brow lifts—a challenge.
“I don’t want to wear my mistakes. When I get a tattoo, I want it to be about the future.”
“See? You said when, not if. You’ll get one. Then you can show me yours and I’ll show you the rest of mine.”
Unnnh. My mouth goes dry. Is he flirting?
“In one interview, Gavin said you copied someone’s tattoo.”
Tyler frowns. “It’s the only tattoo I regret. I was trying to be tough, you know, when I started the band. Gavin and Dave and Jayce were cool. They had game. They had girlfriends, even when we weren’t famous. I could barely talk to girls.”
My heart warms to the idea of this deliciously muscled man in front of me squirming and striking out with the ladies. “So you decided to get a tattoo?”
“Yeah. There was this guy—he was a senior and I was a freshman in college—and he had this gun on his arm. I thought it looked edgy. So I got one, too, but when he saw mine, he got all pissed that I copied him. A few nights later he spray-painted Tattoo Thief across my mom’s garage door.”
My eyes widen. This isn’t a story I’ve heard before. I scramble to jot down details in the notebook I’d forgotten in my lap, but Tyler touches my wrist lightly. “Can we keep that part off the record?”
I know this bargain: either he’ll tell me more and I can’t write about it, or he won’t tell me. My insides are at war—I love this detail, but I have plenty of other stuff for my story. My curiosity wins.
“OK. So what did you do?”
“My mom came home, and I was freaking out she’d be angry. But she said, ‘Tattoo Thief? That’s a cool name for a band.’ And it stuck.”
I hoot with laughter. “What? Your mom wasn’t pissed about the spray paint?”
“She was at first, but she told me later she wanted me to repaint the garage doors anyway. Gavin begged her to let it stay, like advertising, so she did for almost a year.”
“Your mom is cool.”
The tattoo Stella gets in this book is just the one I crave for my own skin.
Here’s the part where I’d better tell you that Tattoo Thief is free everywhere (Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iBooks), and two more books in the series (all standalones, and each about a different member of the band) are also available on all retailers. Thanks for letting me visit the blog, Sydney!!
Thanks so much Heidi. I just love her and her books are AMAZing!!!!