Thursday, July 29, 2010


Thanks, in large part, to a recent post by Emily regarding her body art struggles, I have been prodded to think about my next body art venture. I've had an "empty spot" that I've wanted to fill for some time. I've blogged about my tattoos before so I won't bore with what they are or why I got them. This time, I've resolved to get something book-related.

Which is, honestly, why it's taken so long.

It seems everyone agrees that the cover of The Ninth Avatar is great. Eye-catching, at the very least, but fitting to the subject matter and the darker themes of fantasy war. That being said, I don't really think it would be a good idea to get an army of undead warriors tattoo'd anywhere on my body. I have a few ground rules for tattoos which, frankly, most people would agree with:

#1: Never get a tattoo of someone's name unless your bond to them is absolute
Many people believe their bonds are absolute when they enter into relationships, but more often than not this type of tattoo proves to be a very bad idea. I've seen people get tattoos of their children's names, or their dead relatives, or symbolic images representing either, and I can understand this. Alive or dead, they will always be your family, and a declaration of that fact is sometimes helpful when the latter is the case. If you want a reminder of your boyfriend/girlfriend to carry around with you, order a wallet-size photo instead.

Note, I don't even advise this for people who are married. It's not that I believe the divorce rate so high that you're likely to break up. More accurately, having been through a divorce, I know how painful it can be, and I don't advise having a permanent reminder of that pain that you would then need to (expensively) remove or (sometimes just expensively) cover up.

#2: Never get a tattoo containing a skull, naked woman, or horrific "thing" that looks like it runs Hell's Literary Agency
Caveat: If you own a motorcycle and copious amounts of leather, have killed a man, or have done time in a correctional facility, please feel free to get whatever tattoo you want. You might regret it later, but so do many other non-violent law-abiding folks who thought they'd love butterflies and unicorns their whole lives.

To be honest, most of us 9-to-5ers work in an office building and we don't generally have a day to day need to intimidate our fellow cubies. Or make them think we're outlaws. I just believe that if you're going to put it on your body, forever, then it should be something beautiful to you. If you're into a angel having [unwilling] sex with an demon (which I have seen, in real life) then by all means go for it. Just don't ask why IBM chose someone else for the position.

#3: Nothing above the collar, nothing below the waist (unless you run out of room)
This one, of course, still has the caveat from above. The same reasoning applies. Neck and face tattoos can be quite frightening and, though in a different world it might be nice to express myself that way, I just can't imagine wearing a tattoo in a place I won't be able to cover up for a fancy event or wedding. I'm the type of guy who has tattoos but who also owns suits.

Regarding the "below the waist" angle, the fact of the matter is that it's a lot of real estate, but no one's likely to see it except at your local swimming pool. Therefore, it renders the real estate as second-rate. Kind of like Nevada.

So, it's within those confines that I contemplated my next tattoo. I knew where I wanted to put it, and how much space I wanted it to take up, but I had no idea about what it should be. As I said, I wanted to get something book-related, and by that I mean one of my books. The "original" Ninth Avatar cover was an absolute no-go, considering that girl was a stock photo and I had no special attachment to it. The "official" cover is also a no-go, for reasons already mentioned.

Plus, I don't just plan to release one book in my career. Sure, publishing my first novel was a milestone, but how many books will I write/publish in the next 10, 20, 30 years? (God, I hope I still want to get tattoos when I'm 60 years old)

So, I contemplated a solution to this quandary.

Many authors get tattoos. I'm not the only one who ever thought of it. Hell, Jacqueline Carey has an entire section of her website devoted to fan-art-tattoos. I'm certain that, soon, Peter V. Brett will have something similar. But while The Ninth Avatar references symbols for the 9 Pillars, the actual symbols were not used within the book or on the cover. Chiefly because they were drawn [poorly] by yours truly.

Without use of the cover or any story-related images, I was left with coming up with a completely different idea. Which I have. It is awesome.

No I'm not going to show it to you. Not until after I get it done, anyway.

But what about you all?

Do you have any tattoos?
Are they book-related?
Do they go against any/all of my 3 rules?

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  1. LOVE this post. But not as much as I love how you've linked to me twice in recent blog posts :)

    I actually really love the Dickens one. I was going to get a Chaucer one for the longest time, which I'm sure, after you've read my story, you'd agree would probably have been a better idea!

    I'm excited to see what you're going to get!

  2. Well, if you continue posting interesting things, I will continue to link to you. Promise.

    The Dickens one was the best literary tattoo I could find on semi-short notice. I don't plan these entries too well, if I haven't said that before. Two of mine are in that same spot, but they are just kanji. I get asked about them once in awhile, not as often as I used to, but happened just a few weeks ago in a local post office. The clerk asked another clerk, a Japanese woman, to read them to make sure they were what I thought they were. Hilarious, if somewhat embarrassing.

    I'll post a picture of it as soon as it's done... but that's probably a ways off at this point!

  3. I've got a dragon tramp stamp - decent sized. Its wings are maple leaves, just in case I ever need a reminder of my Canadian heritage ;)

    I have 3 more planned... one on my upper back, one down my ribs, and one tiny one on my wrist. That one breaks the rules a bit, but I can also cover it with a bracelet or something at work.

  4. DK, now I feel like I have to ask how it breaks the rules... a skull, a girly, or a literary agent??? (or, more likely, did you just mean it'd be visible? lol)

    I like the dragon/leaf idea. Sounds like one my wife wants to get... sort of. You two should talk about it at some point.

  5. Nah, too old...or too chicken; one of those two anyway.

    I thought for a second that the Dickens Tattoo had to be read as one page.

    What a pain in the nads that'd be having to hold your arms like that everytime you were showing 'em.

  6. Hi TF.80! Thanks for stopping by!

    I'd like to think "it's never too late to get a tattoo" but that's probably just wishful thinking from a 29-year-old-about-to-turn-30.

    2 of my kanji sets are exactly where the Dickens tattoo is in that picture, and it IS a pain in the ass to hold my arms so that people can look at them. Except, I guess, if I held them the same way that guy did, the people would be reading them upside down (or looking over my shoulder).

  7. Yes.

    My friend had the name of the first school he taught in translated into Gujarati and transcribed up one leg. When he was on holiday, he was delighted when a passing bi-lingual waiter asked him why it read MERIDEN up his leg. He also asked if it a mis-spelling, had intended it to say something more important. Like that could happen! ;)

  8. Elaine! Sorry your comment didn't post last night, I forgot that I turned on moderation!! Stupid spammers.

    Anyway, that is an awesome story. I've heard a few horror tales about how people got kanji tattoos that didn't mean anything close to what they thought. I put in a ton of research before I got mine, and I've had multiple people "read" them over the years (only 5 years, but still). It's always funny when people ask me if I know what they mean... as if I'd put something on my body permanently without being certain!!

  9. I like your rules! Except the real estate of the ankle seems to be more of a useful thing in women. That's where mine is.

  10. Yes, Lydia, for some reason the ankle seems a popular place for women to get theirs. I don't truly understand this, because I hear the ankle is a particularly painful spot!!

  11. I truly enjoyed your post. Made me laugh out loud at the Lib. Thanks.

    Always Bumby

  12. Thanks Bumby! Hope you didn't get in trouble! Haha.

  13. No tattoos, but I love them on others. I just can't think of any image I'd like to imprint on my body forever. I tend to write on my hands, doodle on my arms, but henna is really beautiful. Love the Dickens tattoo...words, I might be able to live with forever.


I'm always happy to hear from you, even if you disagree. Leave a comment or shoot me an email (, whichever you prefer. Thanks for stopping by.


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