It’s coming to three years ago when my wife, Brey Willows, told me she had a book in her head; a trilogy actually, the Afterlife Inc., series. The trouble was, whilst she was a pretty prolific writer of short stories, she’d never got beyond thirty thousand words on a novel. She’d tried, but she’d shelved everything when she hit 30k. She told me about Alec, who would be the first Fury sister to be featured, and about her ebony black diamond snake tattoos which would come alive and wreak vengeance. I was hooked, and I told her she had to write it.

“I don’t think so,” she replied. “No one will want to publish it, and no one will want to read it.”

“That doesn’t matter,” was my response. “I want to read it.” I wanted her words; I wanted her fabulous Fury fantasy to be on paper. But she needed a little motivation…

My girl loves tattoos. HUGE fan. So I said that if she finished the books, I’d have Alec’s snake tattoo. That was all the motivation she needed, and she got to writing. It was hard but she knocked it out of the park, and five months after that conversation, she was given a contract for it by our wonderful publisher, Bold Strokes Books (and you can buy the whole trilogy from their webstore, starting with Fury’s Bridge and Alectho).

So now I had to fulfil my end of the bargain. All of the tattoos I’d had up to that point were done in the States, and I’d just come back from getting my feather tattoo on my right arm (I designed it to represent Brey and I, and our two very different, but complementary personalities). Brianna was an amazing tattooist and I said that she had to be the one to ink Alec’s snake. Problem is, we weren’t going back to Seattle for another couple of years.

In the meantime, I wrote the first in my Extractor trilogy, and Landry has a tattoo that I designed in my head and wanted on my bod. Around the same time, a friend had some work done to cover her self-harm tattoos by an amazing artist called Harry Townsend, at the Old Forge Tattoo Collective in Sheffield, UK. I was so impressed by the work, and I’d done the design myself, that I decided to give the guy a shot.

I’m glad I did, because his work and line drawing was fantastic, and I started to think that maybe he could do my snake. Anyhoo, fast forward six months and a planned trip to Seattle. Yay, it’s snake time! But Brianna had moved on so I decided to get in touch with Harry to discuss what was in my head and how he could make it come to life.

What you’re seeing above is the result. But this is only the start. I’ve given my whole back to Brey’s words. As she writes a new book, so a primary character will have a tattoo. That tattoo will find its way onto a page and onto my back. At the base of my back will be an open book from which the pages have been torn. It’s going to be EPIC!

Anyhoo, back to the meaning. I’ve only ever had tattoos that resonate, that mean something. I’ve never had the urge to look in a design book or pick something off the wall. I want my tattoos to tell a story of my life. I want to see them and be reminded of my history and my present. I want them to be proof of my love for my wife (who is prone to doubting it, and if you’ve reading my blog, “Listening and Hearing,” you’ll know why). And I don’t give two craps as to what they might look like when I’m seventy—I’ll probably be too blind to see them anyway if current eyesight deterioration is anything to go by!

So, that’s the (very long) story behind the newest addition to my body art. Why do you have tattoos? Thanks for reading 🙂

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