Tattoo Tuesday with Steph Post – interview

Walk in the Fire CoverBrian Lindenmuth: What was the first tattoo you ever got and why did you decide to get it?

Steph Post: I got my first tattoo, a lotus flower on my back, on my 18th birthday, on my first real road trip. I had always been fascinated with tattoos as a kid and knew they would become a part of my life as an adult. My family was less than thrilled. I called my mom from Atlanta on my birthday and the first thing she said was, “I know what you did and I don’t want to hear about it.” Fortunately, she’s gotten used to my tattoos by now.

What was that first experience like?

Exciting. I’m not one of those people who likes to brag about how they don’t feel pain or how tattoos don’t hurt. They can damn well hurt. But I don’t remember how the first one felt at all (whereas I can still remember what it felt like to have my elbow drilled…). I just remember feeling excited about the process and also a bit like I was coming into my own.

Tattoos can capture a memory, or are representative of a feeling or a person. What is your most meaningful tattoo, and why?

Oh, wow. Every tattoo of mine has meaning. That’s why I get them, as a record, in a way, of an experience or a time in my life or something that I was feeling and wanted to hold on to forever. Many of them have a meaning in themselves in what they depict and others are simpler and represent a time and place. One of my favorite tattoos is a gorgeous fox piece on my right leg. The fox is my spirit animal and so this image represents me as a whole, rather than marking out just one facet of my life.

What was your last tattoo?

I was tattooed a few weeks ago, actually. Just a small piece on the inside of my arm. It’s a line from The Little Prince and reads “But if you tame me, then we shall need each other.” It’s in honor of all the dogs that have come into my life and passed on (and two in particular who left me this past year) and also explains how I feel about the intense connection I have with the dogs I’ve shared my life with.

When will you get your next one?

Who knows? I usually get tattooed about every six months, though lately it’s been stretching out to once a year or so. I’m not hanging around tattoo shops so much like I used to. I do have my next tattoo in mind, and it will be a big one, but I almost always sit on a tattoo idea for months and months before committing to it. So, we’ll see…

Any tattoos you regret?

Nope.

What do your tattoos say about you?

That I’m badass? No, seriously I think they express the things I value most in life. Tattoos can never be lost, can never be taken away from you. They can fade somewhat or acquire their own scars, but you own them in a way that you can’t own anything else. I’ve never been one to show off my tattoos or to get tattooed just for fun or the hell of it. It’s always an intensely personal experience, which is sort of how I approach everything in life, I suppose.

How do others react to your tattoos?

I’ll tell you, it’s a lot easier to have tattoos now that they’ve become so popular. It didn’t used to be so acceptable, especially for women. Years ago I had a lot of people, strangers always, who told me that I was going to hell or would never find a guy and would never amount to anything. This happened a lot when I was waiting tables back in North Carolina. I’d be like “here’s your sweet tea” and some lady would say thank you and then tell me how it was such a shame, because I could have been such a pretty girl without all those tattoos. The absolute worst was when, for a time there, people felt like they could just come up and check out my tattoos. I almost decked a guy in the grocery store once for trying to lift up the back of my shirt to see one of my tattoos. That hasn’t happened in a long while, though. I think I’ve gotten enough now that people are too intimidated. Or maybe I’ve just perfected my “back off” look, finally. 🙂

What do tattoos bring to our culture?

Tattoos used to be the mark of an outsider. And of being part of a tribe of outsiders. In a way, I miss that concept, but I also love that now more people feel that it’s okay to express themselves, in whatever way they may choose. So I think tattoos indicate an openness to, quite literally in some cases, wear our hearts on our sleeves. Tattoos let us share ourselves, oftentimes our most true selves, in a language this is both simple and transcendent.

Do you have a go to tattoo person/shop? Give them a shout-out.

I don’t and very much wish I did! My latest go-to guy, Sean Williams, who did quite a bit of my more recent work, left St. Pete and I moved as well, so I’m still looking for someone local to have that tattoo connection with. But since so many of my tattoos have been acquired while traveling, I have work from too many artists to even remember. I love working with one artist for a time, but I also love picking up work from artists all over the country when the time and place is right for a new tattoo.

Bio: Steph Post is the author of the novels Walk in the Fire, Lightwood and A Tree Born Crooked. She graduated from Davidson College as a recipient of the Patricia Cornwell Scholarship and winner of the Vereen Bell award, and she holds a Master’s degree in Graduate Liberal Studies from UNCW. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, a Rhysling Award and was a semi-finalist for The Big Moose Prize. She lives in Florida.

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I come to praise Allan Guthrie, not bury him

DkUmR6fWsAAEAyoOver on Twitter on Saturday I decided to celebrate Allan Guthrie and his books with a small series of tweets. It received a good response but since I wrote them on my phone while at the dog park, I wanted to take the opportunity to collect them together here, add some more thoughts, and pull together some links.

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Let’s talk about Allan Guthrie and his books. Allan Guthrie writes full-dark, gonzo, noir fiction. He published five novels and three novellas from 2004-2010. His novels are: Two-Way Split, Kiss Her Goodbye, Hard Man, Savage Night, and Slammer. His novellas are: Kill Clock, Killing Mum, and Bye Bye Baby.

For many years Allan Guthrie’s website, Noir Originals, was an essential read. It featured emerging writers of noirboiled fiction, articles, interviews. He also wrote an important contribution to the creation of a noir fiction canon, 200 Noirs.

I believe Guthrie’s momentum was lost and he is now, unfortunately, more of a cult writer with less recognition than he previously enjoyed, especially among writers and readers who have come to crime fiction in the last couple of years. Publishing can be like putting logs on a fire. When logs are regularly put in a fire, the flame burns constant and bright. When no logs are put on the fire, the flame can gutter or extinguish.

Allan Guthrie has not been idle, he was running Blasted Heath books, he’s part of a team that started their own literary agency, and he’s the acquiring editor for Bastei Luebbe’s BE imprint. But because he’s not active on social media and hasn’t had a book out in a few years, his name isn’t ringing out in the streets the way it once did.

I don’t know what Al’s future writing plans are, he may surprise us all and start publishing new books regularly (hint, hint). If he doesn’t, I just want to do my part to make sure his work is remembered.

Where to start with Allan Guthrie? If you want the full basement-noir-crazy shit, go with Hard Man, Savage Night, or Slammer. If you want something a little more along the lines of conventional crime fiction, go with Two-Way Split, Kiss Her Goodbye, or any of the novellas. Even if the latter category is more your speed you still owe it to yourself to try something from the former.

Bottom line: If you’ve made it this far and Allan Guthrie is new to you, what the hell are you waiting for? Go read some Allan Guthrie.

Tattoo Tuesday with Angel Luis Colón – interview

pullBrian Lindenmuth: What was the first tattoo you ever got and why did you decide to get it?

Angel Luis Colón: I was 18 – it was the late 1990’s…GUESS WHO GOT A SWEET TRIBAL-STYLE TATTOO? It’s on the left side of my left calf. All black. Super edgy.

What was that first experience like?

Fun but it’s a little murky. I went to a joint around the corner from my house called Tattoo Seen. The guy who did the work was cool enough but being an idiot kid probably didn’t help matters. I was insufferable back then (and still am but just a lot prettier).

Tattoos can capture a memory, or are representative of a feeling or a person. What is your most meaningful tattoo, and why?

My latest tattoo, a portrait of the Gill-Man with the words “SOMEBODY’S FAVORITE” on the border is pretty meaningful to me. It is an homage to the unfortunate bastard that tried to be my first father figure and a bit of a message to me as a writer to maintain my course – to not worry about what anyone thinks so long as I’m doing what I love.

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What was your last tattoo?

I got the Gill-Man mentioned before in May.

When will you get your next one?

If I had my druthers, tomorrow. The wife gets the next shot, though. I’ve gotten three in a row and should take a break for a little bit.

Any tattoos you regret?

Nope. I love all 8.

What do your tattoos say about you?

That I’m a nerd. I’ve got Spider-Man, the Gill-Man, Edgar Allan Poe, and an homage to Twin Peaks permanently inked on me.

The deeper story? Pop culture kept a quiet little kid in a fucked up situation from going off the deep end.

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How do others react to your tattoos?

Mostly bemusement. I don’t really care.

What do tattoos bring to our culture?

I think that depends on what tattoos mean to the person. For me, my tattoos are a story for me to enjoy first – a little biography through bloodshed. That said, I look at tattoos as a means of processing our lives.

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Do you have a go to tattoo person/shop? Give them a shout-out!

Baz over at Clash City Tattoo in the East Village is my dude. Brilliant tattooist.

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Angel Luis Colón is a Derringer and Anthony Award shortlisted author. His published works include the titles: PULL & PRAY, NO HAPPY ENDINGS, the BLACKY JAGUAR series of novellas, the short story anthology; MEAT CITY ON FIRE (AND OTHER ASSORTED DEBACLES), and the upcoming HELL CHOSE ME (2019).

His short fiction has appeared in multiple web and print publications including Thuglit, Literary Orphans, and Great Jones Street. He also hosts the podcast, the bastard title.

Keep up with him on Twitter via @GoshDarnMyLife

Tattoo Tuesday with Gerard Brennan – interview

51zWilVgEnL.SX316.SY316Brian Lindenmuth: What was the first tattoo you ever got and why did you decide to get it?

Gerard Brennan: I got the words “Made in Ireland” on my shoulder. It just seemed kind of funny and it only cost me a tenner. I didn’t really put too much thought into it, unfortunately. In a place like Northern Ireland it could be seen as a little contentious; a political statement even. The kind of thing somebody with a Nationalist mindset might ask for. Honestly, it just made me chuckle a bit.

What was that first experience like?

Really fast. It didn’t hurt that much and I was in and out in minutes. The tattoo was tiny, and since it was my first one, I think I’d hyped up the level of pain I could expect a little too much. I was nearly disappointed. The larger pieces I got in the years following that one fairly made up for that, though. I’ve had plenty of pain.

Tattoos can capture a memory, or are representative of a feeling or a person. What is your most meaningful tattoo, and why?

There’s a small dragonfly incorporated into the sleeve tattoo on my left arm. It represents an uncle of mine who passed away. He used to take me fishing, and I have vivid memories of blue dragonflies zipping along the tall grass on the banks of the rivers we fished. I’ll always think of him every time I see one. The actual tattoo is green, though. That’s because I went fishing with my brothers-in-law a couple of years ago, and as we set up our tent, a green dragonfly landed on my arm, close to where I eventually got the tattoo. I was a little tipsy and pleasantly stoned, so I kind of chose to believe that it was Uncle Michael stopping by to say hello.

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What was your last tattoo?

My sister and I got matching tattoos a couple of years ago. A Hamsa or The Hand of Fatima. It’s supposed to be a symbol of protection.

When will you get your next one?

When I get the chance to figure out a matching tattoo to get with my brother. He feels a bit left out that my sister and I share one.

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Any tattoos you regret?

Nah. I got a few covered up when I decided to get a sleeve, but that was just because they weren’t the same style and I had a firm idea of how I wanted my sleeve to look. Life’s too short for regret, I think.I like them all.

What do your tattoos say about you?

Mostly that I like tattoos.

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How do others react to your tattoos?

I get funny looks the odd time. And people tend to be surprised that I haven’t been to jail and that I’m actually a nice enough person. But those kind of interactions aren’t as common as they used to be. I think they’ve gotten more acceptable in the last ten years. And I’m not as hardcore as some. I don’t have any neck or hand tattoos.

What do tattoos bring to our culture?

An appreciation for other cultures. My tattoos are from various countries. I have Japanese inspired art, Middle Eastern religious icons, a little hat-tip to Mexican art, a massive Chinese Buddha on my back, and some Celtic designs. I also have a class caricature of Edgar Allan Poe on my inner right forearm to let everybody know that I’m a writer.

Do you have a go to tattoo person/shop? Give them a shout-out!

Yes, most of my work has been done by Gigi McQueen, an award-winning local artist now working out of Wickerman Tatttoo in Newcastle County Down, a lovely wee seaside town here in Ireland. She moved here from California about ten years ago and has done some fantastic work.

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Gerard Brennan recently earned his PhD in Creative Writing from Queen’s University Belfast. His publishing credits include Undercover (2014), Wee Rockets (2012) and The Point (2011); winner of the Spinetingler Award for Best Novella in 2012. His latest novel, Disorder, was published by No Alibis Press in 2018.
 

Tattoo Tuesday with Rob Hart – interview

potters field

Tattoo Tuesday is a new interview series (hopefully!) where we talk to authors about their tattoos.

Brian Lindenmuth: What was the first tattoo you ever got and why did you decide to get it?

Rob Hart: A celtic knot on my right shoulder, which morphs into a dragon in the middle. I drew it myself. I thought it was so cool. I still think it’s cool because it’s my first. Pretty much all my tattoos are milestone tattoos—I got them to mark a life event. This was “I’m 19 and can legally get a tattoo.”

What was that first experience like?

Scary, because you’re making a decision you can’t go back on, but that’s also kind of the point. And it hurt a little more than I’d been led to believe. But overall, I was pretty happy with how it went, except, I remember having a mini-meltdown because I went to the gym the next day and sweat out a little bit of ink and I thought I’d ruined it. But it healed up fine.

Tattoos can capture a memory, or are representative of a feeling or a person. What is your most meaningful tattoo, and why?

The heart on my left arm. I got it because my daughter underwent two open-heart surgeries the year she was born, for a condition called Tetralogy of Fallot, which means a couple of things go wrong with the formation of the heart. She’s great now and we’re far enough past it that it’s mostly just a story and a scar. Forgive me if this is a little precious but I wanted a scar to remember it, too.

I also got a tattoo on my right forearm to mark the publication of my first novel, and I like it a lot, but the heart wins, for sure.

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What was your last tattoo?

A switchblade handle with a fountain-pen tip on my left forearm. I got that to celebrate my most recent book deal—a pre-empt sale to Random House, with 18 foreign sales so far, and we sold the movie rights to Ron Howard. It felt like something worth commemorating and it’s a tattoo I’ve wanted to get for a while.

When will you get your next one?

I’m up to eight, and I always tell myself I just got my last one, and then an idea will strike me and I like it and I end up going in. I do feel like I’m nearing the end of the road because I don’t want to be covered and I’m running out of free space, but I wouldn’t rule anything out.

Any tattoos you regret?

Not yet!

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What do your tattoos say about you?

I’m not sure. “I want people to believe I’m super cool because I have body art.”? I’ve always thought of them more for me, and will often resist when people ask me to explain them, because what they mean to me is enough.

How do others react to your tattoos?

I get the occasional compliment, which is nice. Coming back from Singapore recently the customs official really dug my book tattoo and I told him about it and he said he would look for it on Amazon, so I was like, “nice, I made a sale!” But truthfully, I don’t get people engaging with them a whole lot? I do have a hydrogen atom on my arm, which was partially inspired by Doctor Manhattan in Watchmen, so every now and again someone will point and be like “Watchmen?” and I’ll be like “yup!” That’s always fun.

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What do tattoos bring to our culture?

They’re a form of expression, and I think, a fun and bold one that is often deeply personal. It’s pretty cool to take something so personal to you and wear it on the outside, so people can see. Or certain people, if you mostly keep it covered up. Either way, it’s art, and art is good, no matter what form it comes in.

Do you have a go to tattoo person/shop? Give them a shout-out!

Magie Serpica at Milk & Honey on Staten Island. She’s done my last four, plus touched up another where the ink didn’t take very well because it got a little infected. She’s got great style and sensibility, and her shop is right down the block from my house, so as long as she’s in business I don’t think I’ll get work done anywhere else.

Rob Hart is the author of New Yorked, City of Rose, South Village, and The Woman from Prague, as well as the upcoming novels Potter’s Field (Polis, July 2018) and The Warehouse (Crown, 2019). He is also the co-author of Scott Free with James Patterson. His short stories and non-fiction articles have been published widely.

Tattoo Tuesday with Chris Holm – interview

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Brian Lindenmuth: What was the first tattoo you ever got and why did you decide to get it?

Chris Holm: My first tattoo was a Celtic circle on the inside of my right leg, a little ways above the ankle. Back in ’97, this was. I was nineteen. At the time, I would have told you I was getting it to honor my Irish and Scottish heritage, as well as my undergraduate infatuation with complexity theory. The truth is, I was a cautious kid who’d always had a fascination with tattoos. I thought that if I didn’t leap at the opportunity when it presented itself, I’d never get one—and Celtic blackwork was in vogue at the time.

What was that first experience like?

Bizarre. Hilarious. Terrifying in retrospect. A college friend (and, okay, drug dealer) who worked at a pizza place in town knew an ex-con whose tattoo guy made house calls. After some back and forth, me and four friends set up a tattoo party at the ex-con’s place—a shitty apartment above an Italian restaurant in a suburb of Utica, New York.

The artist was legit, thank god. An old-timer who learned his craft in the Navy and honed it tattooing on the Ringling Brothers train. He drew our designs on freehand, in Bic pen. I think mine cost me thirty bucks. It ain’t perfect, but twenty-odd years later, it’s still hanging in—and I’ll never cover it, because the story’s too good.

Tattoos can capture a memory, or are representative of a feeling or a person. What is your most meaningful tattoo, and why?

My wife and I have matching swallows, which are traditionally tattooed in pairs. Swallows mate for life, and although they often travel long distances, they always return home. As such, we kinda consider them our wedding tattoos. Each is incomplete without the other, and they represent our commitment to one another.

What was your last tattoo?

Last month, I got a traditional flower just below my swallow, along with a banner that reads Always. For the past couple years, I’ve been struggling with anxiety and depression, and I never would’ve gotten through it without Katrina’s support, so I suppose you could consider it a renewal of vows. I’d been pondering the tattoo for a while, but actually getting it was a spur-of-the-moment decision. I was hanging out in a tattoo shop during a friend’s long sitting, and one of the other artists (who happens to specialize in traditional tattoos) had some unexpected free time. That makes it technically the only walk-in I’ve ever gotten, even though it’s still a custom piece.

When will you get your next one?

Beats me. Done right, tattoos are an expensive* habit, so Katrina and I generally take turns. Since I just got one, the next one’s all hers.

*Sidebar: When it comes to tattoos, you get what you pay for. If you’re considering one, do your research. Find an artist whose style you like. Instagram’s a great place to start. Set up a consult. Bring references. Listen to their input. And for god’s sake, don’t try to haggle with them.

Any tattoos you regret?

Nope. Every one of ’em was an experience, a mile marker, a happy memory. I did have one—a sugar skull—I wasn’t wild about in its original form, but I’ve since added to it, and now I like it quite a bit.

What do your tattoos say about you?

Honestly, I’m not sure. Each means something to me personally, as does the fact that I’m tattooed in general, but I can’t speak to what they say to others. Although they certainly suggest I’m not afraid of commitment.

How do others react to your tattoos?

I live in Portland, Maine, which is a pretty tattooed city, so I often forget that I’m also pretty tattooed. Sometimes, when I’m traveling, I’ll get a couple sideways glances, but by and large the response is overwhelmingly positive. My typewriter tattoo is always a hit at writing conferences. My black-and-gray elephant is most popular among random passersby.

What do tattoos bring to our culture?

Obviously, they’re a mode of self-expression. An outward reflection of the person wearing them, for good or ill. But they can also be a rite of passage, a rejection of the quotidian, an induction into a new tribe. There’s something beautifully savage and viscerally satisfying about marking one’s flesh. Maybe that’s why humankind’s been doing it for at least as long as the fossil record allows us to examine.

Do you have a go to tattoo person/shop? Give them a shout-out!

I’m probably rare among the (somewhat) heavily tattooed in that I could name each of the (seven) artists who’ve tattooed me. But Steve Chambers at Halcyon Tattoo in Windham, Maine and Doug Landry at Broken Crow Collective in Portland, Maine are my two go-tos. Both are insanely talented, and good guys, to boot. I’d let either of ’em jab me with needles anytime.

Bio: Chris Holm is the author of the Collector trilogy, which blends crime and fantasy, and the Michael Hendricks thrillers. His first Hendricks novel, THE KILLING KIND, was named a New York Times Editors’ Choice, a Boston Globe Best Book of 2015, and Strand Magazine’s #1 Book of 2015. It won the 2016 Anthony Award for Best Novel, and was also nominated for a Barry, a Lefty, and a Macavity. His second Hendricks novel, RED RIGHT HAND, was named a Boston Globe Best Book of 2016 and nominated for the 2017 Anthony Award for Best Novel. Chris lives in Portland, Maine.

 

Exsanguination Blues – Music Monday

I went down a YouTube rabbit hole to see if anything interesting would turn up in the mix of my algorithms and random clicks. Here’s what I came up with.

“Mama Said” by Cat Clyde. Nice little hypnotic song. Good voice and some interesting phrasing without having too much quirk factor.

Alice Phoebe Lou’s light touch probably shouldn’t work well for Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” yet it does. She’s got a powerful voice and an earnestness that provovides an interesting contrast to the lyrics.

Nahko’s  “Warrior People” came to me because Sandra has been listening to indigenous music and her choices affect my algorithms so this popped up in my feed.

This next one is a group called Sticky Fingers. They are playing a song called “Cyclone”. The singer’s voice grabbed me. I don’t know if this stripped down approach is indicative of their normal sound but I’ll be sure to find out.

A recent Bandcamp Daily brought Sabata to my attention. A great old school punk vibe with unexpected turns thrown in for good measure.

I recently acquired a record collection that someone was getting rid of, about 150 lps and 150 45s. I didn’t know what was there until I got home and was able to take a look. Turns out there is some good stuff. Here are some of the 45s:

Here are some songs that I heard on the radio and Shazamed.

“Karolina” by Crisco Dreams

Jade Bird “Lottery”

“Black Moon Rising” by Black Pumas

“4 UR Life” by Daniella Cotton