2018 and 2019 were very busy years for me in the other areas of my life. My plan to deliver The Fur Heart to you has slowed somewhat but the story is one I am sure you will love, hopefully making it worth the wait. It is making excellent progress, as is the second in The Painted Sisters series – Painted Strength. I will start to share more of these two stories with you in the coming months. They are neck for neck on word count so it will be whichever pips the other to the post which one you get to read first.
The upside is that I actually have quite a few things already in the works that are scheduled for 2020 and early 2021.
The 1st is a stand alone release early Feb of Betrothed, originally titled, The Russian Betrothal, in the Once Upon a Christmas Wedding Anthology that ran from Mid Oct 2019 to Mid January 2020. I am adding some delicious new content for those of you who loved Georgie and Demetri’s story and want to share a bit more of their journey (watch out some some wriggle in your seat snippets over the next couple of weeks before that goes live!). You can read the 1st chapter HERE
PAINTED STRENGTH, Lila and the Lion Tamer, is Book 2 in the Painted Sisters Series; a thriller romance series about girls who have been tattooed as living art and a ritualistic serial killer trained to track them down and kill them to return their skin to the men who bought them. It is set in late Victorian England and due out end of the year/early 2019.
This snippet is at the beginning of the book, Lila our heroine, almost fell off the high wire again and the circus manager, Mr Spencer has closed down her act and given her two choices, leave or work the back tent with the whores. Count Stephan, the Lion Tamer who has never said a word to her, has stepped in.
Bailey & Bailey Circus, Bath, 1899.
Spencer’s face was all screwed up as he looked at her. He was put out. The Count had a lot of sway, he handled the big cats but he was also a wealthy man who contributed a lot towards funding the Circus.
“You his ‘darling’ then?” the manager asked.
The Count looked down at her. It was hard to read him in the dim light. His skin was bronzed, jaw square, a masculine face with brown eyes, nothing pretty or soft. He had hair the color of the Sahara desert, of golden sand that shone like burnished satin tassels. His head tilted to the side in question at her silence. She could walk out right now and take her chances on the street. They weren’t good. Or she could take the chance the Count held out to her.
Lila lifted her chin and flipped back her head as she turned and faced Spencer.
“I thought you knew?”
His response was priceless, he hated not knowing everything that went on under the big top. His weasel eyes squinted into narrow slits then he turned to the Count.
“Well she’s your responsibility. She is housed with you and paid by you out of your share.”
The Count didn’t flinch. “Naturally.”
She on the other hand jerked. “I share with the tumblers.”
Spencer had already turned and was almost out of the space. “Not anymore….darling. Remember my warning you’re out or in the back tent if you muck this one up.”
That left just the two of them.
“What were you thinking with all that darling, darling, darling? Couldn’t you save me and not land me in your trailer? You’ll have to move out.”
Her hands were on her hips and her costume felt far too tight as her chest heaved.
The Count turned and walked away.
“Where are you going? We need to sort this out. Where will you be sleeping?”
“Grab your things. I lock the trailer at ten PM. After that you can work it out with the lines men.”
The lines men all slept under the stalls.
“This is not finished!” Lila called after him.
Inspector Morrison and Master Brody return to London with the body of the first crime scene in Manchester. They are still feeling each other out.
The pup was intense and quiet as he sat opposite Morrison on a crate, alternating between scribbling and drawing in his notebook. There were no notable facts punctuating the train trip back to London, that jubilant boy was gone.
It had been impossible to get the kid into the passenger carriage, so here they were, sitting in the baggage carriage like a couple of stowaways, with the box that contained the girl’s body. The pup next to it like a guard dog.
The train lurched to a stop, steel screeching on steel as the driver engaged the brakes.
“Kid . . .”
The pup nodded and closed his book, slipping it into the leather satchel slung over his shoulder, then stood. He placed his hand on the box containing the girl’s remains, almost as a communication, a reassurance.
Steam puffed out onto the platform, covering the first alighting passengers in fog. The bobbies were waiting, and they jumped into the baggage carriage and unloaded the box with well-practiced efficiency headed, the kid following closely behind.
Morrison grabbed the kid’s arm and turned him around. “Listen kid, I get this might be your first big show, but you can’t take it personally. Whoever she is, God rest her soul, her body is crime scene evidence now. It’s going to be prodded, poked, exposed and sliced as the quacks try and find more answers for us.”
The pup tugged out of his grip.
“I want to be there!”
Hell, the pup was hit hard. The first horrendous injustice either riled you up or took the wind out of your sails. He should be thankful it was the former.
“You don’t have to be there, we’ll get a report.”
The pup’s face screwed up as if Morrison were mad. “A report where they pick and choose what to write down; only we can discern the facts we need for the investigation.”
Morrison stilled. He regularly went in while the coroner worked, listened as they talked. On more than one occasion, the facts he needed weren’t in the report but in the discussion during the examination.
Morrison poked the kid in the chest. “Who the fuck are you, kid?”
The kid recoiled at his touch and his face shuttered.
It could be a lucky guess the kid was already showing he had more than the average level of smarts and he was a fast learner, but Morrison’s gut said something more was going on. That was the second time the kid had closed down when asked about his background.
Morrison leaned down so close that they were almost nose to nose. “I will find out your secrets, boy, and I will expose them.”
The pup’s eyes flared wide before that innate internal barrier slammed down again. At least the pup knew where they stood.
Morrison stepped back. The kid straightened his shoulders and turned to follow the box, his usually lily-white cheeks pink and blotchy.
“We’ll attend the sessions with the coroner,” Morrison said as he laid his palm on the kid’s back and propelled him after the bobbies and the corpse filled box.
The kid flashed him a look of surprise. Surprise and caution.
Miss Edith Appleby has commenced employment with the eminent forensic surgeon Dr. Anthony Vaughn, he has come home late from a day trip to Glasgow to assist the medical Coroner there with a case. Their unexpected and delicious exchange of the night before on his mind.
The sight of her wasn’t what Vaughn expected. He’d seen the light was on, but he’d imagined he’d see Thomas in the anatomical lab, not her, not his Apple. Vaughn moved through the room towards his newest household member, his chest oddly tightening.
Flashes of her had come at unexpected moments throughout the day, on the train, while he examined the microscope slides, passing through a darkened corridor; they were a staccato of unexamined reminiscences, of relived sensations and growing wants. Despite assuring himself that last night was an anomaly, most likely for both of them. He’d nearly lost his footing in his effort to catch the last train to make it home tonight. Not that he’d go to her room—that was the realm of fantasy—but he’d been disappointed to find the theater and its surrounds dark and empty.
As if God, who had consistently ignored him at the surgical table, now chose to listen, there at the end of the room, bent over a dissection table, was his Apple. So engrossed was she in her task that she didn’t turn at his steps, not even as he came to a stop close behind her. She had a black elastic strap around the top of her head, holding in place a magnifying glass and light for detailed dissection work. The focus he read in her body told him this work was not new to her. There was a sense of confidence in her that she didn’t have in the surgery. Her claimed familiarity with anatomy and dissection had not been a fabrication, not like the rest of her apparent history. It seemed women with secrets were to be his fate.
She jumped and turned, the scalpel she was using suddenly poised as a weapon.
The dramatic stance was somewhat surprising yet totally overshadowed by the picture she presented with the great big magnifier in front of her eyes. Vaughn raised his eyebrows and the odd tightness seeing her generated in his chest grew.
There’s a fledgling killer, fostered and trained by men so deep in the echelons of power catching him could be more dangerous and letting him run loose. Inspector Morrison and Master Brody head to the first crime scene in Manchester.
Morrison stepped from the cab. Wind sent his black coat billowing and flapping behind him as he pressed down his hat and made his way to the front door of the three story soot encrusted boarding house. People, dressed in shades of dust and smoke milled about for word of the events within. Around them a chimney filled skyline purged black smoke into a sky that had no choice but to suck in the pungent fumes as all around them the city’s heartbeat filled the air with the ceaseless pounding of cotton looms. It was truly as Friedrich Engels, the socialist voice of the people described …‘hell on earth’.
“Inspector Morrison…Sargent Briggs.” The Sargent held out his hand. Morrison took it, and received a firm dry handed shake, the man was solid.
Sargent Briggs looked to be mid-thirties, tired eyes and a jacket that swan on thin shoulders. Briggs didn’t appear to eat his fair share of gods’ mighty bounty. He would be paid enough unless he had a dozen kids to feed at home or his wife, tired of too many nights alone had left him to his own devises. Some men might jump into that freedom and feed themselves with a hand wrapped around a tavern wench, however that was not Sargent Briggs. Did he dive into his work to feed a litter of kids or did he over work as he pined at their loss?
“Glad you could get here so quickly, Inspector.”
“Steam, is the master of distance, Sargent Briggs.” Morrison moved into the house as the Sargent filed in behind.
“The body is up on the top floor. It’s been near impossible to keep the lid on this one.” The Sargent said as they walked through the small entrance foyer towards the staircase against the far wall. A quick glance over his shoulder and Morrison made eye contact with the pup, the kid was right behind them, determination setting his pretty little jaw.
Morrison took the blackened stairs two at a time. Two, four, six, eight, landing. Boarders slouched in doorways or peered through doors held ajar, people saw everything and nothing in places like this.
“I assume you’ve questioned the residents?”
Two, four, six, eight, landing.
“Yes Inspector, only a few left who haven’t returned from shifts to follow up.”
“You interview them yourself?”
Two, four, six, eight, landing.
“I beg your pardon?”
Two, four, six, eight, landing.
“With her mother, sir. I will have the time to put into the case if that’s what you are asking.”
Two, four, six, eight, landing.
Morrison turned at the top landing. Behind him the Sargent diligently followed as did the pup.
“Its ‘bad’ sir,” came the Sargent’s puffed voice.
‘Bad’, bobbies thought any crime that had sliced up flesh was bad. Even here in Manchester most of ‘bad’ would be what a body looked like after it got pulled out of the river Ink, a bubbling admass of green crusted slime that changed the color of the body’s skin and ate away the hair if left in it. Morrison doubted anyone at the scene had seen ‘bad’. The Ripper was bad, he’d seen that. They hadn’t. Most men no matter how well trained couldn’t see past the blood of a crime like that to see the facts needed to track and catch a monster. He could, military service gave him that skill. You hold enough limbless and decapitated bodies and ‘normal’ moves to an entirely different benchmark.
For him humanity was a term used to express an aspiration, not a reality.
There’s a fledgling killer, fostered and trained by men so deep in the echelons of power catching him could be more dangerous and letting him run loose. Inspector Morrison and Master Brody head to the first crime scene in Manchester.
“Angel Meadow,” the cabbie called out as the carriage drew to a halt.
“Angel Meadows has the highest mortality rate in the country,” Master Brody said as he peered out the window. “The looms are said to go all night.”
Inspector Morrison looked across the bench at the pup, his newly acquired and unwanted ‘go fetch boy’. He’d been regaled with facts throughout the train trip from London to Manchester, and now on the carriage ride to the crime scene. No doubt a nervous blathering the kid needed to get sorted. Well he’d been given pups before and he knew exactly how to get rid of them.
“Here’s a fact for you pup, poor Mancunians who can only afford sleeping space, sleep back to back on the floor in a room with strangers. The thing is they have to do it naked to avoided spreading lice from their clothes. Any guesses at the unwanted pregnancy rate?”
The pup went red and his pale fine fingers gripped the brown leather satchel strap that pressed across his young all too skinny chest.
Ha, it turned out making the kid go scarlet beat fact sharing hands down.
Morrison collected his hat from the bench beside him.
“Stay in the cab.” It would be the kid’s first crime scene and they wouldn’t have called him up from London if it wasn’t going to be serious. He may not have wanted a go-fetch-boy and was annoyed that he now had one underfoot but he would not traumatize the kid.
The pup straightened, “Absolutely not.”
Morrison barked out a laugh before he could stop himself. “For fuck sake grow some balls ‘absolutely not’” he mimicked. The kid was going to be a laughing stock if he kept that up.
The pup went tense. “I resent your…”
Morrison held up his hand, “Just grow a pair. No one talks like that on the street and that is where we work. You want respect don’t dish out indignant little Molly statements. Now stay in the cab.”
“You don’t have to worry about me Inspector,” the boy said with all the earnestness those unsoiled by life seemed to have. “I’ve seen more than you might imagine.”
“As I might imagine?” Morrison swore under his breath. “What I can imagine you don’t want to know.”
This snippet is part of the Weekend Writing Warriors 8 sentence snippet that is shared by a group of amazing writers every Sunday. I hope you enjoy it and click the link HERE to find other writers. This is the beginning of Painted Trust, a Historical Thriller Romance due for release 27th Feb 2018.
The heroine sees the hero for the first time. Edith has just entered the hero’s home for the first time, as a patient wails in the background from the surgery at the back of the house. She’s late and they want her to get started straight away.
The howls increased in volume taking up residence through the house as if the wild winds had slipped under the front door and joined them.
Double doors at the far right flung open hitting the walls on either side. Clap. Clap.
The two burst of syncopated thunder, echoed through the air as a stallion of a man strode into the foyer.
Cowardice legs took an involuntary step backwards .
I just came across a great New York Times piece on the mail service in the Victorian era. It’s full of trivia: for example, did you know that in 1889 London, mail was delivered TWELVE TIMES A DAY? Read this:
In Victorian London, though service wasn’t 24/7, it was close to 12/6. Home delivery routes would go by every house 12 times a day — yes, 12. In 1889, for example, the first delivery began about 7:30 a.m. and the last one at about 7:30 p.m. In major cities like Birmingham by the end of the century, home routes were run six times a day.
“In London, people complained if a letter didn’t arrive in a couple of hours,” said Catherine J. Golden, a professor of English at Skidmore College and author of “Posting It: The Victorian Revolution in Letter Writing” (2009).
And, not unlike us, most Victorian letter writers seemed more concerned about getting a rapid response than a long one. “Return of post” was an often-used phrase, requesting an immediate response, in time for the next scheduled delivery that day.
This snippet is part of the Weekend Writing Warriors 8 sentence snippet that is shared by a group of amazing writers every Sunday. I hope you enjoy it and click the link HERE to find other writers.
This is the beginning of Painted Trust, a Historical Thriller Romance due for release 27th Feb 2018.
The heroine, Edith Appleby, is in a desperate situation. A killer supported by unimaginably powerful men, is after her. Edith’s chances of surviving are very slim. But she has a plan and it starts with taking up a position with Edinburgh’s forensic surgeon’s, Dr. Anthony Vaughn.
Wind swept clouds smudged the sky and a relentless, tenacious wind pressed against her front. Edith leaned forward, her body weight helping to propel her onward. It was as if the wind sought to halt her progress, as if it desperately tried to encourage her to turn back, to forget her plans and flee as far and as fast as she could from a city that held certain death. She’d run once before and it hadn’t worked, this time she would make sure that when she ran, she would run off the edge of the earth.
At number forty-eight Surgeon’s Square Edith closed her eyes and took a slow breath, then another; steeled herself for the task ahead.
You can do this.
Edith opened her eyes and before doubt made her change her mind, lifted the icy door-knocker and hit it against the black, glossy wood. Three hard knocks vibrated through her hand and rang out down the street. It was a baton thumping on castle gates; it was an undeserving request for refuge or perhaps, much like her heart, it was the sound of hope beating frantically against the odds.
For those of you interested in my next book release, I have a spin off series coming your way, that’s ominously gothic; An Erotic Thriller Romance Series called The Painted Sisters. Be warned it really is very, very dark.
A WOMAN RIPE WITH DARK, SENSUAL SECRETS FLEES FOR HER LIFE … A BRILLIANT MAN ENCASED IN THE MACARBE WORLD OF THE DEAD AND DYING WHO WANTS HER … A FLEDGLING KILLER TESTS HIS WINGS … AND AN INSPECTOR WITH HIS UNLIKELY ASSISTANT START TO HUNT THE KILLER DOWN.
It is a dark, macabre and Gothic world that Miss Edith Appleby flees as a man who no longer wants her alive hires a groomed killer to do the job. But Edith has a plan, it requires a forged medical degree, one she plans on stealthily acquiring from the dangerously alluring Dr. Anthony Vaughn, Edinburgh’s most eminent forensic surgeon.
Never had a woman climbed under his skin and burrowed so deep as his new staff member, Miss Edith Appleby. She carried a light that banished the darkness creeping into his soul. It had been a long time since he thought he could trust someone, since he let anyone close, she clearly had secrets but how bad could they really be?
Inspector Morrison and his newly acquired assistant, Master Brody, are assigned to a case officials fear is the Ripper returned or a copycat killer. Neither are surprised at the mode of killing, they have seen his tests and trials fished out of the Thames and know he’s just getting started. Moreover, bigger powers are at play behind the killings; men of power with networks in every branch of public office, every political party and every prominent family tree; men who may be impossible to find and impossible to stop.
‘Holland takes readers once again on a tantalizing tour through the darker side of Victorian England…’ ~ RTBookReviews 4 STARS HOT for The Painted Heart prequel to PAINTED TRUST
Images above part of Sarah Moon’s fashion photography, partial of book cover by Hang Le, gif old black and white movie…
Well it’s a week since launching The Painted Heart and a few reviews have come in:
“Officially the best book yet!! – Best book by Elsa Holland so far! I love how she can create a world that sucks you in instantly and never lets you go. I found myself reading this at every opportunity, and thinking about it when I wasn’t.” Amazon Reviewer . “Oh my! This book is so good that you just don’t want to leave the world that Elsa Holland creates. Its my favourite book so far, and I say so far because I think this author is going to keep surprising me and I can’t wait. Overall the book is a sublime mix of gothic, sensual and clandestine overtones – it’s a must read.” Amazon Reviewer . “This is a marvelous addition to the Velvet Basement Series. Each story captures your attention and the sensual journey to a happy ending makes these books a pleasure to read again and again. Enjoy!” Amazon Reviewer . “This is easily the best book of this series. The world of the Velvet Basement explores different areas of sexual interest. This book includes living canvases, living art – full body tattoos – that are owned and shown off to other wealthy collectors. The Painted Heart is the first book with a plot that extends outside the kink and the couple and the first book to include a mystery. Both are wonderful.” Amazon Reviewer
I have had a promotion for The Bound Heart running which is doing well and generating interest in both The Veiled Heart and The Painted Heart which is great. Best rankings so far have been:
The Bound Heart:
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5 Free in Kindle Store
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Romance > Gothic <3
The Painted Heart: #16 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Romance > Gothic #17 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Gothic #21 in Books > Romance > Gothic
The Veiled Heart:
#17 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Romance > Gothic
#18 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Gothic
#22 in Books > Romance > Gothic
I think many readers felt here was a big difference in story type and focus between The Veiled Heart and The Bound Heart, with the release of The Painted Heart I think that distance has been narrowed and the three come together as a more cohesive group as we re-visit The Velvet Basement, the world of The Collectors and re-meet characters again.
The Painted Heart also launches the world of The Painted Sisters and is a prequel for my second series The Painted Sisters. It will be 4 possibly 5 books to be read in order with a touch more thriller / mystery than The Velvet Basement. I am excited to already be a long way through Painted Trust, Edith’s story as she flees the dangers of a fledgling Skinner and places herself in danger in order to uncover the members of the resurrected outlawed sect of Collectors. I have Pinterest boards that give a mood and feel of what’s to come in that series. For those of you who have read The Painted Heart. The leather wolf mask Blackburn and Evie are looking at in The Velvet Basement belongs to our hero in the next book in the series called The Fur Heart . The next three in The Velvet Basement series as sinking a little deeper and darker into the world of human needs and desires. The stories I think show that we are beautiful in our complexities and broken-ness, in our secret wants and needs. We are infinitely more beautiful and whole with them as a part of our lives than pretending they are not a part of us.
A big thank you to those of you who read my work and support me. The creative process demands that we release what we create into the world to have a life of its own, to have it witnessed. It is a very rewarding process to get reviews and emails about the books, thank you!
This is taken from the beginning of the book where Elspeth / Miss James our heroine, has suddenly agreed to sign the contract Blackburn, our hero, has to make her his Painted Sister. A coveted prize to help him progress up the ranks of highly influential people called The Collectors
Posted to My Sexy Saturday click HERE to go to their website or HERE for facebook links to other writers
At the study they stopped.
“It’s not too late to head home. Pack your suitcase and scurry away.”
Her eyes narrowed, his mocking tone he knew would generate a rise out of her. “I don’t make my decisions lightly, Mr. Blackburn.”
A hum of satisfaction sat in his chest as he replied. “I’m pleased to hear it.” And he was. There were a few hurdles yet to be completed tonight that she would need some backbone for.
Leaning forward he opened the door. “After you.”
His beauty walked through with all the pride and poise of the aristocracy.
Blackburn followed her through, then closed and locked the door behind him. A quick glance confirmed the contract lay on his desk along with a pen. The contract which for all intents and purposes, would make Miss Elspeth James his.
I am a great believer in the role of beauty to shift consciousness.
The impact of a breathtaking vista, the perfection of a fern frond as it unfolds, the prisms of light as they shine for the smallest moment through a drop of rain. Beauty acts on us like displays of the human spirt; which are profoundly moving, inspiring and highly charged. Beauty I feel, hits us as hard but deep under the surface. It’s like when you are in the presence of perfect form, when the mathematics align and the whole is at the same time so perfectly natural, something inside you aligns with it and starts to shift to that frequency.
Karin Weber writes:
Amid so many insecurities in the world today, Małgorzata Chodakowska uses the uncompromising nature of her works to arrive at a sense of a security. Her medium is wood. usually from uprooted trees. The wood grains from the tree trunks of basswood, pear. cherry and oak come alive and follow her as she removes layers of wood to reveal larger-than-life sized ﬁgures. neo-realistic nude ﬁgures. clad ﬁgures, and busts – a process whereby the wood seems to shed its skin. the wood itself appears to be turned inside out. The ﬁgures are a continuation of the growth of the trees themselves. sprouting ﬁrst from the earth and then ﬁnding themselves rooted within the artist and her dreams, expectations and demands. her self image and her personal experiences. Behind the daily passions which remain hidden for most of us. the artist reveals what really moves people. as she exposes the timeless beauty of the creation of a human being
Her works are a romantic phenomenon in our present time. a time in which countless artists reject beauty in the name of modernity and denounce it as a “bad habit”. And what a great mistake that is! After all, beauty is a most basic need for all of us. read more here
Naturally given what I write, I think love is a form of beauty and the body a form of art. In The Painted Heart and in the subsequent series of The Painted Sisters, the body as a canvas and a form of living art is explored. In The Bound Heart I touch on the dichotomy between nudity in art and in life, the grey zone of porn and eroticism. Chodakowska uses the human form often naked or clad in ‘the wet look’ to fully show form and shape. There is a deep seated sensuality that comes from nature, through the wood, and often encased in metal. Elemental as it shifts us into our own natures.
Tutt Arts writes:
Chodakowska lifts her craftsmanship in wood and bronze to the magical world of experience in which the balance between beauty and perfection delivers the most beautiful tension. Her angelic figures radiate an paradise type authority, intriguing and most irresistibly attractive. The suggestion of perfection, the challenging energy of an equally powerful as subdued seduction. Her work is obviously highly respected in nowadays top sculpture art market. Chodakowska studied sculpture art at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw (1985). She continued her study at the Art Academy in Vienna (1988). In 1991, Chodakowska completed her dissertation in Vienna (Bruno Gironkoli). She has been honored with the highly selective granted ‘Masterclass Award ☞’. Read more here.
The Painted Heart is getting another postponement I am sorry to say.
I was planning to release later this month but it looks like that is more likely March 2017.
As consolation I am about 65-70% through Painted Trust which follows on from Painted Heart in the world of The Painted Sisters. It is part of a 4 book Historical Erotic Thriller series. If my rather hectic life permits I should have that out within a reasonable time after The Painted Heart releases.
My cover designer Hang Le is busy working on some wonderful branding for the new series which I hope to share with you shortly. Below is a peek, we are still fine tuning so still largely under wraps.
I also have plans for 3 more books in The Velvet Basement series. Be warned they are getting a bit darker. I have started the 4th book in the series, it is called The Fur Heart, (a Little Red Riding Hood theme). This series is really allowing me to explore the beauty of our dark secret selves and how that is often a symbol or metaphor of something more common in life or society. The Veiled Heart had neo-feminist themes, The Bound Heart held ideas of how we are constrained on the inside by our past, the role of art, the courage needed to live your passions. The Painted Heart again deals with neo Feminist themes around ownership, self-sacrifice and how freedom often is found outside of convention.
The other books in the series book 5: The Caged Heart (a Bluebeard theme) and book 6: The Silent Heart ( A Little Mermaid Theme). Again Hang Le has designed some gorgeous covers… below a sneak peek at The Fur Heart.
I think we can all agree that tattoos have gone viral.
There is something very fundamental about choosing your symbols. They are our protectors, our journey markers, our identifiers and our story.
Whatever the reason you get a tattoo, ultimately it is a symbol of something which has a meaning to you. Being tattooed I think is us wearing our symbols on the outside. Equally and ironically, this makes our inside world and our life markers ( the things that often only those closest to us knew) a highly visible outer cloak. Perhaps something which is overriding an even deeper layer of self or maybe freeing us up to live a more authentic life with our values and life experiences openly expressed. Some people I have spoken to mention an increase in their sense of personal power, their belief in themselves.
I was attracted to the idea of writing about tattoos in what is now becoming the series called The Painted Sisters, early 2011 ( yes it has taken me ages to write the first one, what can I say life!!). As I started to work with a story around a surgery in Edinburgh, I found* that my Victorian heroine had extensive oriental tattoos and was OCD about buttoning up and scrubbing down. Hiding them of course given her time in history.
*Yes your characters surprise you all the time…’What you’re tattooed?? How come, you’re a Victorian woman…. What? They did that, then they what??? OMG let me write that down.’ Yeah that’s how it can go.
As a romance writer I liked the idea of exploring how this would affect intimacy. For example, when we are tattooed extensively like a full torso, we will never really be naked again. We will always be dressed to the eyes of a lover. In fact with time we would forget what we looked like under our symbolic overlay. But equally the magic of our experiences, symbols and identifiers rippling over our muscles would add a beauty and life that is not seen in someone who is not tattooed.
I have talked with many people who are extensively tattooed and some tattoo artists. I found that it is different for everyone what draws them to the art and what direction they choose to go, i.e. small, large, tribal contemporary…. What I did find was very common was that it often sparks off a burning passion to get more.
I’d love to know what you think about tattoos.
If you have time do the survey below and leave comments you’ll make me a happy woman.
Early tattooed – ‘painted’ – women were publicly seen in the Circus
The circus as we know it started in the later part of the 18th century, in 1768, but one of the earliest tattooed women was shown in 1907 she is in the gallery below. The name tatau is actually form the Tahitian language and was a result of James Cook’s expeditions there. Tattooing became very popular in the early 19th century. Initially it was mainly sailors and the criminal class but by the later half of the 19th century it was also popular in the aristocratic and upper classes in Britain and across most of Europe.
vintage no information
1956 Carol Reed Film Trapeze
vintage no information
vintage circus postcard
Mrs. M. Stevens Wagner, one of the earliest Tattooed Ladies that performed in the circus sideshows as a freak, 1907
Madame Alina Forlani
Nude woman in aquatic costume of pearls. Photographed by Lucien Walery c. 1920
Thora and Nellie joking with clown, Travelling Circus, c.1918
His breathing was slowing. Edith was cradled in the crook of his arm, layers of wool and buttons holding her in, but her hair was loose and wild, a mass of thick, inky satin. There was a soft sheen of sweat on her forehead and between her lips and nose. It made him shake his head.
“What?” her voice was wonderfully croaky.
She got that little crease between her brows. He could imagine watching that crease deepen with age. But from the stubborn look on her face there would be no answer to why she insisted on keeping her clothes on. Instead she rolled closer to him making her breasts press the side of this chest.
Her finger ran over his skin in slow strokes and circles as she looked him over.
His arm tucked her tighter against him and waited for the inevitable questions.
“When did you get this done?”
She traced the small tattoo over his heart. It was of a scalpel, bone saw and needle. All three were wrapped together with a suture tie coming out of the eye of the needle.
“No wait I know, you were a young graduate full of bluster about saving the world with the tools of your new trade.”
That wasn’t the usual question. He went to sit up and she moved her torso over his keeping him down. What was it with women that they couldn’t just enjoy the moment?
“Come on when did you do it? Am I right?”
She was right. Edith was very astute if not tactful.
There was a touch of irritation tightening his jaw. Why couldn’t she ask if it hurt? He liked answering that question.
He looked up at the bed’s canopy. And she tugged his chin down so their eyes met.
Hers were so earnest, sad almost.
He sighed at her purposefully, scowled in mock warning.
But it didn’t make her back down it just made her eyes soften a little. Damn, now he was smiling. He was an idiot.
What was it about her that made him wander into areas he had no interest of going into?
“When I started my first position at the hospital. And yes I naively thought I would save the world.”
She didn’t laugh like he expected, instead she looked at him harder. Maybe she thought she saw what his failure had done to him. But she could never really know what it was to lose so many on the operating table. Goodness was no amulet. Justice never rolled in the door with the gurney and it certainly didn’t reside with him and his skills no matter how hard he’d honed them.
Vaughn reached out and tried to undo a button.
“So when did you become an all buttons done up girl?”
Her hand pushed his away and that scowl returned as she sat up and started to twist that inky mass back into a bun.
The morning air was cold and starchy crisp. Vaughn lifted the collar of his coat, placed his top hat on his head and started down the street. Within a few steps, his feet were numb. Mist puffed out of his mouth with each breath and across the road the grass was covered in frost. His lungs felt like there were freezing from the inside. He tilted his head up, a man should look to the heavens when they favored him. Above, the clouds were blueish-grey, they muddied the sky with oncoming sleet.
It was glorious.
Last night after he’d seen her to her room, he’d slept like the world was rocked in the bosom of a benevolent god. A deep boneless sleep where every muscle was lax with satisfaction.
This morning as his eyes opened to a dimly lit room, her taste was still on his tongue. You didn’t do that to a man and waltz away. Oh no.
But with a woman like her, strategy was going to be everything.