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Literary Tattoos

June 2, 2014

IMG_5911I spent the weekend at the Alabama Phoenix Festival, my local sci-fi convention. This is the third year I’ve been a vendor there and I really enjoyed myself. I love to interact with fans, fans of all sorts of things. I was cosplaying Saturday and Sunday, so I got to talk to people about the things I’m a fan of and ask them about what they’re fans of. It was all very cool. There were lots of authors there as well, but since I was at my booth I didn’t get to go to any of the panels. Cosplay is one of the major ways that fans at conventions can show their love for their fandom, but there’s something that goes a step beyond even that.  Tattoos are the ultimate expression of admiration. You’re permanently marking your skin in order to express your admiration for something. I saw several fan tattoos this weekend and showed off my own new tattoo. Yep. I have a new tattoo. It’s based on Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway, which, if you’ve been following this blog for long, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of. I’ve read the book six times in the two years it’s been out. (I do that sometimes.) So, a month ago I went and got a tattoo inspired by the clockwork bees in the book. (There are clockwork bees in the book. And a mechanical book. And a protagonist named Joe Spork. And an octogenarian spy. It’s awesome!) Here is my Angelmaker tattoo:IMG_5698 memphis 016It’s actually my second book-inspired tattoo. The first was an illustration from Oliver Jeffers’ The Heart in the Bottle, which is a children’s book about coping with loss. I got it the week I found out my Dad had cancer and it helped me through the rest of that year and the years since. People get tattooed for all sorts of reasons, but literary tattoos have always interested me. Back in 2004 I heard about a project called Skin, which was a short story by Shelly Jackson. The thing about it was that it was never going to be published, as such. It was going to be tattooed, one word per person, onto people across the country. I have a friend who got a word. I applied, but by the time they got to me all the words had been given out. There have been hundreds of roundups of literary tattoos. Harper Collins even put out a book called The Word Made Flesh. (I submitted my bottle to that collection, but again, they were full up by that point.) There is just some books that get inside you and make a home there. And the amazing thing is that everyone is so different. There are some quotes that get tattooed over and over, “Not all those who wander are lost” comes to mind, but there are so many more that have never been duplicated and may never be. There is something amazing to me about that level of excitement over a book. Do you have any literary tattoos? Tell me all about them if you do!

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