HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: So, handwriting. I am always afraid to send notes to people They email me back and write things like," Uh, Hank? I got your note. Thank you, but what did it say?"
My handwriting is astonishingly bad. Truly. Sometimes I can't even read my own book notes. And it's always the crucial word that's incomprehensible. Like: Idea! Make sure Jane and Jake shlowign. Huh? And I bet it was such a good idea..
And then, whew.She decided to tell us about tattoos.
For Sheila, whoselife is about ink, tattoos opened a whole new world. And a whole new meaning for Ink.
by Sheila Lowe
In my life, “ink” is a word with a variety of meanings. As a handwriting analyst I study the trail of ink on paper, often to determine whether a signature is genuine or forged. In other cases I follow the trail to develop a personality profile based on the lines and curves the writer leaves as s/he moves across the page.
In my other life, as a mystery writer, ink represents the ideas I scribble on their way to a story. And in Inkslingers Ball, the fifth entry in my forensic handwriting mysteries, I’ve added another dimension—skin ink.
After Poison Pen, Written in Blood, Dead Write, and Last Writes, I was running out of non-cozy “write” puns for titles. Then, while ordering supplies online for my tattoo artist son, I came across an ad for a long-past convention called the Inkslingers Ball. If I’d been a cartoon character, a lightbulb would have flashed above my head, as in that instant I knew I had the title for my next book. I just had to build a story around it.
Erik, the aforementioned son, has many female clients, some of whom choose to mark the occasion of their fiftieth birthday with their first tat, usually a dainty flower on an ankle or a dolphin on a shoulder. Most, though, are in their late teens or twenties and want something more elaborate, something that makes a statement.
One of my continuing characters, Annabelle Giordano, a troubled young teen who suffers from PTSD, provided the perfect segue into a story about tattoos.
When I told Erik what I was thinking, and asked what kind of tat might attract a girl like Annabelle, he immediately replied, “a sugar skull,” and drew one of the glam variety, which I used in the book.
He also offered to give me a tattoo of my very own, which I politely (or not) declined. I don’t even have pierced ears. His next offer was more acceptable—he would take me to the next tattoo expo being held at the Pomona Fairgrounds. And he did.
The sight of mostly naked people lying prone on tables out in the open, getting inked; the thunderous sounds of Aztec drumming; sweaty Pomona in midsummer—my first tattoo convention made it into the book.
Inkslingers Ball is an experiment. It’s the first book in the series not told strictly from the point of view of handwriting analyst Claudia Rose. This time, much of the story is seen through the eyes of her LAPD detective lover, Joel Jovanic, and also Annabelle. It will be interesting to see how my readers react to the change. So far, I’m getting good ink.
HANK: Hmm. Would you ever get a tattoo? Do you have one? We'll never tell..unless you want us to!