As part of my Guest blog series for authors and fellow bloggers I am proud to present another guest blog spot. Michael
Make sure you check outby Michael Pogach. Available 9-21-15 from Ragnarok Publications.
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Tattoo Rebellion by Michael Pogach
Hi, my name is Michael and I don’t have any tattoos.
This puts me in the apparent minority these days. It wasn’t that long ago that sporting visible ink was a definitive mark of rebellion. Today, however, tattoos are so ubiquitous that a character can hardly be classified as a badass if he or she doesn’t have tattoos.
Take Lisbeth Salander for example. Or the MacManus brothers in Boondock Saints.
What does any of this have to do with my novel The Spider in the Laurel?
I’m glad you asked.
While revising the third draft, I was shocked to find that MacKenzie, the badass half of my protagonist team, was sans tattoo. Naked. Armorless. It felt wrong. And I immediately set to remedying the matter. I spent hours researching tattoos. I looked at hundreds of pictures online. I stared – creepily, I’m sure – at every tattooed person who walked by at the park or the supermarket. I sought anything that would inspire me to design the perfect tattoo for my heroine.
I found nothing. Worse, I discovered that the idea of a tattoo – something so common among my students that it was virtually cliché – became antithetic to how I viewed MacKenzie. She is an outlaw. A revolutionary. She is anything but trite or conventional. I needed to change the rules.
I remembered an interview with either Margaret Weiss or Tracy Hickman, creators of Dragonlance. Whichever one it was being interviewed said something like: we were tired of Dungeons & Dragons campaigns where dragons were found around every corner and could be defeated by a pair of gully dwarves. To combat this, they made dragons rare, so rare that the first time one appears in the novels it is a true foe, terrifying and savage.
Strategy found, I went to work remaking MacKenzie’s world. In her militantly secular America, all churches have been demolished. Bibles and relics have been hunted down and destroyed. Religious icons of all kinds are absent. And tattoos are seen as such dangerous methods of decaling faith that all body art is illegal.
And what kind of tattoo would MacKenzie, and outlaw and wanted terrorist, have in this kind of world? Not one that could be seen walking down the street of course. But not tiny or subtle either. No, she would emblazon her faith on her flesh like this:
It could have been a pen and ink drawing done by a monastic illustrator. Two columns of flowing calligraphy covering her back, divided by the ridges and valleys of her spine.
Ward was transfixed. A moment passed before he was able to focus on the specific rather than the whole. The columns of text. Each numbered with Roman numerals. The Ten Commandments, he recognized, in King James English. It was exquisite. True artwork. Then he noticed what was missing.
Number six, across her right shoulder from spine to armpit, was blank. The Roman numeral VI, and nothing else.
Bonus points to whoever shouts out which commandment is missing…Yup, that’s it: Thou shalt not kill. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s pretty badass. And it proved to me a lesson I’d been taught in grad school. You don’t have to start from scratch to make a novel unique. Just find a way to turn expectation and convention around. Make them serve you. Because badasses, tattooed or not, don’t like rules anyway.
About the author:
Michael Pogach is the author of the sci-fi thriller The Spider in the Laurel. He began writing stories in grade school. He doesn’t remember these early masterpieces, but his parents tell him everyone in them died. He’s gained some humanity since then, and has been known to allow characters to survive his tales these days. You can find his stories in journals such as New Plains Review, Third Wednesday, and Workers Write, as well as his chapbook Zero to Sixty. He is hard at work on two more novels, countless more stories, and keeping his infant daughter from eating everything she can reach.
About the book:
In tomorrow’s America, religion – the foundation of Western civilization – is outlawed. Belief is the new enemy. Even a silent prayer can get you black-bagged.
Rafael Ward is a mythology professor, an expert in the Old World religions. Until the black-baggers come calling. They have a job for him, one he is not allowed to refuse. Forced to hunt down and destroy the artifacts he cherishes, Ward goes undercover as a Believer and smuggler. And before he knows it, he is following fugitive Hannah MacKenzie on a fool’s quest to France. Her plan is to find the legendary Vase of Soissons, a Dark Age relic prophesized to restore faith to the world.
In Paris, Ward is betrayed by his superiors who want the Vase’s power for themselves. His only chance to save himself is to come clean with MacKenzie and, together, find the Vase first.
Pursued through the cathedrals and catacombs of Europe, Ward and MacKenzie must battle their mistrust of each other to stay alive. And only within reach of their goal do they discover the Vase is not what they thought. With more than just their lives on the line, Ward and MacKenzie must choose between each other and the Vase, between belief and salvation.
The Spider in the Laurel is a kick-ass Indiana Jones meets Jason Bourne adventure, set in a world that blurs the line between V for Vendetta and American Gods.