Saturday, March 3, 2012

A Tattoo And A Review With My Daughter Sam

Today my very own daughter Samantha came in for a tattoo. Actually, she was already here. She works with me at the shop full time. Which is great since she just moved out of the house and into her first apartment with her boyfriend.

Sam is working on her apprenticeship at Malefic Tattoos and going to art school part time. This spring we expect to get a tattoo machine in her hand.
She's been doing a lot of drawing in the meantime, creating some kick-ass flash designs and showing off her mad artistic skills. Mamma is proud.

While I'm working on her tattoo, Sam is distracting herself by reading my ebook short story Scarlet Sins, the prequel to my thriller, The Truth About Scarlet Rose. The story is about an unwed teenage mother in the 1960s who gets a job as a burlesque entertainer, but when she marries an older cheating, boozing, gambling man who makes promises he can’t keep, she's eventually driven to murder.

Sam says, "The story is good. And I'd say that even if you weren't my mother."

Ah, isn't she sweet? It was cool to be able to discuss parts of the story with her. When she laughed at the part where the character, Charlie, witnesses a three car accident on the street and lays down beside the wreckage faking injuries and later getting an insurance settlement, I was able to let her (and now you) in on some inside information; that was a true story. A con artist I knew many years ago did that very thing and got away with it.

Sam read her first book at six months old. Well, she didn't actually read it, she looked at the pictures. But I remember her being fascinated with books. I used to read her fairytales from my own story book from when I was a kid but when I'd get to the part about the handsome prince asking for the princess to marry him and live happily ever after, I'd change the ending. The princess would tell him that first she needed to go to college and establish her career and then she'd think about marrying him. I did make a point of finding her bedtime stories with strong female characters like Robert Munsch's The Paper Bag Princess and Kate Duke's Aunt Isabel Tells A Good One If you're a parent of young children looking for a good story, I highly recommend those two.

When Sam was a little older, like nine or ten, I read Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass Trilogy to her at night. Another strong heroine in this story. I'm not sure if it was Sam or myself that liked it more, but it's an awesome series.

Today, Sam is a ferocious reader. I've told her she should have her own book blog. She's read the entire Harry Potter series twice. She had the fantastic idea that we should read The Help at the same time and then go see the movie together. It was an amazing book by the way. She recently read John Steinbeck's classic, East of Eden just because it was so long and she knew it would last a good while.

The pin-up picture on the right is the tattoo I did last year on Sam's leg. It was the first tattoo I did on her and it took a lot of convincing on her part. What finally made me give in was the thought that if my mother, who passed away when I was in my early twenties, had been a tattoo artist how much it would mean to me now to have her art on my skin. Still it wasn't easy to tattoo my own daughter. I tend to hold back a bit, worried about hurting her. Even today as I was working on a flower design on her chest (the other tattoo she has by me), I was really hesitant.

At one point she says to me, "Mom, are you even touching the needle to my skin, cause I don't feel a thing?"

"Probably not," I said, laughing. And I know it only makes it worse for her when I have to go over the same line again because I don't make it solid enough the first time. Anyone else I don't give a shit. Suck it up buttercup. But my baby? It's always the most difficult tattoo for me. Especially on the chest. Hurts like a son of a bitch.

The picture on the right is Sam at age four, posing in a flower girl dress that I made when I had a bridal shop many years ago. Today, she's eighteen, turning nineteen next month, and all grown up and getting tattooed. On her feet she's got two tattoos started; old school hearts with banners, one that says Mom and the other says Dad. Fabien is doing those because I said there's no way I can tattoo her feet. My foot hurt so bad I screamed in my husband's face. But then again, I'm a bit of a baby anyway. So no surprise there. I'm actually scheduled to get a matching one on my foot that says Sam. And I won't make it easy on my husband, unfortunately for him, who'll be doing the inking.

The funny thing is, women coming in to get tattooed say things like "If I can go through child birth then I can get a tattoo." Well that's probably true for them. For me, however, giving birth to Sam was a picnic compared to some of the tattooing I've had done. The hospital has the best drugs after all. Got those wonderful nurses to hook me up with some of their primo stock.

This is Sam at age three. She cut her bangs herself. I giggled and told her it was beautiful. At daycare the next day her stupid teacher told her she shouldn't cut her own bangs. I watched the confusion play out on her face and I could have slapped that teacher. It's so hard to give your babies up to the world. But I like to think I taught her how to deal with opposition. Today if you told her you didn't like her hair, she'd probably say "Fuck you, it's not yours to like." And she's had some unique hair styles since she's been four. It's been pink, purple, platinum, black, neon green dreads and now, a cute bob. So yeah, fuck you if you don't like the hair. She's even got her tongue split, but shhh, we won't talk about that.

I'm so happy that Sam is not afraid to be who she is, and not blindly follow the status quo with the rest of the sheep. Her hair styles over the years have only proved this.

This is my Mom and I at about the same age. I know this might sound cheesy, but I like to think my mother had a hand in sending Sam down from heaven to me. I was a demon child, a spawn of Satan when I became a teenager; breathed fire and sprouted horns too. My mother used to say she hoped I did not have a daughter like me when I grew up. So I think she must have sent me Sam somehow, because Sam is like the daughter my mother always wanted me to be. And my mother loved me that much.

If you want to read Scarlet Sins, and The Truth About Scarlet Rose, I can't promise you that you'll like the mother in this story, nor how she treats her children. In fact, I'm certain you won't. She's got some serious demons and she unleashes them all in a violent fury between these deliciously dark pages. But I will promise you that it's a great read.

Oh, and if you're in the area, stop by later this year and Sam can give you a tattoo.


  1. What a great post!!! Your daughter is beautiful, Julia!

    1. Thanks April. Yes, I have to agree, she's beautiful. Inside and out :)

  2. Julia - that is such a wonderful post. Your daughter is amzing! I have a daughter much the same age and I'm so proud too that she is her own person and doesn't follow the crowd - that's what I've taught her since day 1. Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. That's great Fiona. Having a daughter is such a blessing. It's amazing to watch them grow up and be their own people :)

  3. That's a terrific post. You have a great family, Julia, and it's nice to see the apple didn't fall far from the tree.

    1. Thanks Heath. Yeah, she's got that creative thing going on :)

  4. What a lovely post. It's an insight into your family, yourself and most of all your values as a parent.
    Kinda makes me glad to know you.

  5. Ah, Graham, that made my night. Thanks :)

  6. Authors are humans, too. Who knew?

  7. Ha, yeah Ben, it's a strange thing for a crime writer especially with all that ice water in our veins :)