Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Tattoo and a Review, Featuring Nigel Bird

Bill dropped by Malefic Tattoos recently to continue his oriental tattoo. It's a huge custom piece by Fabien they've been working on since sometime last summer. While getting inked Bill enjoyed reading Nigel Bird's short fiction collection, With Love and Squalor.

Bill said that all the stories were completely engaging and got his interest right away.

"The second story, Fisher of Men, was my favourite," Bill says, "The ending was such a surprise, it caught me off guard. Like a complete u-turn in the story I didn't see coming."

Bill says he would give Nigel's book a big two thumbs up.

Bill is an average guy who's normally not a big fiction reader, but I like to think I've led him to the dark side with Nigel Bird's tales of noir. Bill wears a suit and tie nine to five and enjoys spending time with his family at the cottage on the weekends. And although he might look like a bad ass with all that ink, he's not a rootin' tootin' son of a bitchin'cold blooded killer, like The Schofield Kid in the movie Unforgiven. Neither is he Yakuza as he was recently accused of while on vacation in Jamaica.

Yeah, no kidding. I guess the first indication of that would be the fact that he's A WHITE GUY! Some people are just not the sharpest fish in the sky.

Bill's tattoo is in honour of his two sons who are half Chinese and born the year of the tiger and the year of the dragon. There's still a few hours of work to do on the dragon--some fire background and a bit more rendering on the scales.

Bill has so many hours into this tattoo that he'd rather not discuss it. He's still trying to figure out what he's going to do with his Thursday nights once the tattoo is finished. But, seeing as how he's got lots of skin left, I'm sure we can give him some ideas.

Unlike the artist in Nigel's powerful story Fisher of Men in With Love And Squalor, this art doesn't wash away in the rain. You'll have to read that story to know what I'm talking about. By the way, it's brilliant.

I love the way Nigel writes, there's a density in his stories that you can sink your teeth into. And I enjoy all those British expressions and profanities reminding me of my Irish roots; curses like "the wee shites" just give me a warm fuzzy like nothing else. One of my favourite stories in this collection is No Pain, No Gain. It has just the right amount of grit and raw intensity.

Be sure to visit Nigel Bird at his blog Sea Minor. He runs a cool interview series over there called Dancing With Myself.

Friday, January 27, 2012

A Tattoo and a Review, Featuring Chris Rhatigan

Say hello to Vicky. She's one of our favourite customers at Malefic Tattoos. Fabien is finishing up her amazing full colour octopus tattoo, while Vicky enjoys Chris Rhatigan's new collection of short fiction called, Watch You Drown

Vicky says that Chris's book is great. She particularly liked Gun By His Bed and Service With A Smile.

I loved Service With A Smile myself which I read when it was originally published in Yellow Mamma Magazine. Chris has penned some great descriptions, like this one: her voice like a woodchipper grinding a box of silverware. I can just feel my eye wanting to twitch at that sound.

Chris is a master at the art of suspense and his stories are chock full of it like a warm fully loaded semi-automatic. Love how he describes his book over at Paul D. Brazill's blog, You Would Say That, Wouldn't You? as "a collection of short crime fiction that will leave you lost, sad, and craving alcohol to numb the pain." Well said, Chris. After that first story, In The Hard Nowhere, broke my heart, a couple of glasses of Merlot drown mine quite nicely. Make sure you check out the interview with Chris over at Paul's place.

Vicky's tattoo was finally completed during her latest three hour sit. Overall the tattoo took about half a dozen sessions and somewhere in the vicinity of twenty hours.

Vicky said she noticed something very peculiar that's happened to her since getting her tattoo; her next door neighbour got all twitchy is no longer speaking to her. Which just goes to show that people are strange animals. I told Vicky she should start making gang signs at her neighbour to really freak her out.

I'm sure the blue haired old ladies that I tattoo might be able to teach her some. I've got an entire crew of grannies who come in regularly for some inking. Word go out about me at the seniors home. Or Vicky could just take care of her neighbour the way the sales clerk in Service With A Smile took care of his annoying customer. But you'll have to read the story to find out what that was.

After you download Watch You Drown for a mere 99 cents, make sure you visit Chris over at his blog Death By Killing.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Tattoo and a Review, Featuring Heath Lowrance

Eric was back at Malefic Tattoos again today for some more pain. That makes three times this week (see previous blog post for his full leg tribal tattoo). Today, I started a smallish pin-up in a martini glass tattoo on the inside of his thigh while he read stories from Heath Lowrance's awesome collection, Dig Ten Graves.

Eric enjoyed the twisted little story titled Incident on a Rain-Soaked Corner. Which was my personal favourite, (along with It Will All Be Carried Away). When he was finished the story, Eric said, "The bastard!" Yeah, my thoughts exactly. The character in this tale is a real sadistic son of a bitch. And the story is delicious. According to Eric it's really good.

Sadistic is not a word that should ever be used in the same sentence as tattoo artist, though. We make it hurt just as much as it needs to and not a damn bit more than that.

This is the second pin-up I've done on Eric; did a classic Al Buell, about a year ago (see picture below). Eric is one of our long time customers, we've been tattooing him for 13 years and he belongs to our sick little monkey club. He's one of the very few people who can send us a text and get an appointment--everyone else has to come in and give a deposit. So that's one perk of being a sick little monkey VIP.

I first heard Heath Lowrance reading Incident on a Rain-Soaked Corner on Sound Cloud which was amazing. Make sure you check that out. Heath has a great reading voice and could probably make a career out of reading bed time stories.

Heath is a brilliant writer and a cool guy. His book The Bastard Hand is quite an impressive debut. It has something like over twenty, five star reviews on Amazon, not bad for a white boy from Detroit. Click below to see the book trailer.

He also has an intense zombie series called, Deadland USA, and he writes some wicked crazy-ass westerns.

Eric will be back soon to continue working on the pin-up on his leg, and to read stories from some more fantastic crime writers. I'll be sure to post a finished picture of his latest tattoo.

In the meantime, you're going to dig Dig Ten Graves. It's an absorbing read, a masterful psychological suspense, with aspects reminiscent of The Twilight Zone. Be sure to visit Heath Lowrance at his blog Phyco-Noir and tell him I said, hey dude.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

British Noir, Tattoos, & Julie Morrigan

Julie Morrigan in a relatively new kid in town who's quickly making a name for herself in the crime fiction genre. I'm so impressed with Julie's writing I'd even call her the Queen of British Noir. Her writing is like being kissed by a freight train, it just bowls you over. Her latest short story collection Show No Mercy is one I devoured quickly, so delicious are her dark tales.

So I brought my iPad into the tattoo shop today to share Julie's collection of mayhem with one of our long time customers and good friend, Eric. Reading is a great way to distract yourself from the discomfort of getting a tattoo worked on, although Eric said the twenty-seven needles going into his skin today "feels nice". He was also thrilled to be featured on my blog and perhaps be famous for something other than midget donkey porn on the internet. I'm not making that up either, it's something I heard.

So while reveling in the needles penetrating his flesh, Eric enjoyed Show No Mercy and shared how much he liked Julie's writing and the irony of the stories. He said the key points he learned were "to make sure not to kill your hostages". Yeah, that's something I always try to remember myself. Make sure they still have a clear airway after duct tapping their mouths, watch for that pesky chocking on vomit thing that can sometimes occur.

Eric's tattoo design is a reverse tribal that covers his entire right leg from hip to ankle that Fabien, artist extraordinaire of Malefic Tattoos designed. Today was the second session. His first session involved close to three hours of drawing the design on his skin and then an hour of quick outline to retain the stencil (shown in the picture on the right)

Eric says about Show No Mercy, "All the characters are down trodden, in one way or another, that leads to outcomes you don't see coming." That's some good British noir right there!

Show No Mercy is a brilliant collection guaranteed to make your heart pound. I particularly enjoyed reading The Birthday Present; about a guy who decides he needs a girlfriend so he calls an escort service looking for one. Bloody Little Hooligans was another one that stood out for me. I also loved The McGraw Tales in this collection. It was like a classic 1940s black and white noir movie running in my head.

Show No Mercy is available on Amazon Kindle for a mere 99 cents. It's worth much more than that, so you're getting it at a steal.

Julie has a couple of full length novels available in addition to her short story collections.
For all Julie Morrigan's books, check out her Amazon page.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Review: Bloodline by Stan Rogal

Young girls hitchhiking along a lonely stretch of highway are turning up dead.

Salesman Peter Donaldson travels this same highway and becomes concerned when he hears about the murders. Then one day he stops for someone at the side of the road—a tough, fifteen-year-old girl from an abusive family named Lynda—and gives her a ride. A set of circumstances leads Lynda to become the babysitter to Peter and his wife Dorothy’s children.

But then another body turns up. And when a witness identifies his car and license plate as the one who picked up the girl, suspicion falls on Peter. Now he’s being investigated by the police. Thrown into the mix is an unscrupulous bitch of a news anchor with her own troubled past, hell bent on painting Peter in the worst possible light.

Bloodline is a quirky, strangely compelling story by Canadian author Stan Rogal. It’s a story about a marriage in a fishbowl, caught in the midst of a murder investigation. Then there’s the other aspect of the story, that of Lynda, the fifteen-year-old girl, her abusive home life and her desperate struggle for love. In many ways these two characters are reflections of each other as they both cope with their own private pain. But things take a really weird turn for the worst when Peter discovers a cape, a top hat, and a sword-cane in a steamer trunk belonging to a dead relative rumored to be a killer, and begins wearing them.

I suspect the inspiration for this story came from Canada’s “Highway Of Tears”, a stretch of road in northern B.C. where hitchhiking is common, and since the late 60s, has been the local of a number of unsolved murders and disappearances of young women. Although the town in the story isn’t actually named, the author makes reference to mountains in the scenery on the highway where his character Peter travels.

Rogal has an original voice, and the characters are interesting and memorable. I did find the ambiguity of the ending a little unsatisfying. And yet, I thought of the characters long after the ending, speculating on their outcome. I’m guessing this was the author’s intent all along, to get the reader to think. Some people will like this but I’m certain it might serve to annoy others.

Based on the behaviours and attitudes of the characters I think I know what the eventual outcome is, but like the author, I’m not telling. That you’ll have to figure out for yourself. Ultimately, as odd as this novel was, I quite liked it.

Get it on Amazon

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Ink, Skin & Unpaper

Matt was back today at Malefic Tattoos for some more punishment from Fabien, artist extraordinaire. While getting his grim reaper worked on, Matt read Dani Amore's short story on kindle, Scale of Justice.

Amore is an author I've had on my to-read list for a while. Her rise on the Amazon charts with a number of recent releases has been impressive. So when her short story, Scale of Justice, went free for a while on Amazon, I had to grab it. And because I needed to know what all the fuss was about with Dani Amore, I read it immediately.

It's no mystery why Amore's books are so popular, she's a damn good writer and Scale of Justice is an impressive story that I completely enjoyed. The title of the story is quite appropriate. But you'll have to read it to know what I'm talking about.

Matt liked the story, but was concerned why everything I give him to read is so violent. Well Matt, like they say down in Mexico, it's "mucho bettero". They also say, "Die Canadians, die!" (but that's another story).

I think I've successfully brought him over to the dark side with his reading though. Matt said, Scale of Justice was, "really good and hard hitting. Nice and violent."

So far Matt has had three sessions on his tattoo. The next session will focus on angel designs around the sides of his head. We will check back next week on the progress, and have Matt read another story of mayhem and suspense.

In the meantime, check out Dani Amore's story Scale of Justice. And when you're done enjoying that, be sure to get her book Dead Wood for a mere 99 cents. The first chapter of the book is at the end of Scale of Justice. I promise you're going to love Amore.

Visit Dani Amore's website for more info on her writing.