To this day, I still have vivid memories of sitting in class as a twelve year old, scribbling skulls and lightning bolts onto my arms and legs before admiring them in any reflective surface I could find. I have always been intrigued by tattoos. I’m not sure why exactly, but something about them just fascinates me. Whether it’s the artwork itself or the way immaculately designed skin art clings to the body contours, it was inevitable that I would end up as a skinny 16 year old thrusting a jittery fistful of cash towards a terrifying man and swearing I was eighteen. So yes, I am tattooed myself and would be far more tattooed if finances allowed. And surprise, surprise suits of body art inked with mystical blood feature in my writing. In honour of the evolution that this often underappreciated craft has taken over the years, I thought I would take a brief adventure into the origins and folklore of the art.
Tattoos have appeared around the world and all through history, from the 5000 year old trendsetter Otzi the iceman through to identifiers of ancient and modern gang culture. They have also been known by many names like moko, cicatrix and keloid. The word tattoo, as they are now known by today, casts its origins back to the Samoan word “tatau”, meaning workmanlike. The term was first recorded in European texts by Joseph Banks, the botanist on James Cook’s Endeavour.
Methods of inscribing this art into flesh were not always been as relatively painless as they are now.
I say relatively purely in comparison to some of the more......let’s say primitive methods. Anyone who has had their stomach or underarm tattooed would surely agree with me that our modern methods are still far from pain free. One traditional style, which might I add is still practiced around the world by some hard mother f&^*ers, involved a single or small collection of ink soaked needles being hammered repeatedly into the flesh to form the designs. While that technique may not have you leaping out of your chair to have it done, I think I still find it preferable to the next one, which consisted of covering fine cotton in soot before stitching it through the flesh in patterns. As the cotton was pulled through, it would leave the soot behind, creating dark spots on the flesh. Ouch! Imagine a chest piece done like that.
I am also fascinated by the polarising aurora which surrounds tatts, whether it be the stigma which some people attach to them (see this stuff...crazy right??) or some of the ancient superstitions which follow them. The old sailor traditions are some of my personal favourites. I’m sure most people know about the anchor tattoo, which is synonymous with nautical culture, but what about the pig and the hen? For centuries, sailors tattoed the likeness of pig and a hen on their bodies. A strange choice right? Swines and chickens are certainly not considered the most avid of water going animals, but therein lay the point. They were seen as two of the few animals which couldn’t swim, so it was hoped that should the ship go down the almighty lord would gaze down upon them and take pity on the poor beasts, thus saving the sailor they were inked upon as well. Then there are the Bedouin tribes who employ a form of medical tattooing known as Dakkah in which certain parts of the body are tattooed in order to treat chronic pain. I would have loved to try and claim my hours in the tattooists’ chair on health insurance.
So whether it be an amazing work of art, a hilarious caricature or some bizarre saying scrawled in gothic script, I see beauty in all tattoos. Mind you though, not because I always like what the wearer has chosen, more because it is a pure expression of their personality, something they have selected to bear upon their skin for life and beyond. I thought I would finish with a quote, it’s a common one that I am sure you have come across before, but I think it is relevant.
“My body is my journal and my tattoos are my story.”
Genre: Contemporary/Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Warpath Print
Date of Publication: 30/11/14
ISBN: Paperback - 978-0994172303
ISBN: e-book - 9780994172310
Number of pages: 334
Word Count: 110,000
Cover Artist: Geoff Craig
Common threads have always woven through the world's mythology and folklore, strings which seem to link cultures divided by the vastness of oceans and time.
Have you ever wondered why? What if I told you that they all stem from a single origin.....the Varth-lokkr. Within this ancient creature's blood, stirs the power to save or enslave the world as we know it, a power ignited by a simple word. But which does it truly desire?
This dark urban fantasy follows one of these creatures through its emergence into 21st century Australia. It chronicles the rise of those who oppose it, those who ally themselves with it and those who are unwillingly drawn into its wake.
Shed the blood. Speak the words. Change the world.
Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/9Ez7jHeFp2U
Available for Purchase at Warpath Print
"Don't move or we'll fire," ordered one of the guards, his voice shook and his trigger finger twitched. Gudrik glared at him and swiftly shot towards George, who was now leaning over the stainless steel top rail, still scouring for an escape which didn't exist. The guards began to fire wildly at him. They may not have seemed overly competent, but they could shoot. Several projectiles tore through Gudrik's flesh as he moved, spattering blue onto the grass. Startled by the gunshots, George spun just in time to see the scruffy relic hurtling towards her. A bullet buried into Gudrik's knee. He stumbled. Before she had a chance to react, Gudrik crashed into George. His momentum forced her backwards, toppling them both indigently over the safety railing in a tangled mess of arms and legs.
The pair rocketed towards the ground. George screamed profanities so coarse that they blistered the very air around her. She scrambled and flailed as if trying to climb back up Gudrik's body. He wrapped himself tightly around her. "Earvictius groot," he bellowed.
His bullet wounds glowed, and the tender flesh surrounding them began to transform into cold, speckled granite. The stone rapidly spread along his limbs and across his abdomen, searing with pain as it went. He cringed and grated his teeth. As it spread across his chest and onto George she began to scream as though he were slashing chunks of flesh from her. Thankfully, the agony did not linger and in the blink of an eye, stone had completely swallowed both of them. No matter how hard she tried George could not move. It was both claustrophobic and frightening.
The living statues whistled closer and closer to the ground. Until......SMASH! They crashed unhindered onto the roof of a parked car. Glass and shrapnel exploded from the vehicle as they tore through the chassis and into the road beneath.
Just as painfully as it had spread, the rock retreated returning the flesh to its vulnerable state, leaving it sensitive and speckled with sweat. Both lay for a moment of recovery. Their chests heaved deeply as they came to terms with what had just happened. Gudrik crawled out of the mangled wreck and climbed to his feet. "Are you harmed?" he grunted, lifting George to her feet.
She was pale and disheveled with blank shock clouding her eyes. Time was of the essence. Gudrik slapped her across the cheek. Fire filled her blank eyes. She swung a punch, which he avoided. He grabbed her shoulders and repeated his question, "Are you harmed?"
"I-I'm confused as hell," she responded, panicked, but glad to be alive. "But fine. I think. Yes fine. Definitely ok," she stammered nervously, quickly checking her body over for injuries and pulling her dress down to cover the lacy black panties on show to the world. Her hand quickly went to her locket, checking it was still there. "Was I made of stone then?” Gudrik ignored her question. His attention was otherwise occupied. By that stage, a huge crowd of onlookers and good Samaritans had gathered around their impact point.
"We must keep moving."
He dragged his hand along a twisted shard of the car's metal shell and spoke, "Unjallius.”
Gudrik groaned as huge, white wings tore from the flesh of his back in a puff of loose feathers and a splatter of blue. They stretched to a massive, elegant span and quivered in the sun. The suit jacket and shirt were left torn and tattered, spattered, stained and hanging in shreds from Gudrik's muscled shoulders. The stunned onlookers stepped back in awe. He grasped the confused woman tightly and with a few powerful beats of his mighty wings launched the two of them into the sky.
George clung tightly as they whipped and glided through the city. They weaved between the highrise buildings, slowly gaining altitude and suddenly plunging toward the ground as Gudrik negotiated the unpredictable up-drafts above the busy city streets. George was not as terrified as her brain insisted she should be. She loved the speed, she loved the wind and she loved the gaping faces of the populous below. It all exhilarated her. Gudrik's grasp was gentle and caring, but still so firm and reliable that there was no fear of falling.
Finally, Gudrik surged up and breached the top of the sky scrapers. The onlookers below were now nothing more than ants. George released her grip on Gudrik and shielded her eyes. The sun was much fiercer up there without the buildings' protection. She swivelled and squirmed as she gathered bearings. "Land on those cliffs over there," George said pointing at a small lookout point above the river.
Gudrik dived and swooped in, gently putting the two of them down on the grass in a rapid flutter of tiny wing beats. "Gratitude," Gudrik grunted as the wings collapsed into a sprinkling of blood.
About the Author:
M.C. Edwards, or Eddie as he is known to his mates, grew up in a coastal town on the picturesque Central Queensland coast of Australia. He has travelled to many corners of the world and has a love of all things bizarre. He enjoys motorcycles, beards, comics, videogames and the taste of a fine single malt scotch. In his writing he crafts immersive worlds which mix reality and fantasy to create a strangely believable mix.
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Website – www.warpathprint.com