Inklings: A Novel


[literary fiction/commercial crossover]

[100,000 words + illustrations]

Inklings is my first novel and I am currently seeking an agent or indie press. Let me know if you know of one (or are one!).

Gina Mulley, 21, desperately wants to become a tattoo artist—but this is 1982, a time before the tattoo explosion. Most tattooists are men. The classic designs are anchors and pin-ups, not the quirky flash Gina proposes (merit badges, meatballs, amoebas). Her brother Dominic, who owns the only studio in their working-class Long Island hometown, is convinced that customers won’t take her seriously.

Through a series of clever maneuvers, Gina eventually persuades him to take her on as an apprentice. But her plans are complicated by a growing friendship with a fake psychic named Nicolas and his live-in assistant, Anna—both of whom are keeping secrets.

As Gina struggles to prove herself—how many grapefruits does a tattooist have to practice on before she can turn a real live human being into a work of art?—she also struggles with how to forge a meaningful life. She and Anna eventually fall in love, but will Anna’s wanderlust pry them apart? Both Nicolas and Dominic say they have Gina’s best interests in mind, but do they? And does tattooing serve any greater good?

A word about the research

My fascination with tattoos started with my mother. I was eight years old when she had her wrist tattooed with a butterfly and took me along. Writing Inklings gave me the excuse to interview several wonderful tattoo artists, including Stacey Sharpe, Eric Ziobrowski, Marc Gold, and Marvin Moskowitz, a third-generation tattooist whose father and uncle opened the first studio on Long Island in the 1960s. Much has changed in tattooing from 1982 to today—including art and hygienic practices—so this novel captures a bit of tattoo history.

A word about the drawings in the background of this website

As I was finishing the novel, I began to draw things that I imagined might appear in Gina’s sketchbook, objects that appear in her story or her imagination:

an ugly fish

a fortune cookie

a cross made of vegetables

a flaming bowl full of crumpled papers that look like cabbage flowers

Those are the drawings that appear in the background of this site. (They also appear in the novel, among others.)