Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Indie Ink Runs Deep: Amy Biddle

Every now and then I manage to talk a small press author into showing us a little skin... tattooed skin, that is. I know there are websites and books out there that have been-there-done-that already, but I hadn't seen one with a specific focus on the authors and publishers of the small press community. Whether it's the influence for their book, influenced by their book, or completely unrelated to the book, we get to hear the story behind their indie ink....

Today's ink comes from Amy Biddle. Amy is a sailor and writer who resides in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her debut novel, The Atheist’s Prayer, is available for pre-order now! Find out more at

I never thought I’d be sending images of myself in a bikini to a literary blog, but there’s a first time for everything. This is a tattoo I’m particularly fond of, probably because I don’t have to look at it every day.

Before I tell you what it’s a tattoo is of, I want you to take a good look and see if you can identify it yourself.

OK, fine, I’ll help you. Three leaves and shiny…

That’s right. I have poison ivy growing up my back. Despite what you might think, I did not get the tattoo because I’m poisonous or dangerous, and no, I won’t give you a rash.

Just don’t get too close.

The real reason I got a tattoo of poison ivy is because, growing up, poison ivy defined my summers. I would run barefoot on the banks of the James River and hike through the woods, and without fail, every summer, bubbles of puss oozed up on my arms and legs and, ugh, between my toes and sometimes even on my face. God, I loved those summers. Don’t they sound amazing?

And because, by nature, I need to have a story behind everything, there is more to this tattoo than meets the eye. It is, in theory, a vine in the shape of the James River. Yes, the very same river whose banks gave me days of miserable, itchy pain.

Granted, the map might not be particularly accurate, since I got the tattoo in Thailand, and there was a language barrier to work with, and the entire thing was rather spur-of-the-moment, and it took six hours because instead of a gun they used a bunch of needles tied to a bamboo shoot… You know, the usual touristy crap. Needless to say, things were generally confusing and I was somewhat impatient.

Still, I’ve always wondered if my lovely map of the James was anywhere near accurate. Since I can’t check it out in the mirror, I finally decided to sit down and use Photoshop for a comparison. Just for kicks.

In retrospect, a map would have been more useful on one of my legs, or even my stomach. But that’s OK, because it’s not particularly accurate after all, and I might have gotten lost if I’d tried to orient myself in the wilderness according to my poison ivy leaves.

And hey, in the end, it’s all about artistic interpretation, right?

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