One of the things I love most about Twitter is that I constantly find new books and the amazing people who wrote them. Wendy Heard is one of them. I won’t spend the entire intro on fanboy stuff. Instead, I’ll say this: do yourself a favor and go read Heard’s latest, The Kill Club. You can thank me later. In any case, I knew Heard had some ink, so when I decided to bring Skin Stories back to life here at EconoClash Review, she was at the top of my list. Yeah, let’s kick things off in style with Wendy Heard, shall we?
Gabino Iglesias: Tell us a bit about you and your work!
Wendy Heard: I’m Wendy Heard, and I write thrillers for adults and young adults. My last book out was called THE KILL CLUB, and my next is a YA thriller called SHE’S TOO PRETTY TO BURN. I can be found on the socials at @wendydheard.
GI: What was your first tattoo and why did you decide to get more?
WH: I got my first tattoo at age 21, and it was Very Bad. Here’s the thing. I was in art school, and I wanted to draw my own tattoo. That said, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. This led to me having a tramp stamp of two elephants standing in front of the moon for the next decade and a half. When the artist was doing the tattoo, he said, “Is it okay if I make the elephants anatomically correct?” He did not add penises to the elephants, so I suppose that was a win.
From then on, I was terrified to get more tattoos, afraid I’d regret them like I did the elephants. But I wanted them. I collected photos of my favorite tattoos, and I fantasized about what I’d get if I ever got them. I felt strangely incomplete, like I was the type of person who should have tattoos. Certain parts of my body felt unfinished, like a tattoo belonged there and my skin was naked without it.
Another thing I was afraid of was people reading my writing, which I did in secret. I finally made a deal with myself: If I ever got published, I’d get a tattoo for every book that sold. I would not chicken out. I would NOT obsessively worry about what everyone thought.
GI: Tell us everything about your literary ink/your favorite piece/a funny story about your tattoos.
WH: So when I sold my first book, HUNTING ANNABELLE, I got a big back tattoo that covered up my elephants and was everything I’d been fantasizing about. I wanted it to feel like a pirate’s treasure trove, with a skull, jewels, lace, filigree, and roses. It was done by an LA-based artist named Roger Seliner at Thunderbird Tattoo, and he did an excellent job. When my second book sold, we did an arm piece that reminds me of that book.
GI: What/where will your next tattoo be?
WH: It takes me awhile to figure out which tattoo will be the right one to get in honor of the book. For SHE’S TOO PRETTY TO BURN, I’m considering a single long-stemmed rose with thorns on the stem, which is an image from the book that has a lot of symbolism attached to it. In the book, the rose is made out of stainless steel.
Epilogue: I sort of do regret my tattoos. Sometimes I miss my bare arm so much it hurts. It’s a meditation I find valuable; for every path we walk down, there’s a path we left behind. My tattoos remind me that we can’t choose everything in life, and we have to try and enjoy what we have without coveting that which might have been.
If you like the work, and you’re in the LA area, check out @Roger_seliner_tattoo on Instagram for bookings.
You can check out the books of Wendy Heard here.
Gabino Iglesias is a writer, editor, professor, and book reviewer living in Austin. He’s the author of Zero Saints and Coyote Songs, which won the Wonderland Book Award in 2019. You can find him on Twitter at @Gabino_Iglesias.