Today on The Tattooed Book Geek I am pleased to be taking part in the blog tour for The Tattoo Thief by Alison Belsham by featuring a guest post courtesy of the author herself.
The guest post looks at the research that Alison did for The Tattoo Thief and is a fascinating read.
My thanks to Tracy Fenton for the tour invite, Trapeze books and of course, Alison Belsham too.
Guest Post: Doing my research: the good, the bad and the ugly!
Most writers, whatever their genre, will find that they need to do some research to create authentic characters and settings. In crime fiction, in particular, there’s a lot that you could get wrong if you skimp on doing your homework. Police procedural details, medical and forensic facts, gritty locations and methods of killing all have to be painstakingly looked into to keep things real.
Some of the research is fun and a lot of it is fascinating – let’s call this the good. I’m lucky enough to count an Imperial College doctor and a retired police superintendent among my friends, who very kindly let me ask them questions and read my finished manuscripts to prevent me from making massively embarrassing errors. They brilliantly check facts and details for me and we have interesting discussions about things like how long it would take someone to bleed to death given the injuries I’ve inflicted on them or the finer points of murder, manslaughter and diminished responsibility prosecutions and defences.
The good part of doing research also includes site trips to story locations – The Tattoo Thief and its two forthcoming sequels are set in Brighton, which means frequent trips there to check out locations and generally soak up the Brighton vibe. Thank goodness I set the stories somewhere I love to visit! Maybe my next set of books should be set in Tuscany or Barcelona, or maybe Rome…
The Tattoo Thief is also set in the tattooing world. Now, I’m not going to claim I had my sleeve tattoo as research for my book – it was getting the tattoo that, in fact, inspired the story – but 25 hours of discussing all things tattoo with my brilliant tattoo artist while he was working made absolutely fascinating research. Since then I’ve visited plenty of tattoo conventions and spoken to other tattooists, so hopefully I’ve been able to give a realistic portrayal of their world.
Now we come to the bad. This is the disappointment you feel when you set up a great twist to happen in your story and research says ‘no’. No, you can’t kill someone by doing that. No, your protagonist couldn’t get from A to B and back again in the time frame you’ve allowed them. No, as I was recently told in no uncertain terms, you can’t have your doctor swearing at his patients. Or the police! Whoops!
But what do I mean when I refer to the ugly? This is a rare category of research that, so far, I’ve only had to deal with once. In the next episode of the trilogy, certain of my characters have a scene or two down in the Brighton sewers. For the sake of realism, I booked myself a sewer tour.
This was the ugly! I probably don’t need to go into too many details – I’m sure you can all imagine just how unpleasant a working Victorian sewer is. I’m certain you don’t need me to tell you about the smell. And the slime… I’ll stop now. It’s not somewhere I would have gone if I wasn’t researching it for the book. But what puzzled me was this: there were 20 people on the tour, so what the hell were the other 19 doing down there?
Research is all part of the fun of being a writer, and I can’t wait to see where future stories will take me.
A huge thank you to Drew for hosting me on The Tattooed Book Geek today.
The Tattoo Thief.
A policeman on his first murder case
A tattoo artist with a deadly secret
And a twisted serial killer sharpening his blades to kill again…
When Brighton tattoo artist Marni Mullins discovers a flayed body, newly-promoted DI Francis Sullivan needs her help. There’s a serial killer at large, slicing tattoos from his victims’ bodies while they’re still alive. Marni knows the tattooing world like the back of her hand, but has her own reasons to distrust the police. So when she identifies the killer’s next target, will she tell Sullivan or go after the Tattoo Thief alone?
Purchase The Tattoo Thief.
About Alison Belsham.
(author picture and info taken from author website)
Alison Belsham initially started writing with the ambition of becoming a screenwriter-and in 2000 was commended for her visual storytelling in the Orange Prize for Screenwriting. In 2001 she was shortlisted in a BBC Drama Writer competition. Life and children intervened but, switching to fiction, in 2009 her novel Domino was selected for the prestigious Adventures in Fiction mentoring scheme. In 2016 she pitched her first crime novel, The Tattoo Thief, at the Pitch Perfect event at the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival and was judged the winner. After signing with agent Jenny Brown, The Tattoo Thief was bought by Trapeze books and published in May, 2018.
Find Alison Belsham:
Follow the Blog Tour.
Follow The Tattooed Book Geek on: