Permanent Ink — Allergic Reaction? Marcella Burnard Talks Tattoos

Do you have a tramp stamp — or do you wish you did? Tattoos are popping up all over romances these days, and this month Marcella Burnard has an RT Top Pick! paranormal novel, Nightmare Ink, featuring the the skin-based art form. It stars tattoo artist Isa, who can bind magical tattoos to their owners — only one day, things go seriously awry. With a dragon tattoo. So we wanted to know, has she gotten inked herself? Marcella fessed up. 

Long ago, I’d promised myself a tattoo if ever I sold a book. Here’s what I’d wanted: Ma’at.

A print of Ma'at.

Above is a print of Ma'at that I purchased here.

Beautiful, isn’t she? If you know the Egyptian Book of the Dead, you know Ma’at as the one who weighs the heart of the dead against the feather of Truth. In the pantheon of the Egyptian gods, however, Ma’at encompassed more. She represents the power of words to create reality. That was my basis for wanting to etch her indelibly into my skin when I finally managed to get a book published.

I see you’ve noticed the past tense. Sigh. Did you know that it’s possible to be allergic to tattoo ink? It is. And it turns out that the vivid colors Ma’at would require are the inks most likely to induce a reaction. Green is the worst, apparently. I learned all of this from the artist who did my husband’s tribal tattoo at Slave to the Needle in Seattle.

My husband's tribal tattoo.

She offered to do a test patch for me. But here’s my problem with injecting permanent ink into my skin. I’m allergic to everything. What would happen if I reacted? Perma-rash? The never ending itchy spot? How ‘bout I make my wisdom check for once and say ‘naaaah.’ 

That leaves me with a never ending case of tattoo envy. I can admire other people’s artwork, but I can’t safely own any. It leaves me free to change my mind about what style is my current favorite. Something I do often. 

Among my favs: Biomechanical — especially steampunk and 3D tattoos — do a search on those only if you don’t have a spider phobia. You can find some fantastic examples here and here.

But the tattoos I keep coming back to are from Japan. It may be a few too many graphic novels by Japanese artists in my youth, but I’ve harbored a secret love of Japanese tattoos. They can be bold and vivid, or shaded and subtle as a water color painting. The water color quality, especially, appeals to me. You can see some beautiful examples of Japanese tattoo art here and here.

Do you have some permanant ink, or were you scared off like Marcella? You RT Web Team is partially tatted, and proud of it! Be sure to check out Nightmare Ink, out next week. In the meatime, visit our Everything Paranormal page for all things spooky.