Sunday, July 22, 2012

Guest Post & Giveaway: Tattoos & Teacups by Anna Martin

Please help me welcome Anna Martin to Pants Off! She has brought a great post and an awesome giveaway, so please say hello and make her feel welcome.

Tattoos & Teacups is probably the most personal novel I’ve ever written, which is strange when you consider that it’s about two men. I have, for the past five years, spent a few weeks of the summer working Edinburgh, in Scotland, where Tattoos & Teacups protagonist is from. For about six weeks the entire city is taken over by theatres in the name of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (which is generally accepted to be one of the biggest and best theatre festivals in the world!)

I work in a small venue called Augustines on George IV Bridge. During the year it’s a fully functioning church and the company I work with turn this beautiful, gothic building (it was built in 1861) into four theatre spaces. It’s crazy, dirty, exhausting... and the best fun of my life. To those who know me it was little surprise that I wanted to dedicate a book to the Fringe.

(Incidentally, if you stand on the stone steps of Augustines and look across the road you will be staring into The Elephant House. This small, nondescript place, where I buy my morning croissant and orange juice, is the legendary cafe where JK Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book. There is something truly magical about sitting there, writing, absorbing maybe a few breaths of her genius.)

So I wanted to incorporate my love of Edinburgh into a novel, but not necessarily set one there. It’s an easy place to characterize but not really a romantic enough setting for my particular style of romance novels. In addition to this, I’m very aware that I write for mostly an American audience, and I didn't want to alienate my readers with an unfamiliar place. Taking the character of Robert out of Scotland and setting him down in America gave me another facet of his personality – 16 years after moving to the US he still feels like a fish out of water and like he doesn't belong.

The very bones of the story started out as an idea about an uptight, professional man and a younger, tattooed, “wild child” character and how they would somehow come together. I started sketching out ideas and putting scenes together during my time in Edinburgh last summer, but in between running a theatre I was manically editing my first Dreamspinner Press novel Another Way and I never had chance to take it past that initial planning stage. 

The opportunity to dedicate serious time to developing the story came with NaNoWriMo 2011 when I succeeded in putting 50,000 words of the story into place in 30 days (well, 29 actually, but who’s counting?!) The finished novel was released just seven months later on July 6th.

Robert McKinnon is not me, not by a long shot, but there are definitely aspects of his personality that I have drawn from my own – unconsciously at the time, I hasten to add. He is very secure in his intellect and academic knowledge, but not so much in his physical appearance and the way he is seen by others. Despite the troubles of his past he is fairly content in his present. Through him I also got to express my huge admiration, respect and love of the works of Rudyard Kipling which I studied while completing my Literature degree.

With Robert as a first person narrator I was free to throw in as many British colloquialisms as I liked without fear of repercussion, hence my unapologetic use of the occasional “bloody hell”. His ‘voice’ came easily to me because I felt, at times, like it was an extension of my own.

From the character of Robert it was fairly effortless for me to create Chris – he is Robert’s total opposite on the surface, yet when the layers are peeled back they are actually very similar. There needed to be balance between the two characters: if Robert gave too much to Chris, or vice versa,
then their delicate relationship wouldn't work. So Chris helps Robert come out of his shell, and Robert provides Chris with the stability and sense of family he’d been missing.

The last piece of the puzzle for this novel was the cover. From the very beginning I had a strong idea of how I wanted it to look – reflecting the Sailor Jerry Americana tattoos that I (and Chris) have. I sent my ideas of to Dreamspinner and was fortunate enough to have the artwork created by Bob, who took my idea and created something truly fantastic from it.

Tattoos & Teacups is a love story on many levels; between Robert and Chris first of all, then between me and the city that I call my summer home. I will be terribly cheesy now and say that I hope you love it too! 

As a last little note, if anyone reading this is going to be in Edinburgh for the Fringe this year please feel free to drop me a line and we can meet up for a cup of tea!

Contact Anna:
Twitter: @missannamartin

As a teenager, Robert McKinnon left his native Scotland and moved to America. That was sixteen years ago, and Professor McKinnon has never quite settled in his new home or found his place this side of the pond. He might be prematurely old, but he has his cat, and his books, and that's all he needs.

Then Chris Ford explodes into Robert's life with a crash of cymbals. The younger man is the polar opposite of Robert's calm civility. Bright tattoos cover his skin, and he wears his hair in a Mohawk and plays drums for a rock band. But he's a shot of color in Robert's black-and-white world, and Robert turns out to be the one thing Chris can count on. Despite all the reasons it shouldn't work, somehow it does.

Even if Robert wasn't looking for love—especially not with someone nearly ten years his junior—he can't deny being with Chris is fun. But sometimes Chris's free-spirited nature leaves Robert feeling vulnerable. If they can't find a balance between tattoos and teacups, their relationship won't survive—and neither will Robert's newfound lust for life.

For a chance to win an ebook copy of Tattoos and Teacups by Anna Martin please visit the contact page on her website, and send your name, and the type of format you would like with the heading ‘Pants Off Reviews’. Winners will be notified by 31st July. Please note – the winner will need to have an account with Dreamspinner Press in order to receive their free ebook. It’s completely free to sign up! Visit for more information.   


  1. Great interview. I really loved this book it was a beautiful love story:-)

    1. That's so great to hear! Thanks very much! :)

  2. Absolutely loved this post, and the book is now on my list, for sure! Thanks for that; I love to hear how an author connects with their own stories. It adds that extra dimension for me.

    1. Hi Katey! Hope you enjoy the book :)

  3. Great post! I enjoyed Another Way and after checking out Anna's site, I was so happy to see that a sequel will be out in September. Can't wait and I really look forward to reading Tattoos & Teacups! Love that cover!

    1. I'm really excited for the Another Way sequel too! I got a sneak peek at the cover art earlier this week and it's rather awesome, if I'm allowed to say that! :)

  4. fantabulous post! I look forward to reading Tattoos and Tea Cups even more now that I have a little history :) It sounds like a wonderful place. :)

    1. Hi Crissy! I'm off to Edinburgh on Friday, just a little bit excited :D I hope you enjoy the book!

  5. The post was wonderful and your cover is breathtaking!

  6. This is most definitely a book I'm going to need in my life to survive... HaHa. Count me in :)


  7. Definitely need to read this one...please count me in.
    Thanks, chellebee66 at gmail dot com

  8. Love the title. Count me in please.


  9. The cover is really pretty, and I really enjoyed reading the book, my review will be posted tomorrow.

  10. Hi! Thanks to everyone who entered the competition, I've just sent an email out to the winners.
    Take care,
    - Anna


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