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
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!
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.
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
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 a chance to win an ebook copy of Tattoos and Teacups by Anna
Martin please visit the contact page on her website,
annamartin-fiction.com 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 dreamspinnerpress.com for more