There was a time when I would talk about one day writing fantasy novels under a pseudonym. This pretentious idea didn’t occur to me because my actual name wasn’t cool enough (it clearly is), or because I needed to protect my family from the consequences of being related to me (they have been successfully dealing with that for years), or even because there was somebody else more famous sporting my moniker (Google me). No, I considered writing my first-love genre under a pseudonym because I believed it was beneath me somehow. I thought I was going to be a poet and/or novelist who wrote “serious” stuff, and that if I ever wanted to pop into the party where magic and madness reigned, I was going to need a disguise

That is obviously stupid on many, many levels. Writing a book-length anything is so difficult that you should get a write up in your local paper just for typing the last period. I know that there are some people out there who will claim to skip merrily to the top of this particular mountain, but for me (and most others I think) it is a harrowing ascent full of self-doubt cravasses, other-shit-to-do avalanches and dear-god-its-cold loneliness. Getting a manuscript from A to B is summiting a high peak in any genre, and it is absolutely crazy to want to hide from that accomplishment. If the journey for you was easy, painless and full of self-affirming joy, kindly keep it to yourself. I struggled. I lost a metaphorical toe to frostbite and left some good friends behind along the way.

Naturally, I write all of this to explain the tattoo pictured above. The working cover for Through the Stone Gate was drawn by my phenomenally talented wife (check out her work), and is the symbol of the gate between our world and the world of Asima. Even without context, I think the artwork alone makes for a very cool tattoo, but my reasons for getting it ground painfully into my flesh went a bit deeper than that. I wanted to connect myself with my work in a way that the younger me was always hesitant to do. I wanted to claim my fantasy nerd status indelibly.

So, the symbol of the Stone Gate is tattooed on my arm. Even if this book stalls here in the wilderness between intrigued beta readers and skeptical literary agents, the process of producing the manuscript deserved a monument of some sort, and I have created it… or more accurately, my wife and a talented man with a needle have created it.

I suppose this is all a bit much for a tattoo reveal. It is particularly egregious for one I got so many months ago, but I am proud of finally finishing a book (any book), and I don’t want the real joy of that to get lost in the challenge of getting the broader world to care.