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Wednesday 19 October 2016

ℚ♫ Skin of Tattoos - Christina Hoag

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about Skin of Tattoos (, Martin Brown Publishers, LLC, 279 pages), a Literary Crime.

"Well-crafted, engaging ...surprisingly nuanced and wholly enjoyable. Readers will become quickly invested."
-Kirkus Reviews

"Captivating, gritty, realistic...Lyrically written with several twists and turns that left me breathless til the very end."
- Author Matthew Peters

Synopsis | Teaser: KCR Preview | Author Q&A | About the Author | Giveaway & Tour Stops

A very warm welcome to Christina Hoag; thank you for joining us on BooksChatter!

To start, Christina Hoag has shared with us her music playlist for Skin of Tattoos - enjoy!

What was the inspiration for Skin of Tattoos?
"The genesis for “Skin of Tattoos” is from a set of interviews for a magazine story I did in El Salvador with gang members deported from Los Angeles to San Salvador, which most of them really didn’t know because their families had emigrated, fleeing the civil war, when they were infants. When they got to Los Angeles, they found themselves in another type of war zone and formed gangs for their own protection.

The novel grew out of that. It’s really a strange take on the immigrant experience."
How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?
"The story of these gang members in El Salvador resonated with me because it was a classic “fish out of water” story. These guys neither belonged in El Salvador or in the United States. I relate to that because I moved around the world as a child and my parents were of different nationalities. I feel I don’t really belong anywhere."
Why should we read Skin of Tattoos and what sets it apart from the rest? What makes your book unique?
"I really flesh out my characters, give them motivations, personality complexities that stem from their childhood, their experience.

I love psychology and studying human behavior and it’s stood me in good stead when writing character and motivation. For example, my protagonist, Mags, in “Skin of Tattoos” is a second child same sex (male), which often generate an intense sibling rivalry, especially as the older child is often overachieving and a goody-two-shoes. Mags deeply resents Frank, his older brother, and that gives rise to a lot of plot points.

I also include a lot of international themes and setting in my books, which is fairly unique."
Can you tell us something quirky about Skin of Tattoos, its story and characters?
"It started life as a YA novel, but that genre proved too limiting for the character and story. I upped Mags’s age a couple years and voila, I had an adult book that granted me full rein over the story without having to think of teenager-ish things like parental control, school, etc. It was far better."
Who would you recommend Skin of Tattoos to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"I think any fan of crime fiction would like this book. It’s gritty, it’s dramatic, it’s got high stakes, and it does contain some violence. Anyone who’s interested in the inner city or the gang world would also find it appealing.

The story contains a number of elements: There’s a mystery that Mags has to puzzle out, a romance, action/adventure, as well as a thriller-style game between Mags and Rico where the stakes really amp up toward the end. Readers have also told me they like the secondary characters a lot – the other homeboys and Mags’ family."
If you could / wished to turn Skin of Tattoos into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"There’s an American actor named Richard Cabral, who was a gang member in real life so he’s already tatted up! He has an intense, edgy look so he’d make a great Rico.

I’d cast Mexican actor Demian Bichir as Pops, Mags’ father, and wholesome-looking Benito Martinez as the parole officer, Angel. I don’t know who would play Mags.

I’d shoot the movie on location in Los Angeles.

Maybe Kurt Sutter, who created the hit FX motorcycle gang show “Sons of Anarchy” would like to direct!"

What do you like to write and read about? Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?

"I love reading and writing gritty, edgy drama usually with some crime or cop angle to it. My problem with most of detective/mystery fiction, which I like in general, is that it tends to be formulaic in plot and character, whereas a lot of literary fiction is too slow-paced to sustain interest. I’m striving to hit the balance between the two. My aim is to create well written stories that have intricate plots but also intricate characters.

I also gravitate toward foreign settings, probably because I’ve lived in several countries and travelled around the world (travel is another passion of mine), and setting stories amid current events. That’s probably the journalist in me since I’m a news junkie."
What is your writing process?
"My best writing is in the morning so I gear my days around that. I get up early and get going. I generally stop writing in the early afternoon to do business stuff.

I do use outlines, sometimes not even written ones, but I like to know where I’m headed. Sometimes I simply map out a few scenes ahead so I don’t get stuck and waste time. Characters have a funny way of changing things along the way so it’s always interesting to see what pops up."
What is in store next?
"I’m hoping to complete a sequel to “Skin of Tattoos” so I can finish Mags’ story. I’ve got some of it written, but it’s messy.

But first, I’m making myself finish two novels that are both near completion. One is called “The Revolutionaries,” a literary political thriller based on the 2002 coup attempt in Venezuela, where I was living at the time. An expat couple are the protagonists and they get wrapped up in opposite sides of the political debate, which drives a wedge in their marriage. The other is called “Angel’s Lust,” a detective mystery set in Los Angeles with a Latin American twist to the mystery."
And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better... do you have a pet or something that is special to you that you could share with us?
"Besides books, travel is my other passion. I especially love making literary pilgrimages. I’ve visited Hemingway sites in Cuba and Key West, Graham Greene sites in Port-au-Prince, Saigon, Havana, and the Raffles Hotel in Singapore where W. Somerset Maugham and Rudyard Kipling used to hang out. One can only hope some of those literary vibes will rub off!

Here’s a picture of my last such pilgrimage in May: to the very unprepossessing house where Jane Austen died in 1817 in Winchester, England."
Thank you for sharing! :-D

Skin of Tattoos
Available NOW!

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CMash said...

I read this book and the characters were very developed, which made for an extremely good read. Found this interview to quite interesting. Thanks for sharing.

Christina said...

Thanks so much for hosting me on your blog today! And thanks to CMash for reading and commenting on my novel, much appreciated!