Author Override is the place where authors take the reins and take you on a journey into their world. Some may allow you into their private writing dens. Others may take you along with them on research trips or interviews. Whatever the case may be, sit back, relax and enjoy the ride because here you’ll get an in-depth look into an author’s musings.
UNDER THE COVERS with a Rocker’s Tattoos
Here’s a weird fact: When I first moved to New York City in 1993, tattoos were illegal. Yep, tattooing was considered a ‘medical misdemeanor’ and had been banned in 1961 by the City Health Department, apparently due to a series of Hepatitis C outbreaks traced back to Coney Island tattoo parlors.
I was 23 in 1993. Living on my own for the first time, with my first real paycheck burning a hole in my pocket. And I really wanted a tattoo. I was of legal age (finally), but all the tattoo artists I had heard whisper of were operating from secret backrooms, behind double doors of glass and metal that required secret knocks and Black Market-size payments I wasn’t prepared for.
So what’s a girl to do? Well, I got my nose pierced instead. Throw a rock in East Village during the 1990s and you would hit a body piercer – their shops were everywhere, and exempt from the Prohibition. A few years later, while visiting my brother in Portland, Oregon, I finally got a legal tattoo, dirt cheap – my one and only permanent souvenir of indelible ink.
People say it’s addicting – once you get one tattoo, you won’t want to stop. But a platelet disorder put an end to my own quest for creative color. Platelets help your blood clot, and apparently my body destroys its own platelets as fast as it makes them, so tattoos went on my no-no list.
Now I live vicariously through my characters, using words to etch tattooed tapestries strategically across their bodies and to serve, like in Adrian “Digger” Grave’s case, as a colorful chronology of his rise (and fall) as a rock god. When he first meets his love interest, Kat, in LOUDER THAN LOVE, he keeps his tattooed timeline a secret from her, along with his past. But he slowly and seductively reveals them as he opens up to her…and even begins to add new designs to his colorful collection.
I’m excited to share an exclusive excerpt from LOUDER THAN LOVE. What better place for Kat to discover Adrian’s latest ink than here, UNDER THE COVERS?
Now the dawn sifted in through a gap in the curtain, motes of dust sparkling in a lone spotlight
leading to the newest tattoo on my lover’s body. So there it was. On his side with his arm thrown over his head in slumber, Adrian provided me a luxurious full view of a beautiful flowering desert cactus that ran from his hipbone to his armpit. The stem was various shades of green and rose up to mid-rib, with spiny clusters—some curving, some straight, projecting out in every direction; some black fading into gray, others yellow into white. Smaller ribs of the plant undulated from the body, and it was then I noticed a slim smooth snake, brown and gray, coiling carefully between the spikes on its mission upward. Its reward was apparent: A lush funnel-shaped bloom fanned up toward his armpit, the colors flaming orange bleeding into dark red. The lower buds harbored a few remaining spikes near its base before changing to smooth and waxy petals. The detail inside was incredible, complete with a thick nectar chamber and dozens of thready pink stamens at the center. Adrian had once likened me to a desert flower, soon after my Memorial Day purge and clam-up.
“You bristle to keep people at bay,” he had commented. “But your blooms keep them coming back.” I hadn’t taken offense; I knew the quality had mutated in me during those dry and barren years after Pete.
Perhaps Adrian saw himself as the snake, an unlikely suitor stereotypically unequipped to bring solace but determined to do so. Who was more likely to injure the other? I didn’t want to currently contemplate it, not on our first real morning together.
Like a film in reverse mode, I slipped naked out of bed and into one of my new negligees. Marissa and Leanna had tried to sway me away from my choice, saying it was too bordello red with too much black lace, but I had insisted. The bathroom mirror agreed with my choice; I smiled at the way the bottom hem graced my legs, how tiny my waist looked as the red silk ruched up tastefully over my chest, and how the black lace straps flattered as they widened over my ivory shoulders. I brushed my teeth and completed my loop back into bed.
“Oh my . . . my, my, my,” Adrian murmured; he was just stretching and blinking as I eased back
down next to him. “Let me drink you in . . . wow.”
I straddled his sheet-swathed midsection and let him admire the view. “I match your flower,” I
whispered, leaning to kiss the complex corolla of the fresh tattoo.
“You are my flower,” he whispered back, fingers moving along the lacey hem as if to memorize
where it met my flesh. “My Echinocereus triglochidiatus. Yes, big word . . . I know. Trying to impress you.”
I pressed my chest to his bare one, allowing my hands to run over his smooth, strong shoulders.
“Oh yeah? Tell me more.”
“The desert flower takes five to ten years after sowing to bloom.” He ran his fingers around the
lacy straps and down the neckline. “Then the flower only opens for a few days at a time.”
“Sounds like beauty worth waiting for,” I breathed, kissing his cheek and sliding toward his ear.
“Like you and me.”
Thanks for having me visit today to celebrate my debut release, Louder Than Love!
In this powerful debut novel, a young librarian grieves the loss of her husband…and discovers a love that defies classification.
It’s been over three years since a train accident made a widow of Katrina Lewis, sending her and her young daughter Abbey back to the suburban town of her youth…the only place that still makes sense. Lauder Lake is the perfect place to hide and heal.
Recluse rocker Adrian “Digger” Graves survived the implosion of his music career, but his muse has long lain dormant. Until Kat hires him to play at her library—not on the basis of his hard rock credentials but rather, because of the obscure kids’ TV jingle he wrote years ago. In a case of mistaken identity, Adrian stumbles into the lives of Kat and her comically lovable daughter.
Using tattoos as a timeline, Adrian unfurls his life for Kat. But as the courtship intensifies, it’s unclear whose past looms larger: the widow’s or the rocker’s. Will their demons ever rest, or will they break these soul mates apart?
About the Author
Jessica Topper is an ex-librarian turned rock n’ roll number cruncher. She can trace her love for the written word back to age three, when she memorized Maurice Sendak’s “Chicken Soup with Rice” in its entirety.
After her daughter was born, Jessica left the Manhattan library world and began working for her husband’s music management company. He offered her a part-time bookkeeping job so she could “stay home for the baby’s first year” and pursue her dream of writing.
The baby is now eleven, and Jessica has been working her full-time, sold-her-soul-for-rock-n-roll job as Office Manager for veteran jam band moe. ever since. She may have traded in books for bookkeeping, but the written word is never far from her mind, or her heart.
Jessica lives in upstate New York with her husband, daughter and one ancient cat. You can visit her at www.jessicatopper.com.
We are giving away a copy of LOUDER THAN LOVE (via Amazon or B&N) to a lucky maiden today! International.
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