10 Questions: Alison Belsham, author of The Tattoo Thief

Hi all!

Another in my sporadic series of 10 Questions interview / survey things with fellow writers! I know, it’s been a few weeks, hasn’t it? I’ve expanded the casting of my author net a bit, so not all the writers featured from this point onwards are with Unbound. Mind you, that won’t stop me plugging my own noir thriller East of England, which is out on 24th January 2019, and which can be pre-ordered from all the places that sell books, such as here.

Today, it’s the turn of Alison Belsham, whose The Tattoo Thief is out now from Orion:

Who are you and what’s your book about?

My name’s Alison Belsham and my debut novel, The Tattoo Thief was published in September by Orion/Trapeze Books. It’s a police procedural set in Brighton:

A policeman on his first murder case
A tattoo artist with a deadly secret
And a twisted serial killer sharpening his blades to kill again...

When Brighton tattoo artist Marni Mullins discovers a flayed body, newly-promoted DI Francis Sullivan needs her help. There's a serial killer at large, slicing tattoos from his victims' bodies while they're still alive. Marni knows the tattooing world like the back of her hand, but has her own reasons to distrust the police. So when she identifies the killer's next target, will she tell Sullivan or go after the Tattoo Thief alone?



Why should folk read your book?

 If you’re the type of reader that relishes a gory serial killer tale with as many twists and turns as there are pages, this might be right up your street. For anyone who knows Brighton or for anyone who has a tattoo there’s an added layer of interest. The pace doesn’t let up for an instant, so it’s great for a holiday read when you want to be swept away by the story.

What’s the appeal of your book?  

I think one of the main appeals of The Tattoo Thief is the dynamic between the two main characters. Francis Sullivan is a young, newly-promoted DI. He’s as far from the usual fictional DI as is possible – he doesn’t drink, he isn’t divorced, he’s fiercely ambitious and he goes to church every Sunday. He crosses paths with Marni Mullins, the tattoo artist who finds the first body. Marni is older and wiser, but she has a dark past and a strong distrust of the police. The pair are thrown together, trying to track down a serial killer who’s targeting the tattooing community – and the sparks start to fly the instant they meet. Add to that the chance to get right inside this serial killer’s head, and you’ll find yourself on something of a roller coaster.

Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy?  

Amazon, Kobo, Waterstones, iBooks and hopefully all good bookshops. Not to mention your local library.

The Tattoo Thief_Approved Visual.jpg

Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:

I get up at about 7.00 and usually try to go to the gym for a workout or a swim. Then back home for breakfast. My working day varies – sometimes I’m writing all day and at other times I split my time between writing fiction and copywriting, which is my day job. Being a freelance copywriter and working from home, it makes it easy for me to decide how to structure my time between the two sorts of writing. As well as working at home, I inject a bit of variety by also working at the library and in a number of favourite coffee shops. I sometimes wonder what the people on the adjacent tables would think if they knew I was writing a particularly gory murder scene while they’re enjoying their coffee and cake! I usually stop working at around five or six. Living in Edinburgh, there are a huge number of book-related events such as book launches and author talks, so I try to go to these regularly or just out for a drink with fellow crime writers, who despite what you might think, are an incredibly friendly bunch!


Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?

One of the first books about writing I came across was Solutions for Novelists: Secrets of a Master Editor by Sol Stein. I think this is a brilliant book and though I’ve read many since, this is still a book I turn to when I want to remind myself about some of the basics of writing. I can thoroughly recommend it to novice writers and the more experienced alike.


Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer:

Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier

A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving

Bleak House – Charles Dickens

Although the latter two are not crime books, these books had a great impact on me when I read them and I think it’s down to the extraordinary characterisation these writers achieve.


Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without:

Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier

Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons

The Art of Fielding – Chad Harbach

 I don’t think I could ever tire of Rebecca and Cold Comfort Farm always makes me laugh. The Art of Fielding is an extraordinary and moving coming-of-age novel.

Any words of writing wisdom?

I think the last thing any writer needs is words of wisdom from me! There’s a mountain of advice out there for novice writers, with plenty of contradiction – so all I would say is find your own way and your own voice. The more you write, the better you’ll become, but there’s no right way or wrong way – just do it the way that feels right to you. Perseverance is what you need most.


Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch:

The Tattoo Thief – the title says it all!


Social media contacts:

Twitter - @AlisonBelsham

Facebook – @AlisonBelshamWriter

Instagram -  alisonbelsham 

Book URL: mybook.to/TattooThiefpaperback 

Website: www.alisonbelsham.com


Thanks very much to Alison for playing along!


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