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Jeff with tattoos


The publication of my debut novel, Symptoms of Being Human, was a milestone in my life, and I marked it with a tattoo. When my second book, The Lightness of Hands, was scheduled for release, I couldn’t wait to continue the tradition — but then, COVID. The pandemic and ensuing lockdowns not only closed tattoo parlors, but bookstores across the country. Events were cancelled. Parties were postponed. My new ink would have to wait.

But this week, on Tuesday, August 10, 2021, the paperback edition of The Lightness of Hands lands on bookstore shelves. (I hope you’ll stop by your local bookshop and pick up a copy.) I decided to celebrate with new art on my body. So, to start a week of giveaways & promotions, here’s the story about my tattoo.

I’ve dedicated my left arm to representing my books. Above my wrist, you’ll see Riley’s haircut from the cover of Symptoms. North of that is my latest, composed of symbols from The Lightness of Hands. This gorgeous art was conceived and drawn by Zander Vera, and the tattooing was done by the inimitable Justin Warn at Torch Tattoo in Anaheim.

In Lightness, the girl magician protagonist, Ellie Dante, is an expert at sleight of hand, and her card magic centers around the nine of hearts. During her act, she also produces a dozen doves out of thin air, hence the birds. I especially love the way Zander used negative space inside the nine – no easy feat to accomplish in a tattoo, but Justin’s expert, steady hand was more than up to the job. The circle above the nine may look out of place at first, but if you squint, you’ll see that the 9 and the dot form a semicolon (;), a symbol of mental health awareness conceived by Amy Bleuel with her Project Semicolon.

Tattoo Close

Thanks to Zander and Justin for this beautiful and meaningful tattoo celebrating The Lightness of Hands. Every time I look in the mirror, I’ll be reminded of all the satisfaction, pride, and healing this book gave me.

Learn more about The Lightness of Hands and get your copy here.

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