US tattoo artist chooses UK publisher for her debut speculative fiction novel

Cross genre science fiction mystery in a gritty urban fantasy novel with romantic overtones: romantasy or romanscifi?

DARTFORD, KENT – 30 April 2024 – If you are on the lookout for a new science fiction mystery story, your first port of call is unlikely to be a tattoo studio. But if you are in Pittsburgh in the United States, that’s exactly where you need to go. Head to Kyklops Tattoo to find the latest book published by Elsewhen Press, LACUNA, a science fiction enigma inside a gritty urban fantasy; the first book in the Chimera series. There you will also find LACUNA’s author, Erin Hosfield who is one of the tattoo artists at Kyklops. Erin also created the cover art for the book. Perhaps it’s not surprising that Lynna, the main character in Erin’s debut novel, is herself a tattoo artist. But that’s where the similarity ends, Lynna has secrets in her past that she wants to keep quiet about.

A science fiction story starring a tattooist? How unusual is that? Peter Buck, Editorial Director of Elsewhen Press, says: “There have been plenty of science fiction and fantasy stories where a character sports a tattoo; sometimes the tattoo might even come to life! But I’m not aware of any other science fiction story where the main protagonist is a tattoo artist.” He adds, tantalisingly, “Without giving away any spoilers, the tattoos are not what makes this story science fiction!”

Erin says: “LACUNA is my first novel, and honestly my first attempt at real writing. I’ve been asked a few times how I came up with the idea, and in truth it started as an afterthought centered around something I’ve carried with me for years. I’ve had this image in my head of a place – a room, specifically – and I know it in great detail. The thing is, I’m not sure if it exists. Did I dream it? Did I visit it once? Is it from another lifetime? I’m unsure, but I think of it often, and I long for it at times. I thought – what if I created a story around it? What would the people living there be like? So I started writing, and it took off in a way I never expected! When it comes to giving my protagonist my occupation – a tattooist – it felt like the right choice because I needed to plant at least one foot in reality when it came to the storyline. I had to be able to write what I know in that respect. Highlighting a few of the lesser seen aspects of the trade from the tattooist’s perspective helps give a little peek into what the job means to me personally, and I’m hoping it will help the reader relate to Lynna on an emotional level outside of the romance aspect.”

Of course Erin’s book is available through all good bookshops too, not just her tattoo studio. But how, you may wonder, does a tattooist in Pittsburgh come to have her debut novel published by a small indie press in South East England? Erin says: “I was encouraged to think on a broader scale when it came to seeking out a publisher, and ideally I was looking for an indie press, so I cast the net wide. When I came across Elsewhen during my search I was incredibly hopeful, since their catalogue seemed like one my story could fit into. The fact that they’re located in the UK made them all the more enticing – it’s the only place I’ve traveled outside of the continental US and I fell in love with it. Having my manuscript accepted was an absolute dream come true, and it gives me an excuse to travel more, because I’d like to meet them in person! My hope is to continue on with them for the subsequent novels in the series. I’m incredibly lucky to get to work with people this wonderful – the universe was definitely pointing me in the right direction when I landed on their website.”

Peter Buck, again, “When Erin submitted LACUNA, we read it and were immediately intrigued by the characters and their story. It was clear that it could be the start of an enthralling series, and Erin admitted that it was in fact Part One of the Chimera series she had planned and she had already written more. Like many of the books we publish, it crosses genres, defying the sort of categorisation beloved of book retailers. LACUNA is urban fantasy with a romantic thread for the main character, what is now called romantasy and is very popular with Millennial and Gen Z readers; but also a science fiction mystery, so maybe we should call it a romanscifi? Either way, it’s a great story well told and although it stands on its own as a novel, we’re looking forward to see what happens next in the series.”

LACUNA, Part One of the Chimera series, is now available in eBook from all good retailers and will be available in paperback from 6th May.

Notes for Editors

About LACUNA

Lacuna by Erin Hosfield; Artwork by Erin Hosfield
Artwork: Erin Hosfield

You can abandon your past… but your secrets won’t abandon you.

As a tattooist, it’s easy keeping people at arm’s length. Distract them with questions, and when they inevitably ask their own, reply vaguely. Lie. When the lies pile up, disappear.

It’s a cycle Lynna’s all too familiar with. Staying guarded is a necessity, but what keeps her safe is also what keeps her lonely. It’s an empty existence, hiding behind lies, and she wishes she was someone else. Someone not burdened with a secret.

A year into her most recent move, the loneliness bleeds into her work, and she admits a few truths. At the insistence of a client, she explores the city’s night scene, where she meets the enigmatic Rhys. As the months progress, so do her feelings for him, despite the risks of getting too close. When a dangerous encounter leads her straight into his arms, she abandons her past in exchange for a new beginning, only her secret refuses to be abandoned. With her life hanging by a thread, she’s forced to confess, but the secret that will change everything isn’t hers.

Set in an alternate present, LACUNA opens with Lynna’s transition to an atmospheric northwestern city. Derailed from what she’s built, she finds herself immersed in the lush world of medicinal horticulture, enveloped in the kind of close-knit relationships she always craved. Her fantasy has become reality, but not without caveat. As she plunges further into this new life, she begins to expose the conflicting threads holding it together, and what she discovers will bring more questions than answers.

Cover art: Erin Hosfield

About the Chimera series

The Chimera series is speculative fiction for the senses, a gritty urban fantasy in an alternate present, with rain-laden streets and neon lit bars. A cozy narrative behind fogged over windows, the scent of verdant herbs and earth and petrichor. A sci fi mystery layered beneath fog-shrouded skyscrapers, in a modern society juxtaposed with tradition and alchemy. An emotional tale of loss, betrayal, and the unbreakable bonds that carry us through, Chimera is a love story with ties that are thicker than blood, holding secrets that are more than skin deep.

About Erin Hosfield

Erin Hosfield
Erin Hosfield

Erin has been an artist since she was able to hold a brush, and collected her BA in Fine Art from California University with the intent of becoming a painter. After falling in love with tattooing she decided to chase that dream instead, and made it a reality in 2006.

Outside her day job, that is very much a dream job, she likes to overextend herself by means of a variety of time consuming endeavors. She’s an amateur herbalist, candlemaker, miniaturist, playlist curator, landscape painter, video game enthusiast, and most recently – novelist. Between those pursuits, she can be found having an anxiety attack from too much caffeine at her home in Pittsburgh, which she shares with her partner and two grouchy canines.