Book DescriptionSam Blanco is a young tattoo artist trying to get out of L.A. by earning money selling his talent to a prominent local gang. His life is thrown into chaos after giving a very special tattoo to the the gang leader’s beautiful girlfriend. Sam winds up torn between the desire for the girlfriend’s attention and craving the friendship of the gang leader he’s come to see as a brother. Who will ultimately pay the price for love?
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Sam Blanco Character SpotlightSam is the quintessential big brother, a role that defines his life, particularly after he and his younger sister, Celine, are left to fend for themselves in their dangerous Central Los Angeles neighborhood. He takes advantage of his artistic skill and connections with the local gang, Los Leones, to earn enough money selling tattoos to hopefully move himself and his sister to a safer locale, away from their abusive father.
Sam dreams of one day opening his own shop and becoming a famous tattoo artist like his idol, the beautiful Toni Valentine. However, through a series of bad decisions, he ends up in an impossible situation that only has two ways out: leave town or die at the hands of a driven and vengeful drug lord.
The young tattooist is artistically brilliant, possesses an uncannily accurate memory, and manages to float through his high school years without making much effort thanks to his innate talents. His weaknesses are the stars in his eyes and his gradually evolving penchant for getting wrapped up with beautiful women who he probably shouldn't get involved with. During the course of the book, he learns some very valuable, yet dangerous lessons that propel him into the second book in the series.
Sam's InspirationSam's character first came into being while I was writing another story and needed a side character to fill the role of a rough and world-weary tattoo artist approaching his 50s. The character sprang to life so vividly in my mind at the time that I just had to know what his life story was, so I began writing it, beginning with the character as a teenager.
This is that story, which begins with a fifteen-year-old Sam, a young aspiring artist with big dreams, but almost insurmountable hurdles to overcome to reach those dreams. Above all, he wishes to shed his past and the legacy of his father's name he carries with him every day. Sam's life quest is to find a way to don a new skin and leave his old one behind.
That older man I first imagined as Sam in his later years emerged as a fully realized character who has already been through significant trials and come out the other side. Here's a brief excerpt from my notes on Sam as he begins to evolve into that man after the end of Second Skin, (these may or may not show up in the actual books):
One thing I never counted on during the entire stint with the Marines was how much it would change me. I was pretty sure I knew who I was when I joined. When I shipped out I was hellbent on not letting the military dictate who I could or couldn't be. I still kept those pieces of me, but it was like they'd been shattered and reincorporated into some strange mosaic. I recognized the person I'd become, but I wasn't sure anyone else I knew outside the military would have known me. Then that image was shattered again, and again, the pieces fitting together differently each time.
Just when I thought all the re-making had hardened me beyond the point of breaking, the war started, and I learned how one hard blow could simply turn me to dust. The person who emerged from that barely resembled the man I'd been.
Sam was partly inspired by the character of John McClane from the Die Hard movies (just imagine him as an eighteen-year old about to join the military), and partly by a video game character Zaeed Massani, from the popular video RPG, Mass Effect.
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