PW #333: Young Adult Speculative Thriller (LGBTQ): EARNEST INK

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor Name: Leigh Mar

Mentee Name: Alex Hall


Category: Young Adult

Genre: Speculative Thriller (LGBTQ)

Word Count: 72,000


17-year-old trans boy Hemingway is hawking magical tattoos for high prices when NYC’s East River Ripper abducts his best friend. With only days to save her Hemingway chases clues to the serial killer’s identity but begins to fear the magic they share might eventually corrupt him too.



I work without speaking because that’s the way I prefer it. The vibration of my machine, the softer buzz of the fluorescent lights overhead, the tap of my foot on the pedal – it’s the best music in the world.

When I hit a ticklish spot the girl I’m working on gasps, jolting in my chair.

“Don’t move,” I say. And then, with a salesman’s false cheer: “Almost done!”

The girl is sweating down the crook of her jaw. She’s got silver glitter paint on her eyelids and cheeks, a new fashion I can’t quite get behind. Under my lights the mix of perspiration and makeup looks like a blurry constellation of stars.

She wanted a bee inked onto her collarbone, one of those tiny honey bees you find on good tequila bottles. Easily done, and she met the cash requirement. She’s eager, nervous, and a little drunk off the cheap wine she swallowed out of a belt flask before sitting in my chair.

I can’t remember her name, but that’s fine. Customer relations is Eric’s job.

“Does it hurt?” The kid leaning over my glass counter, watching eagerly as I work, asks. “When the magic happens?”

The bee’s fat yellow thorax wriggles from side to side as it begins to wake, fighting the pressure of my needle, hungry for life.

“It looks like it hurts,” the kid says. I ignore him.

One minute more and—thanks to my peculiar magic—this bee will fly free.

13 comments to PW #333: Young Adult Speculative Thriller (LGBTQ): EARNEST INK

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