SPRINGFIELD, Ohio — Already hailed by Publishers Weekly as an “up-and-coming mystery writer” following the success of his first novel, Oyster Blues, Michael McClelland, Wittenberg University assistant professor of English, has again captured the attention of critics with his latest release, Tattoo Blues, a witty crime novel set in Cedar Key, Fla.
“It’s a dream come true to have it happen once, let alone twice,” McClelland said.
Filled with McClelland’s unique blend of quirky characters, including runaway rich kid Desiree Dean, community sage Tee Nichols, renegade marine biologist Dr. Beelzebubba and Molly, the flatulent manatee, Tattoo Blues has been called a “wildy comic voice!” with a “cast of unforgettable characters,” “a plot full of wicked surprises” and “dialogue that sparkles with wit.”
“Riotously funny, McClelland is back and better than ever,” noted another reviewer. “Where his first book, Oyster Blues, was but an appetizer, Tattoo Blues is like a main course.”
Midwest Book Review also praised McClelland’s writing style, calling it “original and refreshing,” adding that he “has the talent to put people in impossible situations and have them find a way to do what is right even if it costs them a boatload of money.”
Similar to Oyster Blues, the idea for Tattoo Blues stemmed from a situation McClelland experienced during his time in Florida. While standing in line, McClelland noticed that the woman ahead of him had a Chinese symbol tattooed on the nape of her neck. Curious, McClelland approached the woman and questioned her about the symbol’s meaning. The woman then informed him that it was a secret symbol, which no one knew or understood but her.
"I couldn't help but wonder if she even knew what that tattoo meant, and that got me wondering how many people are wandering around with tattoos that mean something far different from what they believe,” McClelland explained. “Why would a tattoo artist do that, and what would happen when the tattooed person found out? The story just took off from there."
Already set to write a third novel, tentatively titled Arribadas Blues, based in Panama City, Fla., McClelland is grateful for Wittenberg’s support. In addition to the $1,500 faculty research grant he received from the university to further his writing, McClelland also continues to garner accolades from the Wittenberg community.
“I’ve had tremendous support from my colleagues and students,” McClelland said. “They all congratulate me and ask me when the next book is coming out.”
A former journalist with UPI and the Florida Freedom chain of newspapers, McClelland received his B.A. in English, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in creative writing from Florida State University. He joined the Wittenberg faculty in 2000.
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