Writer’s Ink: Sean Williams

Today’s episode of Writer’s Ink features Sean Williams, an Australian author with a Whole Lot of published fiction, including the #1 New York Times bestselling The Force Unleashed. One of his latest books is Twinmaker [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy], “set in a future where “d-mat” technology, which allows for cheap teleportation and item replication, has created a seeming utopia of plenty.”

Here’s Sean showing off his ink:


In his words:

My plan is to get one tattoo for every book I have published. Unfortunately, because I’ve had trouble coming up with designs, I’ve fallen a bit behind. I currently have one tattoo. My forty-seventh book comes out in November.

I didn’t get my one and only tattoo until I turned thirty, after a string of failed romances. I was feeling pretty glum and needed to do something for myself, something defining and privately declarative, and eventually I came up with the perfect design for a place that normally only someone close to me would ever see. This was way back in the dawn of time, before everyone had a Chinese character on their upper shoulder.

The design comes from the I Ching. Hexagram 23, “Splitting Apart”, is usually associated with disintegration and decay, which seemed appropriate after all that heartbreak. It has a deeper meaning, though, as all hexagrams do, and it is this meaning that I wanted to be permanently etched into me. It goes something like this:

You have a cherry tree. It’s diseased and dying, which is obviously bad. But as long as there’s one cherry left on it with a viable seed, you can start over. You can grow a new, healthy tree from scratch to replace the old tree.


My tattoo is the character associated with that hexagram, since hexagrams themselves are hard to tattoo well and tend to warp with age. I may have got it wrong, it may mean “massive prat” if you say it the wrong way, but the story behind it has got me through some very difficult times in my personal and professional life. I’m glad it’s there.

My next two tattoos will be an infinity symbol and the outline of Mr Mischievous’s grin. All I have to do now is figure out where to put them. Decisions, decisions.

I told him that if he decided to catch up on those 46 other tattoos all at once, I’d be happy to have him back for a special edition of Writer’s Ink. But in the meantime, here’s a close-up of his tattoo:

Sean Williams Tatto