We are immensely proud of former apprentice Alison Belsham who has hit the big time with a striking contemporary crime novel. With The Tattoo Thief she has not only found the right story—she has taken success to a whole new level.

“… as an unpublished author, one of the hardest things to do is to find your story—the story that suits your unique voice and that you can bring to the world with confidence.”

There was never any question about Alison’s talent. She was selected for our Apprenticeships programme in 2009 and was mentored by Adventures director, Marion Urch. After trying out different genres, she turned to crime. In 2016, she pitched The Tattoo Thief at the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival and won. She signed up with agent Jenny Brown and the novel was published by Trapeze Books in May 2018. It is now an international bestseller.

“I didn’t know what my story was for many years. Then, in November 2015, I flew to Berlin to get my tattoo. …That night, as I lay on the crisp white hotel sheets leaving the outline of my new tattoo in indelible black ink, my story came to me…. A tattoo is something you have forever. No one can take it away from you. But what if someone did? The Tattoo Thief was born, in the small hours, in a Berlin Hotel room.”

Alison on the Apprenticeships scheme:

“Going through the Apprenticeship scheme was immensely valuable to me – it quite literally taught me all the basics I needed to know to become a proficient writer. Not only did I learn about the technicalities of writing, but also about the business of being a writer and getting published. Although Domino, the novel with which I entered the scheme, wasn’t successful, it paved the way for my move into crime fiction and was certainly instrumental in the success I’ve so far enjoyed with The Tattoo Thief. I would recommend it to anybody who’s serious about forging a career in writing.”


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