Imagine a place where the line between reality and fantasy frays. One moment you are certain you are grounded, but another step and you suspect you may have entered a place more enchanted than you first thought.

This is the late-1990s Charlotte, North Carolina landscape Bill Becker wanders through in George Hovis’, debut novel, “The Skin Artist.” The novel will be released by metro Atlanta based publisher SFK Press this May.

“I grew up in rural North Carolina and then left home to work in the ‘big city’ of Charlotte. That dislocation was both exciting and worrisome to me,” Hovis said. “Deep down I feared I was doing irrevocable damage to my ‘soul,’ and yet I felt helpless to resist modernity’s charms.”

This simultaneous slam of desire and fear serves as the emotional catalyst for ‘The Skin Artist.’ Combined with the backdrop of explosive city growth and the rising popularity of tattoo culture, ‘The Skin Artist’ has a tantalizing canvas to dance characters across.

“Bill’s journey is one that grapples with grief, addiction, displacement, and a lost sense of self—the times when we feel the fabric of reality begin to tear,” SFK Press publisher Steve McCondichie said. “There’s no map to stitch life back together when that happens. And sometimes we find ourselves moving to darker places before we can find any hope to lift us up.”

The morning Bill Becker awakes to find the butterfly tattoo bleeding on his chest, his upwardly mobile life begins its harrowing downward spiral. Exiled from a corporate career and from the failed marriage he left behind in a gated Charlotte community, Bill becomes obsessed with a tattooed dancer named Lucy, who is running from a trauma buried deep in her own past. Lucy and Bill wrap themselves in new skins of ink, wrought by the same artist, a “shaman” who convinces them that every design will alter their future. Ultimately, both Bill and Lucy must leave the city and return to the Carolina countryside to confront the skins they have shed many years ago.

George Hovis attended graduate school at Chapel Hill, where he was mentored by Clyde Edgerton and the late Max Steele. He has participated in the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and his stories and essays have appeared in “The Carolina Quarterly,” “The Fourth River,” and “North Carolina Literary Review.” A native of North Carolina, he lives with his wife and two children in Upstate New York. He teaches English literature and creative writing at SUNY Oneonta.

Praise for “The Skin Artist”:

“Dark, sexy, and compulsively readable…It’s hard to believe this is a first novel. Hovis has created an old-fashioned morality tale set against some of the most garish manifestations of the Sunbelt.”
—Lee Smith, author of “Dimestore” and “The Last Girls”

“Out of America’s age of information, image, tattoo, and Adam and Eve eroticism comes a tightly written novel about addiction, family, and religion. Hovis’ first novel—it never slows down one iota—is an extraordinary debut.”
—Clyde Edgerton, author of “The Floatplane Notebooks” and “Raney”

More information about “The Skin Artist” can be found at:

Media Kit for “The Skin Artist” is available here:

For review copies and interview requests, email or call (770) 683-1239.

Purchase “The Skin Artist” May 7 from your favorite local Southern independent bookseller or online.

Book release party will be held at The Green Toad Bookstore (198 Main St, Oneonta, New York 13820) on Tuesday, May 14, 2019 at 5:30 pm. Free and open to the public.

Tagged: George Hovis, Press Releases, SFK Press, The Skin Artist