Dear Lisbeth Salander: Honest, Tough Advice from the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

This week's guest columnist is Lisbeth Salander, who's a hacker but not a hack, Wasp but not a WASP, and an all-around tough-as-nails badass.

Dear Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,

I am a big fan of yours and admire all that you do. I hope you can help me with my problem. It is an enormous one and I don’t know where to turn!

The issue has to do with my mother-in-law. Holidays are miserable with her, and I dread every single time I have to see her. She criticizes everything about me and my life. Now, my husband has told me that she will be coming on vacation with us in July. I was looking forward to going away for two weeks to a lake resort, and now those two weeks stand to be completely ruined! Add to that, I have just gotten my first tattoo—a fantastic ink of a Harley Davidson motorcycle with flames shooting off the sides of the bike. It is on my back and I love it! I have attached a picture of my tat for you to see.

Unfortunately, I know that I will have to hide it from her. My mother-in-law is a nasty type, thinks only sluts get tattoos, and will refer to me as the “Tattooed Lady” forever if she sees it. What can I do? Please help!” 

Tat Too

Dear Tat Too,

I like your little play on the word tattoo. But, wow! Seriously? You’re afraid to show off a tat that you love because of some old bitch?! Well let me say that you have written to the right woman. As you may already know from reading the promo for this column, I intend to pull no punches when it comes to advice and I am going to let you have it in a blunt, hard-core manner. 

First off, no way are you going to hide this kick-ass tattoo. This is great ink! Hiding it would be a sin and you know that I don’t use the word sin lightly. I am assuming that your husband is a wimp and won’t stand up for you but listen Tat Too, I found out long ago that a girl has to fight her own battles and can’t depend on anyone else to solve her problem.

So here’s my advice. First, buy a taser. Pick a time when your wimpy man is out, invite nasty mom-in-law over for a beer, and make sure that she sees the tattoo right off. Before she gets a chance to say even one word, tell her that she has two choices about your tattoo and your vacation. Choice one is that she can make nasty comments about your tattoo, call you names, and completely ruin your vacation. Choice two is the sensible thing, which is to say nothing about the tattoo, your lifestyle, and no name-calling. Let her know immediately that if she makes the second choice she can keep on living a normal life without worrying that something very bad is going to happen to her at any minute of the day or night—like getting set on fire, having her teeth knocked out, or accidentally falling out of a 3rd floor window. Use the taser to get your point across. Be blunt, be real, take no prisoners.

By the way, Tat Too, I have another suggestion for you. Before July comes, get a nose ring. And don’t forget to pack your taser along with your sunscreen, just in case.

Lisbeth, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo


Kristen Houghton is the author of nine top-selling novels, including the best-selling new series, A Cate Harlow Private Investigation. She is hard at work on book 3 in the series.

She is also the author of two non-fiction books. Her short stories appear in many anthologies. Kristen is a former linguistics teacher.


  1. Kristen Howell

    Yes!!!!!!! I miss Larson’s Lisbeth. The new one not written by him is a dud. I like what you wrote. I’m also a fan of your books. Please write more Dear Girl With the DRagon Tattoo advice!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. michel ferris

    I wish all advice columns were as blunt as this fictional one. Thank you Ms. Houghton for making my day with your column. Ferryboat

  3. willa pode

    So much better than regular advice by female writers! I love it. I am a big fan of Stieg Larson’s books and loved both film versions of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Kristen Houghton has done a really good job in her take on Lisbeth Salander as an advice columnist. Let’s have more of her!

  4. michel ferris

    Kristen, Curious if you would consider taking real emails for Dear Girl…
    I think it would be fun.

  5. nala

    Lisbeth Salander is a perfect person to give advice. Why? She sugar coats nothing and ssays what we all would like to say to people. Worth the read.

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