Today I am pleased to bring you an interview with A.C. Gaughen, the debut author of Scarlet. I've had the pleasure of reading Scarlet and LOVED the writing style and the story! I'll have my review of Scarlet to share later in the week, but for now I hope you enjoy A.C.'s interview.
Thanks so much for agreeing to do in interview on my blog. Since Scarlet is your debut novel, can you share with us how the idea of Scarlet came about?
I’ve always loved Robin Hood, but I never really identified with any of the girl characters. I identified with Robin, you know? Saving the world! Grand dreams enacted on a small scale. I thought that was awesome. Cut to ten years later and in my MLitt program (Scottish equivalent of an MFA), my teacher told me to drop my WIP and just write something--anything--that came to mind. I wrote Scarlet’s voice, which is pretty unique and a little odd. It was a really short piece, but I reread it a few years later, and something clicked--I KNEW who Scarlet was, I KNEW her story, and in three furious months (where I started talking/thinking in her weird pidgin English, by the by) I wrote her book.
I noticed you sent to college in Scotland. How did that opportunity come about and has it had an influence in your writing?
OMG YES! I started there as a junior year abroad student. I was coming from Mount Holyoke, where I was studying philosophy, fully intending to be a very successful, brilliant lawyer who wrote on the side; I knew writing wasn’t practical, but I enjoyed it, so I wanted it for the fun factor but not really for a career. I made my way to St Andrews and felt bottomless, suddenly--everything I knew was gone or made false. There’s such boundless potential there, such wild passion and old history and calm balance--it’s beautiful. And outside of American capitalism, my teachers there said, “If you love writing, you’re meant to be a writer. Why would you ever do anything else?” And it sounded so simple. And very true, of course. So I really started to believe in myself, believe in my potential, and believe in the power of my own dreams.
And then I didn’t come home for almost five years. They should put that on the tourism posters--Scotland will get you.
I became a teacher after volunteering with MDA in high school really ignited my desire to work with kids, so I love that you work with GLOW. Can you share a little about your work and how it impacts you?
I wear a lot of different hats (despite a giant head that my family likes to joke is the reason Gaughen rhymes with noggin) and GLOW is one of my favorites. Even within the organization I get to play different roles as they come up; we’re really young as a non-profit and that’s really exciting. I’ve planned fundraisers, organization networking events, and of course I serve as a board member, but by far my most exciting commitment is a project I’ve started with GLOW called the IGNITE Change Essay Contest--we encourage girls to write essays delineating a plan to inspire local, actionable and positive change in their communities. The girls are all coming from school systems that are overburdened and struggling, so getting in there, delivering our workshops, and encouraging these girls to believe in something that few people do--themselves--is incredibly rewarding. Giving a teen girl the chance to see that she’s capable of something greater is a really awesome feeling.
As a longtime fan of the Robin Hood story I was immediately hooked on the description of Scarlet. How much fun did you have writing this different twist in an old classic?
So much fun! Like I mentioned above, Scar’s voice really gripped me. So from there, voice wasn’t an issue, plot felt like a fun ride, and any time I got stuck I could read some of the ye olden Robin Hode ballads and watch some Men in Tights. It’s all about research. Plus, I knew so many different versions of the story that it was fun to play with details and write something that someone really familiar with the stories would appreciate but was also accessible for a newbie.
I plan on reading Scarlet as soon as I can get my hands on a copy, clearly I’m not quite the thief she is. Can you share with the readers a little about what makes Scarlet tick that they may not be able to get from the summary?
Scarlet is really haunted by her past, which is quite literally coming back to kill her, if not haunt her a little first. She and Gisbourne have a past, but there are things that happened between then and the present that she can’t even begin to get over or forgive herself for. As a reader, the writer, and an older girl, I got the advantage of looking at Scarlet and sympathizing with her “sins” as the hurts of a very young, very unprepared girl, but Scarlet feels them very deeply and they are always carried with her. She feels kind of damaged, and she works really hard for forgiveness and love. It’s one of my favorite qualities about her. And she’s a big grump. I love girls that aren’t afraid to be grumpy.
In 140 characters or less, how would Scarlet describe herself?
“I live by my knives so that others don't have to. I won't never swear to be nice, but cross one of my band and you'll know what mean is.”
Without revealing too much, will we love or hate Robin?
You will love him, then you will hate him, then you will love him again. You know what, the thing that’s true of all YA is that these guys are teenage boys! They are young and flawed because of that. And Rob is FLAWED. He is just as grumpy as Scarlet, he can be petty and insecure and even a little vengeful--totally hate-able. But then he’s also, at his heart, a hero that’s struggling with the same kind of pressures and emotional scars that Scarlet is. And he’d do absolutely anything for the people he loves and is sworn to protect. So I hope you hate him, know he’s human, and then fall MADLY in love with him.
What project are you working on now (if you can share)?
At this very moment, I’m supposed to be working very diligently on a fundraiser/essay contest for Boston GLOW, but I’m sneaking whatever time I can to write this high fantasy story that I’m kind of jazzed about. We’ll see if it goes anywhere! Also at this very moment, nothing else is under contract, so I’m enjoying being a free bird.
I love random questions, so, What is your favorite holiday food and drink?
I just had my first hot buttered rum recently, and there is definitely a reason Dickens was a fan. It’s DELICIOUS. Butter should be an ingredient in more beverages. Holiday food? My mother’s Thanksgiving stuffing. YUMMMMMM.
Thank you A.C Gaughen for this wonderful interview!
Don't forget to add Scarlet to your GoodReads list and pick up a copy when it goes on sale February 14th! You can also head on over to Facebook and "like" Scarlet's page.