Friday, February 3, 2012

Class of 2K12 Interview with A.C. Gaughen, SCARLET

Today, I'm excited to interview A. C. Gaughen, author of SCARLET!
    Scarlet, by A. C. Gaughen arrives February 14, 2012, from Bloomsbury/Walker, for ages 12 and up.  And isn't this one of the coolest covers you've ever seen?

    Synopsis (from the publisher):  Many readers know the tale of Robin Hood, but they will be swept away by this new version full of action, secrets, and romance, from debut author A. C. Gaughen. Posing as one of Robin Hood's thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. When the heat turns on the band of thieves as the Sheriff of Nottingham seeks revenge, the romance burns strong between Scarlet and her flirtatious fellow outlaws. Helping the people of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in. It's only her fierce loyalty to Robin-whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her-that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for.

A.C. Gaughen

     A.C. Gaughen has been a concierge, a personal shopper, a handbag saleswoman, a wrapper (often and understandably confused with the homonym without a “w”), a call center phone-line answerer, a tour guide for the Commonwealth, a blogger, a writer of research articles like “How to Grind with a Boy”, and, most memorably, someone who couldn’t hang a shirt on a hanger correctly.  Through all of these, however, she’s also been a young adult author, and is thrilled to be publishing her debut novel, Scarlet, with Bloomsbury/Walker.

A.C.'s website

    Welcome to My Brain on Books!  First I'd love to know: do you outline before you write? If so, does it end up changing before you finish the first draft? What change surprised you the most?

I like to think I’m a problem solving writer.  I get very excited about an idea or a thought and I write whatever I can, and then I hit a snag and I have to work it out.  Sometimes that’s outlining from there, sometimes it’s stream-of-consciousness writing until I figure it out, but I can generally make it happen and write again--until I hit another snag!  In my experience, outlines rarely work out the way you want them to.  Writing is full of surprises!

    How long did it take to go from the idea for the book to the draft your editor accepted? Was it months or years? Did you go through endless revisions, beta readers, etc, before starting the submission process? Did you ever want to pull out your hair?

So, as a writer who unsuccessfully tried to sell a book for YEARS before I wrote Scarlet, even I get frustrated by my answer to this question.  I wrote Scarlet in three months; I finished it in December ’09.  By the end of January 2010, my agent had offered representation based on Scarlet, and in July of 2010 we were offered the book contract with Bloomsbury/Walker.  Now, I will say, my agent and the publishing house negotiated the contract for six agonizing months, so that was really nerve wracking (I emailed my agent weekly asking, “But, they can’t like, say ‘no’ now, can they?  This won’t just disappear?”).  I did a quick revision with my agent before she submitted it, but honestly Scarlet has always felt to me like a totally magical novel.  I have no idea how it came to be!

   Tell us a little about getting your agent. How many queries did you send out? How long did it take before you got an offer of representation?

3 years, 3 novels, and roughly sixty queries.  Several close misses, too--I honestly can’t say enough that kind of like falling in love, the right one comes along at the right time.  And it just works! 

    Do you revise one novel while writing another? Or do you feel you need to write and revise one novel and get it as polished as possible before moving on to your shiny new idea?

With Scarlet all I could do was write Scar.  My head was so full of her voice that I even started talking like that for a while (and once you read the book you’ll know that doesn’t exactly jive for a well-educated girl in the 21st century...).  Bizarre.  On the book I just finished writing (future unknown), I had to keep “vent” projects going on the side because the subject matter was just really hard for me to write and I had to get my sense of whimsy and fun out in other places. 

   Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate while writing? And where do you write? Briefly describe your writing space.

Tea!  I’m not a coffee drinker, and frankly I can’t handle the sugar in hot chocolate (though man is it tasty...).  I write at work (I man a desk overnight) and at Panera.  I LOVE writing in Panera.  Free refills, nice fires, comfy seats...what’s not to love?  I camp out there and zone out. 

Thanks for joining us today, A. C.  Looking forward to your release date so I can buy the book!


  1. Great interview. I love to hear about authors that had a few rejections and it took a couple years to get published. I'm excited to read this.

  2. That is a gorgeous cover and a great story premise. Thanks for the interview!

    1. Thanks, Myrna. Yeah, I'm drooling over that cover. I'm upset that I never got an ARC of this and have to wait until the 14th to read it.

  3. What an intriguing premise! I'll be on the lookout for this one. Thank you for the interview, both sides of it. Stories of to-publishing keep me going.

    1. Oh yes, Barbara. They keep me going too! I admire how much patience she had, to tough it out for three years and three different novels.

  4. What a great interview! I love when authors share their story and show the perserverence it takes to be a published writer. The cover is definitely amazing and the concept sounds like a great read. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks, Jennifer! Yep, the internet is great for sharing these kinds of inspiring stories.

  5. You're right about the cover, Joanne--and the story sounds magical!

    To all of us in the trenches, I think A.C's story of the road to publication is the norm. Struggle! Just remember that when you read those outliers who tell you, "I whipped out the novel in a couple of weekends, got an agent the following Wednesday, the six-figure advance on the Friday and will be published by the end of the month." These are the stories that make everyone sit up, but they are the exception, not the rule. (And of course, being a Mafioso, I exaggerated the timeline. Just a little.)

    1. Ha ha, Michael! Just a teeny bit. But yes, it's always inspiring to learn about an author who persevered for three years or more.

  6. Replies
    1. Oh Caroline! You are so lucky. I never saw an ARC of this, so I had to order the book. Looking forward to reading it.


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