AC Gaughen is the author of ‘Scarlet,’ a fantastic retelling of Robin Hood. She has been madly in love with writing since kindergarten.
Some of her earliest memories revolve around books and writing, like reading in front of the class, reading with her mother, and writing a story in first grade that was so funny (it dealt with a gorilla finding someone naked in the shower, and was, sadly, the culmination of her humor writing skills) it got her kicked out of class.
Many readers know the tale of Robin Hood, but they will be swept away by this new version full of action, secrets, and romance.
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. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff 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.
Why do you feel you had to tell this story?
On the one hand, I will fully admit that I think Scarlet told the story more than I did. I can’t even explain how this story just materialized in my head. However, I will also say that as a kid, I was PISSED that Robin Hood had such a thing for the simpering, stupid Maid Marian. I mean, the fox in the pink dress was a good dancer, but seriously? She never jail-broke baby raccoons. (Um, if you don’t know what version of Robin Hood I’m talking about, I swear I’m not crazy). She wasn’t brave or exciting or any of the wonderful things Robin was–so how could he fall in love with HER?! I wanted a much cooler girl for Rob. And in every version of Robin Hood, Will Scarlet seems to be hiding something. I just thought that might be his true gender.
In your world Will Scarlet is secretly a girl. Was it difficult to write the story with a female perspective?
Scarlet is no ordinary girl, so honestly, I don’t know if it was female perspective or just her voice that made the story so incredibly EASY to write. I hate to say it, but I can’t really take credit. I just knew her voice from the start and it let me into her world–seeing this world from her eyes was engrossing. As a writer, I loved it.
What was your favorite chapter/scene to write and why?
This is actually a very interesting question, because the answer totally changed. In responding to my editorial letter, I tried to fill in a lot more of Scarlet’s backstory, and even a little of Rob’s. And I wrote in this one scene where they’re fighting–physically fighting against one another–and also having an argument at the same time. They make these confessions about what they think are the worst things they’ve done and I love it.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
I kind of like backwards compliments. Once a writing teacher told me, “I don’t like this genre at all, but I like this.” I like the idea that maybe I can change people’s preconceptions. That’s pretty cool. Toughest criticism? I think, for a writer, reality is a pretty tough criticism. Statistically speaking, it’s unlikely you’ll ever make a living solely as a writer. I think it’s very tough for women right now in any career, considering that, world wide, we work almost double the hours men do but make 3/4ths the salary. I think the world tells you in many, many ways that you can’t–and it’s a writer’s job to dream up the ways that you just might be able to.
Where’s your favorite place to write?
I love to write at Panera. It’s like home with food you don’t have to cook and a refillable soda machine. I love it there. I love a lot of activity so I can zone out when I write.
What is easier to write: The first line or the last line?
FIRST!! I never changed the first line of SCARLET from first scribble to final draft. The last line…oof. I hate writing endings. I got my start writing stories to entertain myself as a kid, and they never had endings. It just seemed depressing. So I still struggle–I don’t have much practice!
What one YA novel do you wish you had when you were a teen?
REVOLUTION, by Jennifer Donnelly. I think if I had studied it in formative years, it would have made me a better writer. That thing…that is just some gorgeous craft right there. Other than that? Hmm…probably Libba Bray’s GEMMA DOYLE series. I remember cradling the final book and sobbing as an adult so I think that would have been pretty emotional to read as a teen.
Where to Find AC Gaughen and Scarlet