I’m so proud to introduce you all to AC Gaughen, a talented author and an amazing critique partner. This Tuesday, her latest novel LADY THIEF released. I read its predecessor SCARLET (see review here) and found it to be a highly imaginative and unique retelling of Robin Hood. I was lucky to interview Annie to get a little background on the series. Check out what she had to say, plus read below the interview for information on LADY THIEF. I highly recommend this series!

ScarletUS.indd   ladythief

Q: Okay, so I read SCARLET, and I’ve already fangirled you (and I cannot wait to get my hands on LADY THIEF). You chose such an original approach to Robin Hood by making Scarlet, a traditionally male character, female. What inspired your creation of Scarlet, a strong female heroine in any time period?

A: I wanted to make a female character that was grumpy and angry and mean and spoke to a lot of the things that I was at that point struggling to accept in myself.  Can you still be loved and be angry and wrong and stubborn?  I’ve always thought YES, and I wanted to write that into existence.  A lot of writing feels like being a fortune teller, and if you write it, by the power of suggestion it will become true.  So yes, I wanted to show myself and a lot of other women that girls don’t have to be perfect to be loved.

Q: In LADY THIEF, you introduce Eleanor of Aquitaine. Can you tell us what it was like to write a historical figure?

A: THIS historical figure is everything to me!  She was so cool. She’s a rockstar of history–essentially a very talented PR maven, an incredibly tough mother, and a very passionate and manipulative wife.  She’s so complicated and utterly unapologetic.  Writing her–getting to empathize with her for a few brief moments–has been one of the highlights of the whole series.  She’s just so cool.  And then, that kind of excitement for a character makes researching her a total joy.  For example, a lot of people don’t know that the notion of “courtly love” came from her–she and her daughter would actually hold “courts of love” and “try” lovers for their light-hearted disputes.

Q: Let’s get down to the important question. Rob. Rob. Rob. He is one very hot thief. The tension between Scarlet and him burns the pages, but so far they haven’t acted on it. Please, please tell me that Scarlet is going to get some love from Rob in her future.

A: Yes.

Ha!  Ok, I’ll say a little more.  Scarlet and Rob–come on, they’re done for.  Their love is LEGENDARY and trying to live up to that in a series and still totally feeling every moment of it is definitely a challenge, but yes.  In LADY THIEF, they have their first kiss–one of my FAVORITE scenes!–and they definitely get to bask in the sweetness of loving each other–even if that love is constantly, if not tortuously, tested.
Q: At the end of SCARLET, things aren’t so great for Rob. Without giving too much away, can you talk about how you approached PTSD in a historical novel?
A: It was surprisingly easy.  Mostly because I think this term PTSD is new, but this scarring that occurs after warfare is so incredibly common when we look back into history.  Worse, when you’re living in a medieval society in which the everyday brutality of which closely mimics the brutality of war, there’s a lot of blurring going on–they even quite literally mimic war for the tournaments.It was easy because it felt very real to me how that would have manifested for Rob.  How strongly he would have felt that, and then been thrown into spirals of shame, guilt, pain and confusion.  And I think LADY THIEF suffers a lot of consequences for all of the characters–there is no easy way to run away from what Rob suffered in the Crusades, and there are no easy answers and certainly no easy choices for Scarlet.
I will say the part that wasn’t at all easy was trying to represent with dignity and accuracy how incredibly painful and complicated PTSD can be, and how many people around the one who is suffering it can effect.  Ultimately, the story is told from Scarlet’s perspective, and she has really difficult choices to make about how to support him and protect herself at the same time.  There’s no easy road there.
Q: In addition to the massive amount of research that you did for this series, you also introduced a unique dialect for Scarlet’s character. It was one of my favorite things about SCARLET, and something that is so difficult for an author to pull off. Can you share some words of advice on writing dialect?
A: Stick to rules.  Her dialect really came out of an intellectual curiosity on my part–how did people learn English with all its complicated rules without formal training?  I had her dipping in and out of all of these things, and my editor told me that–make rules, and stick to them.  The two rules I had were 1.  She uses “were” instead of “was”, and 2. She doesn’t use very many adverbs (there are some exceptions to this for clarity purposes) except “honestly”.  Because she’s dishonest.  Get it?

Q: And now for a quick round!

Favorite YA Author:  Can’t pick just one!  All time: Tamora Pierce.  Then Libba Bray.  Then Meg Cabot.

Favorite Writing Deadline Food:  Diet Coke.

Where You Write:  Panera!  Free refills on the diet coke!!

The question you never get asked but wished you would get asked:  I don’t know if it’s a question, but I always want the chance to explain more about John.  A) I never intended for him to be seen as a point in a love triangle–it always seemed obvious that when you come to the big twist in SCARLET, you know Rob and Scar are all-time.  B) People call him a creeper, or say Scar is a little shameless with him, but to me they hit that weird line that you sometimes hit with opposite sex friends, when you really can’t tell the difference between friend love and love love.  I think Scar just figures it out a lot faster.



LADY THIEF (Scarlet #2) by AC Gaughen

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Scarlet’s true identity has been revealed, but her future is uncertain. Her forced marriage to Lord Gisbourne threatens Robin and Scarlet’s love, and as the royal court descends upon Nottingham for the appointment of a new Sheriff, the people of Nottingham hope that Prince John will appoint their beloved Robin Hood. But Prince John has different plans for Nottingham that revolve around a fateful secret from Scarlet’s past even she isn’t yet aware of. Forced to participate at court alongside her ruthless husband, Scarlet must bide her time and act the part of a noblewoman—a worthy sacrifice if it means helping Robin’s cause and a chance at a future with the man she loves. With a fresh line of intrigue and as much passion as ever, the next chapter in Scarlet’s tale will have readers talking once again.