Today, in the Forum, I have the pleasure of introducing Scarlet James, who is here to talk about her novel Uncontrolled Desires.
Tim Greaton: To a lot of people, Scarlet, you seem to be
an overachiever. Could you explain to our audience what I mean?
Scarlet James: Sure. I recently graduated from ICDC with an Associate’s degree in Homeland Security. Now, I am pursuing my certificate in Public Relations to better understand the business of entertainment and media. I am very goal oriented and have recently started my own entertainment business as well. I currently manage a singer who performs songs by Conway Twitty.
Tim Greaton: Where you also so busy in childhood?
Scarlet James: Well to be honest, yes. I was pretty much a tomboy growing up, but my interests expanded when my truck driver dad took me with him one summer. Being a teenager stuck in a big rig wasn’t all that pleasant, but while seeing the country I discovered that I had a knack for writing stories. Once home, I got involved in theatre as well as writing. I loved it. I was also busy with sports, and especially loved high school basketball. Adding to all of that, I was a member of the police explorers in my home town when I was about 14 or 15 maybe.
Tim Greaton: A lot of writers point to a particular relative who positively influenced their career. That wasn’t true for you, though, was it?
Scarlet James: Growing up I never had any role models or positive influences. I tried to hide my writing efforts but once they were discovered, I was down-graded and insulted by my family members. To be honest, those barbs pushed me to keep working. I knew that I had something resembling a gift at a young age, and I try every day to get back to that place. From time to time I still get negative remarks, but rather than let those naysayers get me down, I work that much harder to prove them wrong.
Tim Greaton: As if you didn’t have enough going on, you have also started an online venture. Could you tell us about that?
Scarlet James: I am in the midst of building an online magazine site. Once fully established, we will also release print versions of each edition.
Tim Greaton: So, I understand that you had a mix of sports and art interests in your background, but what led you to pursue a degree in Homeland Security?
Scarlet James: Computers were always easy for me, and my teen work with the police gave me an interest in profiling and criminal investigations. I also learned a certain police-caution, which gives me a second sense about suspicious behavior and when things are not quite right. Sometimes, I can even guess how events might turn out.
Tim Greaton: What kinds of books do you read? Are they in the same genres in which you write?
Scarlet James: When I have time, I love to read Nicholas Sparks, Danielle Steele and Stephen King as well as a few others. I like to mix it up as I do with my writing. I write in different genres, depending on my mood at the time.
Tim Greaton: You have a deep enjoyment for travel. How does that influence your writing?
Scarlet James: I really got inspired while on the road with my parents for two months. I did a lot of writing during that period, and it allowed my mind to open up. One especially inspiring trip took place when I was 17 in Florida. Something about the beach air and the ocean makes me come alive. I did some of my best writing while sitting on the beach overlooking the ocean and open sky. A lot of years have passed since then but two years ago, while in South Carolina, I experienced a similar awakening. That’s when I began the novel I’m working on now.
Tim Greaton: You’ve received a lot of positive comments about descriptions in your stories, but you also hear another comment fairly often. Could you share that with us?
Scarlet James: My early readers commented about the creativity and surprising detail in the seven books I wrote in a five-year period. One of those books has now been published. I’ve tried to build on that creativity and attention to detail. I now work with an agent who was especially surprised how well I write about the feelings of characters with the opposite sex. She encouraged me to keep that up as well.
Tim Greaton: So which of your works are available to purchase right now?
Scarlet James: Uncontrolled Desires is available in e-book and will soon be released in paperback. All Messed up and Crazy for You will be released soon through a new publishing group. I hope to receive the proofs soon.
Tim Greaton: As a young teen, you were inspired by one famous storyteller. Do you remember who I mean?
Scarlet James: Sure: Walt Disney. When I was 12 or 13, we went to Walt Disney World in Florida. Seeing his stories in three dimensions was absolutely magical, and even though it was at that age when we all tell ourselves we’re not kids anymore, I fell head-over-heels for the entire place. I might as well have been 4 years old again. I had to see every colorful thing and had to get my picture taken with as many characters as I could.
Tim Greaton: Have you ever met a memorable person that you have copied in your fiction?
Scarlet James: We’ve all met memorable people, and the main character from my novel Uncontrolled Desires is definitely based on a real person.
Tim Greaton: Is there a book or a story that truly impacted your life in a HUGE way?
Scarlet James: Yes. Misery by Stephen King gave me nightmares. It also makes me cautious as I travel and meet fans and coworkers in the writing world. Stephen King is one of my favorites. I also loved Misery, the movie.
Tim Greaton: What is your writing “system” like, and how has it evolved over the course of your career?
Scarlet James: I am constantly switching back and forth between my magazine and my novels. It has to do with motivation. When one becomes a chore, I back off and work on the other. I write mostly at night. I’m not sure why evening hours inspire me, but I’ve been that way since the age of 14, which is when I starting getting serious with my writing. I also have to have only music on. Any other noise easily distracts me.
Tim Greaton: Do you work with beta readers in your family or circle of friends?
Scarlet James: No, not in my family. I have had friends who helped. We all make mistakes, and it really helps to have an outsider catch those things we miss.
Tim Greaton: Which author do you model your work after, or do you not see any parallels with past works you’ve read.
Scarlet James: I’m often so busy with projects that I seldom have time for fiction reading. That said, I would like to model my work after Nicholas Sparks or Danielle Steel. I would love to be the next queen of romantic comedy.
Tim Greaton: Do you think of yourself as a particular type of writer?
Scarlet James: No I don’t think so. I know when people ask me what I write I tell them romance/drama/comedy, but lately I have been moving more toward thrillers and suspense.
Tim Greaton: What is your most recent book/story release? And could you tell us about it?
Scarlet James: Uncontrolled Desires is about a PGA golfer, now instructor, who grows up with a lot of problems. He had searched for his mother only to learn she died while giving birth. He deals with depression, sexual addictions and obsessions as well as drugs and a wild, out-of-control lifestyle. His involvement with cyber dating and outside relationships leads to murder and foul play. The story was fascinating and took some delicacy to write, and I think a lot of teenagers would find it interesting because of the way the character fantasizes about young girls and finds himself in trouble because of it. He gets involved with a woman online, and she agrees to write his life story…but that’s when things get messy. I suspect the story would be a must-read for anyone with addiction problems, mental illness, overt sexual desires and such.
Tim Greaton: What led you to tell this particular story?
Scarlet James: A man approached me back in 2006, about this story actually. Though Uncontrolled Desires is based on him, there are fictional aspects that made it more tolerable for me. I flew to his home in Las Vegas twice and interviewed several people involved in the story before I wrote it.
Tim Greaton: Will there be a sequel?
Scarlet James: No sequels are planned. I am currently working on another love story/romantic drama/satire and then will tackle a novel about a police detective who falls crazy-in-love with a columnist writer who works for a popular magazine.
Tim Greaton: Which part of Uncontrolled Desires was the most difficult to write?
Scarlet James: Wow. I would have to say the main character Greg was the most difficult part. He had a great deal of problems, and being a parent of two wonderful children made it hard. Greg would pretend to be various young boys online so girls would send him nude pictures and even have phone sex with him. Learning about this guy really disturbed me, but it also made me realize that writing his story might well keep others safe.
Tim Greaton: What about your past made you decide on this book?
Scarlet James: I wasn’t sure I wanted to tackle this story when I was first approached with the idea. But ultimately I decided that writing outside of my own experience would be a great way to grow as an author.
Tim Greaton: If any one of the characters could appear in your world right now, which one would you choose and why?
Scarlet James: Maybe you haven’t been listening (she says with a smirk). I don’t think I want any of them to pop out.
(Once I stop laughing, our interview continues….)
Tim Greaton: Okay, let’s say Uncontrolled Desires gets picked up by Hollywood, which actor do you think should play Greg?
Scarlet James: Alec Baldwin would be great, or maybe even Kevin James. I think the female writer who gets involved with him would have to be either Kate Hudson or Sandra Bullock.
Tim Greaton: Though we have every expectation that you will live well past 125 years, when you finally find rest, what would you like your tombstone/obituary to say?
Scarlet James: Well I am not sure that I would have one as I am thinking of cremation with my ashes thrown out to sea. But if I were to have a tombstone, it might be something like, “I actually did it. I made all my dreams come true and had two of the greatest kids while doing it. They were my number one fans and believed in me, even when I wasn’t at my best.”
Tim Greaton: It would be great if you could share your website links.
Scarlet James: Facebook/Author, Scarlet James and Amazon Author central
Tim Greaton: Thanks for taking the time today, Scarlet. You have been an amazing guest.
Scarlet James: Thanks for allowing me to be a part your forum, Tim. Thanks to everyone, and I hope to hear from you and make some friends and fans.