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Interview with Scarlett Savage


When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I learned how to read when I was four years old; by age five, I’d read every picture book I could get my hands on. One snowy Saturday morning a couple of weeks before Christmas in Maine (where I grew up), we lost power. My sisters were at my grandparents house, so I was trapped at home alone with no one to play with or torture… AND no cartoons!! Before I could have a complete meltdown, my Daddy told me he’d just read a good book and he thought I’d enjoy it. As my little chest swelled with pride, he went and raided the Christmas present stash and brought me “Little House in the Big Woods”. I’d never read a book without pictures on my own before…but after the first few pages, I realized something. There didn’t need to be pictures, because the words made pictures in your MIND. Big, splashy, amazing, sensation-drenched pictures.



It took me about a week to get through it, and the minute I did—being the kind of kid I was—I thought to myself, “I can do that, too!”



As a side-note, that Christmas when I was five, as impoverished as we were, he scraped up enough money to go out and buy me a briefcase, several notebooks, two boxes of pens—one red, one black—a highlighter, folders, and a little stamper with my name on it. That Christmas morning, I announced that I was going to be a writer to anyone who would listen—and I never swayed in that desire from that moment till the moment I won my first award in school, then professionally, and began having my work produced all over the country. I lost my Daddy when I was eight, but I think of him every time I sit down at the typewriter.



What genre do you write in, and why?
That’s the funny thing with me; I have several genres. (More than one agent of mine in the past has had great angina over this fact for reasons well beyond my understanding). I’ve written several books that would be qualified as “Chick Lit” (my novel, “Thinking With Your Ring Finger”, based on a pilot that I wrote about my close friendship with my ex-husband’s first wife, is definitely “Chick Lit”, as well as the novelization of my award-winning off-Broadway play “She F*&king Hates Me: A Love Story”; I’m also working on the novelization of another “chick lit” play of mine, called “Naked Pictures of My Ex-Husbands”). But several of my works are much darker—“Narcotic Nation” is what I would call adventure fiction, as is my novel “The Madman’s Clay”. “Not This Girl, Not This Day” would be classified as young adult fiction—it’s based on a play I’m hoping to open soon in LA, about what rape does to the men in the lives of a rape survivor, which has been a strangely silent POV (except for the occasional movie in which the rape victim’s family tries to avenge her in a painful bloody way). And the novelization of my play, “Chase a Killer, Catch a Killer, Run, Run, Run…” would be categorized as crime fiction.



So, I’m all over the map, as you can see!! I’ve written screenplays and novels based on my plays, but at heart, I’m a playwright. I’m endlessly fascinated with the way we communicate with each other; we talk in subtext, in code. We rarely if ever say what we mean.



Tell us about your latest book.
“Narcotic Nation” is the name. It’s the first book I published, but not for lack of trying. I completed it fifteen years ago, and I got the standard, “This is BRILLIANT, but we can’t touch the subject matter!!” from every house in NYC. It’s an alternative America, in which all drugs were legalized fifteen years ago, and while it’s resulted in a stable economy—jobs for all who want them, help for those who need it; we’ve put the farmers back to work as a thank you for starting this country, and cops, firemen, teachers, and social workers et al are finally earning the salaries they so richly deserve. However, the country is split by this decision like no other matter since the Civil War. Half the country make up the “Realists”…people who believe prohibition of any kind does nothing but make criminals rich and waste literally trillions of dollars fighting something that people have proved over many, many years they have no intention of giving up. The other half are the “Idealists”—people who believe that making so many improvements off the taxes that are imposed on the now-legal narcotics is nothing more than taking advantage of America’s sick, weak, and self-indulgent.


The story follows a rock band, Deus ex Machina, who’ve just won an Idol-type competition and are embarking on their first world tour. The members of the band are like a small example of where the country is. Roped into participating by his lead singer girlfriend, Raven Lashua, bassist and aspiring politician Ashe Brecken is actually dismayed when his band wins. Hoping to turn his instant celebrity toward a purpose, he begins working with Stay Straight, an organization dedicated to overturning the Legalization. What he doesn’t know is that Raven has reasons for supporting the Freedman Bill…and is willing to secretly sabotage his life’s work to protect it. After a public humiliation spurs his desire to overturn the Bill, Ashe employs deadly designs to make the statement that the Bill Equals Death. Turning to someone he’s long despised to assist him in this dangerous efforts, this longtime band of musicians and friends are now in the midst of changing not only the nation, but the whole world…but at what cost?

I’m not now nor have I ever been a druggie, but looking at what the world has become, I think this is an option we need to explore. With this one action, we could put the farmers, to whom we owe everything, back to work; in fact, the manufacture and distribution of drugs would create hundreds of thousands of jobs; we could regulate, and monitor, and tax the hell of out it. We could pay policemen, firemen, social workers and teachers what they’re worth. We could save the trillions we spent fighting drugs, and take all that money and put it to use in this country of ours that’s failing.

One in six American children are “food-insecure”—and of all the BS PC terms I’ve ever heard, that one is hands down the bull-shittiest. It means one in six children live in the most grinding, back-breaking, terrifying poverty and they don’t know where their next damn meal is coming from. People are not going to stop doing drugs—to quote Raven, “People will smoke their own hair if they think it’ll take them away from the here and now.” So, let’s stop pretending we can make this go away, and stop spending all that money in an effort to stop something that will never go away. Let’s get the conversation going.


What methods are you using to promote your book?

I’ve created my website, www.scarlettsavage.com, I’ve been online and posted my work on Goodreads, I’ve contacted many people through Writers and Bloggers; I’ve got interviews lined up with several radio stations. There’s a wonderful site, http://savvybookwriters.wordpress.com/2012/03/11/18-top-websites-to-promote-your-book-for-free/. My publisher is setting up some virtual book tours as well. Ted Arabian, who has done a number of wonderful interviews online, is going to post a “commercial” for my book on youtube; and I’m in talks with Charlie Barrett, one of the most amazing book publicists ever, to take it to a national level.

What formats are the book available in?
Right now, contact my website; I was extremely disappointed in my first eBook company—the paperback version of the book had over a hundred special typos in the first half of the book. When I asked about good ideas for promoting, they said, “Hand out flyers.” And they got very, very upset if you mentioned any of these issues to them.


I’m currently in talks with two different houses, but if you email me directly, I’ll sell you one for half the asking price until I decide which one to go with.


Scarlett Savage

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Spend time with my kids—fifteen-year-old Daphne Juliet Ellis and eight-year-old Jessica Juliet Savage (and no, it’s not a Shakespeare homage! Shakespeare makes me crazy—he’s brilliant, to be sure, but every single year we lose a handful of brilliant playwrights to history because everyone’s so busy doing freakin’ Shakespeare…as a playwright myself, I take great umbrage!).


I live in Santa Monica, and I love to go down to the Promenade and/or Venice boardwalk to watch the street musicians and other artists; I’m a serious read-o-saurus, and I usually read three books a week.

I love nothing more than sitting down with a cup of coffee, and watching people interact. Everyone has their own little brand of language, communication, body language. I also love traveling; London and New Orleans are two of my favorite places in the world.

And I go to whatever theater production I can squeeze into my schedule! I love finding small theaters off the beaten path and see what art they’ve created. With your bigger houses, they’ve got budgets to do all kinds of things, but in the smaller places, they’ve got nothing but their creativity, and that is the kind of art that really gets my blood pumping.



Who are your favourite authors?

Stephen King. I grew up in Maine, and I went to UMaine at Orono on full scholarship to study with the same professors he did—that was back before I realized you can’t really teach writing! Judy Blume, absolutely. She wrote about things that no one else dared to write about, but things that kids have questions about and parents were, at that time, reluctant to discuss. Bullying, divorce, your first sexual experience, getting your period for the first time, masturbation…she covered it all. Michael Kimball, a dear friend of mine, wrote a book called “Green Girls”, which knocked “The Stand” out of slot #1 of my list of favorite books; just brilliant. Elizabeth Whurtzel’s books are brilliant, as well.


On my NOT favorite authors list…it absolutely KILLS me that E.L. James’ work has gotten any recognition at all. This is porn, pure and simple, and it teaches young girls that a) no doesn’t mean no b) if a man stalks you, it’s a compliment c) that getting beaten is not a horrible crime, but something you do in the name of foreplay. And her leading lady is a brain-dead ingĂ©nue who couldn’t think her way out of a wet paper bag open at both ends. It absolutely enrages me that someone could write garbage like that, and be successful at it.



What advice do you have for new writers?

Write every day. Don’t copy other writers, write what you’re passionate about. Do your research. Have more than one project going—that way if you get blocked, you can step over to the other work, and then when you go back to project a, you’ll find the block, often times, has cleared itself up. Get online and contact your favorite authors—you’d be surprised how many of them are willing to strike up online friendships, and they know the drill and give great advice.


Read. Read everything you can get your hands on. Read the paper, read new novels; read biographies. I LOVE reading biographies, because they’re just as fictitious as novels, and everything doesn’t have to all tie together and make sense in the end.



What’s your favourite quote about writing/for writers?

“I try to create sympathy for my characters…then I set the monsters loose.” --Stephen King


What’s the best thing about being a writer?
Getting to explore new things all the time; having an excuse to ask people questions about their passions, their work, their private lives. Getting to live vicariously through your characters. Being able to study the human condition so thoroughly on this short, short trip of life we’re allotted.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing?
www.scarlettsavage.com. You’ll find out everything you ever wanted to know and more…I’m also starting a blog. And various interviews and past events you can find by googling me.

Anything else you’d like to add?
Get a Kindle!! It’s better for the environment, and in ten years it’ll be the only way to get books. Don’t hurt the planet when there’s a better alternative!!

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