Interview with Scarlet Ansley: Spring 2023 Flash Fiction Contest Runner Up

Tuesday, November 14, 2023
Scarlet’s Bio:
Scarlet Ansley is a model and occasional horror movie actress in Los Angeles. Her earliest stories were written in a Bratz Dolls journal during recess, but “The Playground” is her first published piece. Through her work, she has seen the world’s beauty and its blood, and it is reflected in her writing. While she enjoys exploring humor and themes like identity and love, most of her stories and poems are penned in darker ink. If pressed, she would label her genres as gothic fiction, romantic fantasy, and thriller, but she prefers not to be pressed. Scarlet is literarily claustrophobic. She is currently in the editing stages of her first novel. For more, visit her website, or follow her on YouTube

If you haven't done so already, check out Scarlet's award-winning story "The Playground" and then return here for a chat with the author. 

WOW: Congratulations on placing third in the Spring 2023 Flash Fiction Contest! What excited you most about writing this story? 

Scarlet: "The Playground" terrified me before it excited me. It was a different style for me (a lot less dark), and I put a lot of myself into it. To be fair, the world is sort of terrifying. It’s so big and complicated, sometimes I have to look at it through a different lens. This story was both that lens and an attempt to figure out which camera it fits. 

WOW: It sounds like a potentially very rewarding process. What did you learn about yourself or your writing while crafting this piece? 

Scarlet: This piece was a challenge. For a while, I sat there thinking: how do I write fifteen years of someone’s self-discovery, self-denial, and self-acceptance in under 750 words? I guess my philosophy became reduce, reuse, and recycle. It’s almost counterintuitive when every word matters, but I figured it would be less daunting if I could pair things down and return to the same core ideas. In a way, the method itself is a lot like relating political negotiations to the playground snack trade. Even now, I’m not sure if the content of the story affected the editing process, or if it was the other way around. 

WOW: Could you tell us more about your first novel? I promise I won’t press you to define its genre 😊 

Scarlet: I appreciate your consideration of my genre-based literary claustrophobia! I can say with confidence, though, that it is a fantasy. I’m in the later stages of editing now, which is really exciting. It almost feels unreal to have 100,000 coherent words. Fantasy is an amazing genre to write because it offers so much freedom. I wanted to take that freedom and balance it with the most challenging, most turbulent, most human emotions: trust, love, grief, and hope. It’s all wrapped in a story of two kingdoms separated by mountains formed in war between the gods. At its heart, though, the first novel in the series is about a woman who will do anything to save her best friend. She comes to discover that the path ‘anything’ takes might just mean the end of the world as she knows it. 

WOW: Your excitement for the story is palpable! I hope you continue to enjoy the writing, editing, and publishing processes. What are you reading right now, and why did you choose to read it? 

Scarlet: I just finished reading T.J. Newman’s thriller Drowning. In her first novel, Falling, she brings the characters to life in so few pages. I just had to see if she managed it again. She did not disappoint. Her handle on both character realism and tension is wildly impressive. I felt the clock ticking in my bones. I had the opportunity to talk to her at a meet and greet a few months ago, and she really gives us writers a good name. I will always support authors who are not only talented but also kind. 

WOW: If you could give your younger self one piece of writing advice, what would it be and why? 

Scarlet: I look back on my older writing and it makes me feel something. It’s not always something good, because life isn’t always good, but that’s the way it should be. The best part of writing is that, through it, you can express things you didn’t even know you had in you. I would tell my younger self that, even if her work doesn’t get past the first draft, it matters. It matters because all writing does. It is a testament to life and growth, and someday she will be a better writer—a better person—because she has that work to reflect upon. So, never stop. Never put the pencil down. Never throw away the paper because, one day, you’ll need it. The writer lives inside her work, even if no one knows she is there. I like to think that means the little girl who wrote about heartbreak when her favorite cartoon was canceled is huddled somewhere between my lines of more devastating loss. At least, I hope so, because then her feelings, as small and inconsequential as they seem to me now, still matter. 

WOW: What a lovely reflection on your writing history. Anything else you’d like to add? 

Scarlet: I will say again that I am grateful to have my work acknowledged and to have been given the space to talk a bit about myself and my writing. 

WOW: Thank you for sharing your story and your inspiring responses with us. Happy writing! 

Interviewed by Anne Greenawalt, founder and editor-in-chief of Sport Stories Press, which publishes sports books by, for, and about sportswomen and amateur athletes and offers developmental editing and ghostwriting services to partially fund the press. Connect on Twitter @greenmachine459.


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