Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Guest Author Interview - Scarlett Jensen

In today's guest author interview Scarlett Jensen takes her place in the hot seat to tell us about herself and her writing, find out more below:


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Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
Scarlett Jensen works as a freelance writer for the past four years. It is during this period that she became acquainted with the story of Alice which was related to her in her professional capacity. This is her first published book under the pen name. Scarlett has extensive experience of public administration in the South African public service. As government officer she was involved in the compilation of legislation while she was occupied in the management and promotion of education, arts, culture, language, science and technology. Before her retirement in 1999, she was also involved with the compilation of an English Technical Language Dictionary for Human Resources and Public Administration for the South African National Terminology Service.

What first inspired you to start writing?
The book, "The Angel with Burnt Wings" looks back at the protagonist's past. We find life lessons that have to be told in a story where the broken self emerges from a past that has been scattered in pieces after rape, prostitution and crime. To take jail punishment as a process wherein the self is transformed, the old skin shed by experiencing the anointing grace of forgiveness and to be reborn pure white, takes an iron will and courage. It is this courage and grace from God, that turned a mess into a message, a trial into truimph and a victim into a victory. It is that victory which inspired Scarlett to tell the story to the world.

Your book is based upon real events, how difficult is it to blend fact and fiction in that way?
It is a book that grew out of words, gestures and sensations that go beyond bars and which were internalized with great care. The author kept an open window and respected the findings as gifts of unknown things. She kept the truth's real essence and saw the experience as a play with all its players with Alice, the angel with burnt wings, in the main role. Some parts of the story fled away and at others the author stopped. Together with Alice, the author entered into the real and imagined experiences of women in prison, saw shackled dreams and destinies, and with some she celebrated their rebirth and victory. The research the author has done is based on the extraordinary work done by her co-professionals. She took source material and grafted lines from existing writings, like the masterpiece of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. She saw in the book a chance to reactivate the truths of this magic tale for young and old and used the tale as a trajectory for her real life story. Wonderland parallels perfectly with Prisonland.

What was the last book you read?
The last book the author read is Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult. The book was on the NJTimes best sellers list in 2012. With fiction, Picoult creates credible characters with pure diction. She cleverly plots their interrelationships that are beautifully interwoven, showing humanity's strenghts and weaknesses and digs into the forces that tear the relationships apart. She contrasts humans versus nature in the form of a pack of wolves, showing how a wolf sacrifices his own good for the survival of the pack. The book is wonderfully written and engages us in a deeper level of personal and literary discussion. It offers an animated and coherend discussion which inspires personal reflection.

If you could spend a day with anyone from history, who would it be and why?
The author would have liked to spend a day with the painter Marc Chagall. He painted the painting titled The Falling Angel which inspired the cover of the book. The author who also studied art, had seen the painting long before the book was conceptualized or the cover, or name of the book considered. It was only after the book was written and title chosen, that the painting surfaced from her subconscious as a possible cover image. When she studied the discussion around Chagall, she found the coinciding depiction of the reality of Alice. For Chagall, the angel, who meets defeat, symbolizes various moments of reality in his life with pesonal involvement in a sad, cruel and a dark age that is dominated by the brutality of war and hate. Spread across the black sky the red wings seem tongues of fire. The mother and child image at the bottom of the painting offers hope. My answer to him would be that I found reality depicted in his painting in the form of the story of Alice in my book.

What is it about your book that makes it stand out?
The book shows us how a life is broken up to the core and how it can be reconstructed to become whole again. The truths of the classical masterpiece of Alice in Wonderland, which are public domain, form the trajectory on which the story is based and underline the new book's amazing parallel with "Alice in Wonderland". In a sense both stories draw from each other. The analogies and images in the new book are both very real and to the point. The author saw in her book the chance to reactivate the truths of the magic tale of Wonderland for young and old to a grown-up audience.

The cover of the book stands out. For the author, the falling angel with long wings, but no longer able to fly, meets defeat, symbolizes life involving sadness and bad and dark times that are brought on by a burning internal war of the heart and soul in a desparate life of incarceration. The emphasis is on the fact that we need forgiveness and with its power we are enabled to fly free after incarceration and redemption.

The sequal of the book can easily be depicted by an ascending angel which represents peace, victory, cleansing from sin, purity and attainment of liberation and freedom through God.

What is the best piece of writing advice you have received?
Read fairy tales and explore the in-depth meaning of a master's voice and choice of events that take place in a fairy tale. They choose with great insight, sentiments, craft and purpose to convey the truths of humanity we can learn from.

What are you working on at the moment?
The author is working on the marketing of the book. She wants to reach the world's incarcerated. This book opens up the world of the incarcerated and the plight all of us must hear to assist them on their road to recovery. In Pope Francesco's words on 28 March 2013, Holy Thursday, "We need to go out, then, in order to experience our own anointing (as priests)...to the outskirts where there is suffering, bloodshed, blindness that longs for sight and prisoners in thrall to many evil monsters".

Tell us about your latest work and how we can find out more.
I am creating a platform to enlarge the presence of the book. As l have no status or credentials, I am fighting it.

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