The blog of photographer and musician, Kim Ayres

Miss Scarlett, in the library, with the candlestick

Sara Sheridan is a best-selling historical and crime writer. She campaigns on reading and writing issues and is a self-confessed word nerd and swot. And the photo shoot I did with her as part of the "authors as characters" series of images for Wigtown Book Festival last autumn, was one of the most enjoyable.

We'd chatted on the phone a week or so before the Festival to decide on who she wished to be photographed as: Agatha Christie's Miss Marple, Marguerite from The Scarlet Pimpernel, and 19th century author, Maria Callcott, were bandied about. But though all these had potential, Sara wanted a strong, iconic image and suddenly Miss Scarlett from the game "Cluedo" (or "Clue" as it is usually marketed as in North America) was tossed into the fray. As this was to happen at a book festival, The Library seemed an obvious choice of venue, and the Candlestick seemed a more likely murder weapon to be able to acquire for the shoot.

Initially I'd intended to use a bookshop for the setting, but when I arrived in Wigtown I discovered a room in the County Buildings had been transformed into a sort of Victorian study as part of a project for people to donate various objects to help create a "room of curiosities". With one corner containing bookshelf wallpaper, it felt almost like a purpose-built set.

Sara was great fun and threw herself into the role of femme fatale. She'd even borrowed a stunning red dress from her daughter, knowing it was a size too small so we'd have to use tape at the back to hold it in place. We tried different shots of her looking as though she was about to deliver a killer blow, but in the end settled on an image invoking a sense of an unrepentant, post-murder cigarette. Smoking was forbidden in the building, so I had to add the burning tip and smoke afterwards in Photoshop.

Miss Scarlett, in the library, with the candlestick

For a bit more fun, I also took some shots of the full set with the lights, which ended up with a '70s magazine article look to it.

How to look glamorous with a brass candlestick

As always, feel free to click on the images for larger versions.

You can find out more about Sara Sheridan on her website: or
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Mary Witzl said...

Fantastic pictures, and great ideas too.

Kim Ayres said...

Thanks Mary :)

hope said...

Wow! She looks as if she's gotten away with murder...and enjoyed her handiwork.

Well done friend!

Kim Ayres said...

Hope - thanks - that was the look we wanted - unapologetic, self satisfied, almost post-coital :)

Eryl said...

Perfect choice, I'd say.

Rab said...

I love that image Kim. Would not look out of place on a book or magazine cover. Sound like the book festival was a lot of fun.

All the best


Carole said...

I neither want to meet Miss Scarlett in a dark alley or in a library. She looks menacing. Beautiful, yet evil.

Kim Ayres said...

Just discovered I missed the comments by Eryl, Rab and Carole! Sorry about that!

Thanks for all your postive words about the image :)

viji suresh said...

Ms. Scarlett looks wicked, bold and fantastic. The efforts went on the photo shoot make a very interesting read. The resourceful hand of the expert photographer to get the perfect capture, by "come what may, I will get the perfect shot I want" is indeed amazing. I have heard that when the profession and passion match, the result will be heart rendering. Your works are heart rendering, wild, spectacular, fun and sexy. Cheers to the model and you Sir :) Lots love from India..


Kim Ayres said...

Thanks for your kind words, Viji :)

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