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:
www.sarasheridan.com or www.sarasheridan.co.uk
Find her on Facebook here:
And she’s also well into Twitter too: