A Flash of Red
By Sarah K. Stephens
Genre: Psychological ThrillerFocusing on three main characters, A Flash of Red details the chaos that ensues when mental illness invades our most intimate relationships.
A Flash of Red ultimately asks the question: What happens when we can no longer tell the difference between what we want and what is real?
About the Author
Sarah K. Stephens earned her doctorate in Developmental Psychology and teaches a variety of human development courses as a lecturer atPenn State University. Although Fall and Spring find her in the classroom, she remains a writer year-round. Her short stories have appeared in Five on the Fifth, The Voices Project, The Indianola Review, and the Manawaker Studio’s Flash Fiction Podcast. Her debut novel, A Flash of Red, will be released in December 2016 by Pandamoon Publishing.
What inspired you to write this book?
The concept for A Flash of Red originated from recent research on the effects of pornography exposure on children and adolescents. One of my courses at Penn State focuses, in part, on the effects of the Internet Age on children’s development. In preparing that course, I encountered a wealth of empirical data confirming that children are encountering pornography and that this exposure is not benign. Viewing sexually explicit images affects young men and women’s expectations and actions in both their romantic and sexual lives, often reflecting the norms set in pornographic contexts, which I think anyone can agree is not an adequate or complete model of sexual intimacy. A Flash of Red arose when I started asking myself, What would happen if pornography became a third party in a marriage?
Do you have a favorite character, or in what ways do any of the characters represent you?
My favorite character to write was Bard—the obsessive student in the novel. I love how he examines the world from a distant vantage point, even as he tries to open himself up to a chosen few. I found Sean, the husband in the focal marriage of the novel, was the hardest to write. He’s struggling so deeply in knowing who he is, and it was painful for me sometimes to convey the authenticity of his sadness.
As for aspects of my characters who represent me? To paraphrase the always insightful P.D. James, my characters are based on everyone and no one in my life. Parts of my family, friends, colleagues, and my own self show up in my writing, but never as a direct reproduction. Fiction offers the freedom of creating a reality, and although I borrow aspects of real life for my writing, I strive to make each of my characters wholly their own.
What surprises did you come across when writing the book?
That I prefer to write about the darker side of relationships and human connection. Given my very blessed personal life, you’d think I’d write more about cuddly puppies and romantic dukes, but I guess my inner writer’s mind says otherwise.
If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead characters?
I would love to see Jessica Chastain play Anna. Casey Affleck would make a great Sean. And for Bard? Let’s go with Simon Woods.