herald

Sunday 23 November 2014

I've spoken to 'Scarlett' and I tend to believe her

Between The Sheets -- the story of an Irish mum who beat the recession by becoming a hooker -- has been panned by campaigners amid claims it's all fiction. Caroline Crawford spoke to the woman behind the book and thinks she's telling the truth

PEOPLE have already questioned the veracity of Between The Sheets - the book on how an Irish mum became a hooker.

To protect her identity 'Scarlett' won't do face to face interviews. On the radio her voice is distorted to ensure she cannot be recognised and she uses cheap mobiles which can be discarded after interviews.

But on speaking to this writer, any concerns that this is a work of fiction are quickly allayed. Scarlett is matter of fact about her experiences. Highly articulate, she never falters over a detail yet doesn't rush to divulge the intimate information.

Yet it is clearly apparent that she is always vigilant about what she says, ensuring that both clients and she herself cannot be recognised by some slip of the tongue.

"I haven't experienced much proper conversation since I started. Whether it's a conversation like this or even with friends or family, I always have to watch what I say and can't just enjoy the conversation," she explained.

Asked whether former clients have been in touch since the book became public knowledge she exhales a long breath that speaks volumes before finally answering; "No comment."

"I've said before I've been very careful to disguise any clients so they can't even recognise themselves. They might recognise the things I describe but I've tried to change enough details," she added.

Publisher, Penguin Ireland, is confident of the veracity of the story. Managing director Michael McLoughlin said it has "checked this woman's story thoroughly and we are satisfied that it's genuine."

Despite Scarlett's precautions when it comes to identifying herself she says she still fears her identity will be revealed.

The middle-class mother told the Herald that despite taking the decision to pen the book she hoped she would not have to tell her children about her past.

"It is causing a stir so there's no way my family and friends won't hear about it but I've been as careful as I can be," she said.

Scarlett says her biggest concern is the prospect of having to tell her children if her identity is discovered.

"If I get away with not having to tell my children that would be fine. Once the fuss dies down, all of this might go to the back of my mind and I might never need to talk about it again and that's what I would like.

"If it comes to telling them, I'd like a few more years so they would be older and be able to comprehend the reasons," she said.



collapse

Writing under the pseudonym Scarlett O'Kelly, the author reveals an eye-opening picture of her experiences when, facing financial collapse, she turned to prostitution to maintain her family's lifestyle.

Scarlett had been an office worker for many years but when she lost her job and her ex-husband's financial situation changed, she was forced to take drastic measures to keep her three children comfortable.

Despite the subject matter, which sees her reveal specific details about the sexual encounters she had, Scarlett said she was surprised at the strong reaction to the book.

"I didn't expect the reaction, not at all, I'm actually quite surprised by it. Apart from my own opinions in the book, there is nothing that wasn't already known," she said.

She is now anxious about the reaction of friends and family if she was ever discovered as the author.

"I left the location blank. People have been making assumptions from how I sound but I never revealed where I am, whether it be a city like Dublin, Cork or Galway, or even rural Tipperary, it doesn't matter. It is in every corner of the country.

"My family have never mentioned it to me and I don't think they would. They would never think that I would be interested in something like that. It's a huge gamble but there's no going back now."

She reveals how her clients were mostly middle-aged men who were self-employed, retired or travelled for business.

Scarlett finally stopped for a number of reasons - one of which was stress.

"I wanted a normal life with one phone, one email and one password. I found it very stressful, I just wanted to go back to having just one set of stories to tell. It was very draining," she said.

hnews@herald.ie

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