Coffee chat with Georgia Clark - an Aussie author living in New York

It's my absolute pleasure to welcome Georgia Clark to my virtual café. She is an Australian author who made the bold move to New York a few years ago and is doing fabulous. She's the published author of two young adult novels "She's With The Band" and "Parched", one women's fiction novel "The Regulars", with another novel "The Bucket List" coming out in 2018. She's also a screenwriter, online writing tutor, and host and co-creator of a literary salon for women.

DL: Firstly, since this is a coffee chat, how do you have your coffee (or not as has been the case)? And what is your favourite time of the day to partake?

GEORGIA: First thing. As soon as the eyes are open. My coffee is my lifeblood--sometimes it’s how I get myself out of bed in the first place; a bribe. I make a big French Press and take it with a little half-and-half. I always start my morning tucked back into bed with a cup of coffee.

DL:  We only get to watch Trainwreck Trump via the news, Twitter, and Facebook. He's a big change from President Obama and big change is often met with resistance and mourning. In this case I personally believe its justifiably so that people are resisting this change. For your friends back here in Australia, what is like for a regular person in America at the moment? And is there a sense the chaos will settle down or get worse?

GEORGIA: To be perfectly frank, it’s a nightmarish time to be living in America. It’s crazy and surreal and upsetting, every day. I’m lucky to be in New York, which is full of liberal people who are appalled by what’s happening, and who are speaking and acting out against the Trump administration. But staying connected to the news is scary and exhausting and sad. The day Trump was elected… I’ll never forget. It was the knowledge that we were entering a dystopia that wouldn’t end for four years. And it’s not settling down, no way. It’s just as bad as I thought it would be.

DL: You run a literary salon event called Generation Women, which is a wonderful concept. It's one woman each across a few generations telling stories. There is a real threat of losing that special mother/daughter handover of knowledge through a variety of reasons - Google, children moving away, children too busy to listen, parents taking on grandparent duties instead of motherly duties. Do these monthly literary salons help you bridge the distance between you (who lives in United States) and your mother (who lives in Australia)? And tell us about the literary salons and where you'd like to see them in a few years time.

GEORGIA: My mum came to the second salon we held, and the theme was in her honor, “What I Learned About My Mother”. I wrote a piece about her and was able to read it to her as she sat in the front row. It was a really special night. She enjoys hearing about the night so it does help us stay connected, yes.

At Generation Women, six women of note read an original piece on a theme. Of those women, one is in her 20s, her 30s, her 40s, her 50s, her 60s and 70s+. The aim is to celebrate and amplify women’s voices and creativity, especially older women, who are not honored in society in the way they should be. The result is a unique, intimate female literary salon that brings together women of all ages. In the future, I hope we just keep growing and connecting with audiences, perhaps beyond the Lower East Side, our current home.
Tickets to our New York shows are available via our website, and I’m putting on a one-off show in Sydney on Monday December 11th at Giant Dwarf.

October 27th line-up. L-R: Sudi Green, Lauren Adams, Debbie Weil, June Duffy, Meg Wolitzer, Manoush Zomorodi.

DL: Creating diversity in fiction is tricky. You wrote an interesting blog piece (link here) about how we mention races of characters other than white. But we don't go around saying 'my Asian friend, Laura,' or 'my black friend, Lana.' Similarly, we don't say 'my gay friend, Mark,' or 'my handicapped friend, Julie', unless it is specific to the conversation. Have you found any new ways since the blog post to introduce diversity into a novel that doesn't feel forced or tokenistic?

GEORGIA: I ran this question past my clever friend Meg, who was the editor who acquired The Regulars. She said, “I guess it comes down to Lacey [my main character] and how she sees things, right. The fact that this is from her voice is what I think triggered it for me the most-- in the end, I do think that a lot of people think about identity in the way she narrates (that's why we never talk about "my white friend Jess" or "this straight girl I met at a party"-- because if we have to mention identity, it's already because we're thinking about someone as the other). So maybe it's first figuring out WHY Lacey would be noticing black and Asian people to this extent, and WHY that becomes part of her internal narration.” So the trick is to make the observation idiosyncratic and specific to the character. If in doubt, I just cut, and trust my readers know every character isn’t always white by default.

DL: As if you're not busy enough, you also offer a training course for writers. Where do you get your energy and drive from? And what is the one thing you've had to sacrifice to maintain this drive?

GEORGIA: I’m not sure? A crippling fear of failure?? I like being busy and I kinda have to be as a full-time creative. Gotta hustle! I’m not sure what I’ve sacrificed…. I always do some work over the weekends, but that's pretty normal in New York! I tend to do everything I want to do, and I enjoy the things I put my energy into, so they don’t usually feel like a burden.

The Pro-Active Author is an 8-part self-study book marketing course that shows you step-by-step how to proactively and effectively launch your next book, so it’s designed specifically for authors. This course is 8.5 hours of content, made up of 38 lessons and 12 worksheets. So you can go from feeling confused and overwhelmed, to in control and confident in just one weekend!

DL: And lastly, are you a biscuit or cake kind of person? And what is your favourite biscuit/cake?

GEORGIA: Cake! I went out for dinner with my girlfriend last night to our fave local spot here in Brooklyn called Diner, and had this flourless chocolate cake that was simply out of this world. Rich, dense and fudgy: delicious!

photo by Daniel L Johnson
Georgia Clark is the author of The Regulars. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and sign up for her newsletter via her website.
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