PROFILE: GEORGIA CLARK
What are you reading at the moment?
I’m currently reading I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron, which is warm, wise and very funny. I just finished the incredible literary sci-fi Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel, which blew me away with its ambition and insight. What a monster of a novel, I couldn’t put it down. I also adored my good friend Amy Poeppel’s new book Limelight, which is out in May. It’s a love letter to New York, Broadway and parenting. It is absolutely hilarious.
Where did you draw inspiration from when creating your characters?
The main character of Evie is most similar to myself, just younger and less assured. Evie is 23, an overworked, underpaid copyeditor for a monthly women’s magazine called Salty, which offends every bone in her Sarah Lawrence-educated, Amy Poehler-loving body (which is also a tad pudgy). She’s a feminist, only expressing her true views in her anonymous blog, Something Snarky. In the right light, her dyed black hair and thick-rimmed glasses make her cute but not beautiful. She’s smart but not confident. Sexually liberated, but only in theory (why is online dating so damn hard?).
Krista is Evie’s roommate and was partly inspired by an old roommate of mine in Sydney. Krista is a certified hot mess. She’s a South-East Asian law school dropout, and her tendency to be distracted by sales, snacks, and sex keep jacking up her terrifying 130k debt. She’s impulsive, funny, and highly irresponsible.
Willow is an amalgamation of a few friends of mine. There’s something ethereal about Willow Hendriksen, 22, like she might turn into a flock of birds if you snap your fingers. The daughter of acclaimed European filmmaker Matteo Hendriksen, Willow grew up unwillingly in the spotlight. Shy, lost, sensitive and searching, Willow knows her art pales in comparisons to her father’s, whose approval she’ll never get. Not that she wants to follow in his footsteps: Matteo was a notorious womanizer whose new girlfriend is barely a decade older than his daughter.
Favourite books and authors.
In recent years, I really loved The Girls by Emma Cline, beautiful and spooky; Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler, poetic and powerful; and The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker, brilliant and unputdownable. I also love David Mitchell, Truman Capote, Gillian Flynn, Margaret Atwood, Susan Cooper, David Sedaris, Maggie Stiefvater, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Karen Russell, and the memoirs by funny ladies Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Lena Dunham, Carrie Brownstein, Judith Lucy and Mindy Kaling.
Tell us about your next book.
My fourth novel, The Bucket List, is coming out in August of this year. Twenty‐five‐year‐old Lacey Whitman is very, very busy. She’s juggling two fabulous careers in NYC, is very single, very social, and has big plans for her future. The last thing she expects to find out after a routine check‐up is that she’s the next Angelina Jolie, and not in a good way. Lacey’s inherited the breast cancer gene. She’s got two choices: watch and wait, or say goodbye to her breasts, forever. It’s a choice no woman wants to make, and yet so many of them must each year. In Lacey’s opinion, her breasts have hardly gotten to first base, much less hit a home run. Partly as a coping mechanism, partly as a way to take back some control of her life, Lacey and her friends create a bucket list: everything she wants to do with and for her breasts before a possible surgery. Thus begins the most emotional and exhilarating year of her life: one of self‐exploration that’ll help her grow up, fall in love, and define her relationship to herself and to her body. Both were things she thought she had a handle on, but now she’s learning that letting go a little might give her the future she really wants.
Why write a book about society’s perception on physical beauty?
As a child, I was enamored with my own beauty. I’m compelled to describe myself in an early diary entry, doing as follows: “I have long, wavy, golden hair and big, beautiful blue eyes.” My faith in my wonderful good looks was palatable, and I took delight in dressing in bright, showy colors, unafraid to stand out, peacock-like, from the crowd. Which is why it was so odd to find myself in my late-20s/early 30s convinced of my own Quasimodo-esque ugliness. The mirror was a horror show, reflecting back nothing golden or beautiful. Instead, I saw thin lips, a witches’ chin and dark circles on par with two black eyes. Despite having a boisterous group of friends, promising career, and exciting life in New York, love eluded me, and the reason (I was sure) was my own physical failings.
On meeting my partner, these feelings began to fade. Her daily affirmations that I was delightful in every way helped me see the girl in the mirror in a more positive light again. I might not be a supermodel, but I certainly wasn’t ugly. So why had a spent a long period of an otherwise happy life feeling that I was? And if I felt that way, surely other women felt that way too.
This inspired me to start thinking about beauty. Where do messages about beauty find us, how do they affect us, how do different women respond to these messages differently. What is beauty? How does a modern feminist reconcile her own empowerment with very real feelings of physical inadequacy? These thoughts and more were bubbling in the back of my brain when one night, inspiration struck. I was at home alone, working on the edits to my YA sci-fi novel, Parched, when a concept popped into my head. A serum. That turns you pretty: objectively, definitively. But only for a week at a time. ‘Hm’, I thought, putting my notes aside. ‘That’s interesting’. Less than a minute later, a scene began playing in my head, as crystal clear as a feature film. Three young women. A tiny bottle of Pretty, something from a modern fairytale. An impossible transformation, as visceral and gross as it was funny and unexpected. Someone comes home: ah, an excuse is needed! What next? Who knows… As soon as the scene stopped playing – a missive from the muse – I knew, without a doubt, that was a novel. A year and a half later, I finished The Regulars.