Book: The Bucket List
Photos Courtesy of georgiaclark.com
Author: Georgia Clark
"Georgia Clark is an author, performer, and screenwriter. She wrote the critically acclaimed novel, The Regulars, and the "witty, sexy" (L.A. Times) The Bucket List, both Simon & Schuster, as well as two young adult novels. Georgia is the host/founder of the storytelling night, Generation Women, which invites six generations of women to tell a story on a theme.
She is currently developing The Regulars as a TV show for E!, and has a forthcoming picture series with Cub House/Lion Forge. A native Australian, she lives in Brooklyn with her girlfriend and a fridge full of cheese." (Source: georgiaclark.com)
1. How much does living in New York impact your writing? Does the city
have a lot of influence on your writing style?
The city inspires me every single day: the energy, the passion, the diversity, the hustle. In regards to The Bucket List, I was interested in seeing how an emotionally intelligent but sexually sheltered woman living in a big city like New York would react to a situation that forces her to confront her sexuality, i.e. the possibility of losing her breasts.
2. What event or person sparked the character Lacey and how hard
emotionally was it for you to write this book?
The inspiration for this story started with a cancer scare of my own. I was in Sydney, on book tour for my last book (The Regulars). While getting a routine Pap smear, my doctor felt a lump. I was scheduled for a diagnostic ultrasound on the same day I was doing my first live TV appearance, a meet-and-greet at Simon & Schuster Australia, an in-depth 30-minute radio interview, and my book launch.
Ultimately, the lump was benign, but the stress, fear, and “what ifs” stayed with me. It was definitely the most challenging book I’ve ever written: it felt like I was taking a real risk because I wanted so badly to get it right and honor Lacey’s story.
3. What improvement did you see in yourself from your first book "The
Regulars" to your latest book "The Bucket List"?
"The Regulars" used a magic realist device to tell a story about beauty and had three central characters. This is all real, with one central protagonist and a higher stakes predicament. It’s more ambitious in scope and intent, in that I don't have the BRCA1 gene mutation, and had to do a lot of research. Both books are funny and entertaining, and both invoke conversations about the way female bodies define but do not limit us.
4. Do you have your own personal bucket list, and if so what are a few
special things on it?
I’d like to visit Tokyo, open an animal refuge, go on an African safari, not be disappointed by my stomach and flirt with Kristen Stewart.
5. What part of the book did you have the most fun writing? Which part
did you have the hardest writing?
The scene where Lacey’s best friends, Steph and Vivian, dream up her “book bucket list” is super fun; I wanted to capture how real women would talk about something serious, but also sexy. Cooper is a dreamboat and so it was electric having him and Lacey on the same page.
I am definitely drawn to the bad boyfriend archetype, and so writing scenes with Lacey’s complex love interest, Elan Behdazi, was also very enjoyable. Non-POV characters who don’t say what they’re thinking are always enjoyable to write because you leave so much up to the imagination.
The hardest parts were everything that had to be medically accurate! I experienced a lot of responsibility and pressure to get the medical and psychological parts of Lacey’s story right.
After doing multiple interviews with women who’d had preventative mastectomies, it became clear that no one’s journey was the same; not practically, physically, or emotionally. This made it hard to create a “typical” journey. I still live in fear of finding out I got one major thing wrong—so far, no angry emails!
6. What inspired you to write such an interesting story narrative?
I wanted to tell a story about a young woman considering getting a preventative mastectomy. I’ve never seen that story play out in popular fiction, and it felt dramatic, layered, and feminist to me: a narrative about a woman taking control of her body in a way that was brave and inspiring.
When I first started talking about the topic, a few friends recoiled from the idea – it scared them and made them feel uncomfortable. This made me even more determined to explore the issue.
We need to talk about things that make us uncomfortable in order to normalize them for the people they affect, that way we’re starting to talk more openly and truthfully about abortion, menstruation, menopause, and miscarriages. We can also learn to talk about preventative surgeries.
7. As Women Empowerment becomes more of an important cultural
agenda, how important was it for you to write this story?
Very important! This is a book about how we relate to our bodies, and our sexuality. It took me a long time to feel in control of my sexuality and my pleasure. As women, I think this is especially complicated as we live in a culture saturated with unrealistic images of female faces and bodies, and our sexuality is often defined purely as it related to hetero male desire: what turns men on.
As a queer woman, I’ve had to think more about what being a sexual being means to me. I was interested in seeing how an emotionally intelligent but sexually sheltered woman living in a big city like New York would react to a situation that forces her to confront her sexuality, i.e. the possibility of losing her breasts.
I enjoy writing about sex, because it’s a fundamental part of the human experience, and in "The Bucket List", the sex Lacey has is part of her journey of self-discovery.
8. Can you talk about your publishing process, how easy or hard was it to
get this story published?
Overall, my “path to publication” was long and complicated. Less a path, more of a washed-out-road-that-isn’t-even-on-this-f**king-map. I’ve had some opportunities handed to me on a silver platter and others refuse to acquiesce to me despite fighting tooth and nail for them.
I’ve written two books that didn’t sell and both times thought they would end me (they did not). The first was a young adult novel I wrote without being familiar with young adult writing. It seems so obvious now, but it is near-impossible to sell anything without being familiar with the genre: any assumptions you have about a genre are likely outdated and untrue.
I was cocky enough to think I could write a YA without doing my homework; it was a girl-detective called Tigerskins Incorporated, with an odd-couple set-up and a PG-rated detective tale. Too PG-rated: when my agent took it out, it suddenly became “middle-grade” (not my intention) and then didn’t sell.
I was beyond gutted: every writer knows the feeling of years of “wasted” work. It definitely set me back and shook my confidence, and only through sheer, stubborn perseverance did I cobble/force another YA into existence, Parched. After being on submission for months and getting dozens of rejections, we got an offer, but it was very modest and with a small press.
When I started writing The Regulars, I set an intention: I wanted a top-tier offer from one of the “Big Five”. It was exhausting to be working so hard for so long with such little impact or financial reward.
I focused on writing a novel that I felt personally strongly about, that played to my strengths as a writer, and would have a widespread appeal. I was working full-time and would write for two hours after work every day, and on weekends. I hired a top freelance editor to give me editorial feedback and paid close attention to everything she had to say.
I read widely in my genre. Basically, I went all-in in a way I hadn’t before. When we went on submission, I was beyond nervous. I was manic: both supremely confident and utterly terrified that the book would bomb and I would have to start all over again… again. But we got an offer from an imprint at Simon & Schuster within the first week. Finally, after writing novels for almost a decade, I was on my way. That same imprint went to buy The Bucket List.
My advice: read your genre and don’t kid yourself about whether your message sits comfortably in it or not. Work with a freelance editor. Don’t get hung up on perfecting one book—if it’s been over 5 years, think about starting something
9. Overall, what was your writing process like for this book?
There’s a famous Hemingway quote that goes, “Write drunk. Edit sober.”
I’m vice versa on that.
A perfect writing day starts with coffee in bed in the morning, to take care of emails and clear the slate for the day. I might start pecking away at the novel here, or when I get into Paragraph, the writers’ room where I am currently a member.
I’d do a 2-hour session before lunch and then two 2-hour sessions after lunch. That’s solid work time—no internet, no phone, no procrastination, just writing. Then I’d head home, make some dinner, pour a glass of wine. After relaxing for a few hours, I’ll open up my laptop and begin reading what I worked on that day, making edits and revisions.
This process works for me: it forces me to have a productive day writing and a more pleasurable time editing.
10. What’s the best book you have read in 2018?
Less, by Andrew Sean Greer
11. What’s your best advice for getting over writer’s block?
Write an outline! It takes the pressure off. I work from a detailed outline that my agent and editor have provided notes on before I even think about starting Chapter 1.
It saves time and lets me solve any structural problems before I write them into existence. It might not end up being for you, but try it and see if it streamlines your process a little.
12. Do you plan on writing more books in the future?
Yes! I’m working on a comic novel set inside the wedding planning industry. It’s an ensemble cast centered around a female odd-couple. It’s a lot of fun.
I’m also adapting The Regulars into a one-hour TV pilot for E! Fingers crossed we go to series on it.
Places to Find More From This Author:
Facebook: Georgia Clark
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