‘Writers are a neurotic bunch’ says Georgia Clark

Georgia Clark, 31, (pictured above) is an Australian writer and published author based in New York. Billabout caught up with her to talk about her books, Manhattan’s stench, and her love of Brooklyn.

I came to New York on a holiday in 2007 for ten days and instantly fell in love. From the minute that the plane was landing, there was a tickle in my belly. This is a city that was built for me: I don’t drive, I love to go out, and I enjoy nut bags of all varieties.

Politics in the US are pretty wild…especially coming from Sydney, Gay old Sydney town, where every second person is bi(sexual). I grew up in a progressive circle of friends and family; I’m bi-sexual and my family doesn’t care. I think sexuality is much more of a hot-button issue here in the US. I’ve had American friends that have been in the closet in their 20’s, and it blows my mind. I dated a girl who wasn’t able to deal with coming out and this really hits home because not only was I dumped by this super-hot girl, but it was really sad that she couldn’t be accepted by her family and friends. America is progressive in some ways, but it’s also very bigoted.

I originally wanted to be a director. I was interested in Woody Allen and I studied filmmaking and screenwriting at UTS in Sydney. I made two short films that were both self-funded and spectacular failures.  I always liked writing, and I was always good at it and then I realized, accidentally, that I could make a living out of it.

Writers are a fairly neurotic bunch. Wanting to be a writer is like wanting to be crazy.

I worked for Home and Away as a writer for their website for a while.
I wriggled my way in to write an episode and while it was a great experience, it’s not one of my best pieces of work– it won’t go on the gravestone. Writing for those kinds of shows is actually really difficult on a technical element because there’s a limited amount of locations and the length of scenes. It’s kind of like a mathematical formula.

My first book “She’s With The Band” is young adult fiction. It’s a feisty, rom-com, coming of age story about 15 year-old moving from the Snowy Mountains to the bright lights of the city. I was writing for Girlfriend magazine and they were releasing a line of branded young adult novels. They asked if I wanted to pitch a novel, and so I sent through an outline and I got a book deal before I had written it. This was all really unprecedented and set up a series of false expectations that I’m still working quite hard to overcome, because you sort of think, ‘wow, this is easy, why doesn’t everyone write novels!’ I had wonderful editors at Allen & Unwin, and the book has recently come out in the UK and US.

I’m attracted to young adult fiction because I like writing fast paced, plot based stories
. I enjoy super emotional story telling– high stakes and big drama. The book that I’m working on at the moment is “The Ashbury Institute” (working title). It’s a dystopian, young adult fiction set in an isolated, strange, and highly regulated school. A new teacher starts at this institute where all of these orphans live, and she starts to make them question the rules of the school.

I would never live in Manhattan…it’s too crazy. I live in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and I adore it. It’s pretty cheap and I have two wonderful roommates Jen and Amy, who I love as my sisters. I live right near a café called Café Grumpy where I often write, but if I’m doing fiction or a big project, then I’ll go to the Writers Room in Manhattan. Franklin Street is the main drag of Greenpoint and it is loaded with great boutiques, bars and coffee shops.

I miss my friends and family in Australia, and I miss the quality of the air. I remember being in Sydney and I could smell the beach from the city and I was like ‘Everyone! Stop!’ In Manhattan you can smell the stench of everyone’s BO (body odor) there’s no salty sea breeze here; it’s garbage and rats.

I’d like to be able to create bodies of water for the specific purpose of swimming. It’s a hundred degrees today and people are walking around with their faces melting off. I went to Rockaway Beach, and if you swim beyond where you can stand, the lifeguards start blowing their whistles and furiously gesturing for you to come back. My best friend practically marched up to them and was like, “We’re Australian, we can swim! Stop blowing your whistle at us!”


As told to Shannon O’Meara.

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