I’m excited today to be sharing my interview with Kate Gordon – the author of the newly released, Writing Clementine. Set in Tasmania and told though letters/a writing assignment in class, Writing Clementine is a great novel about one young teen’s struggles with family dramas, friend pressures and romantic entanglements. It’s a very sweet novel with a lively and spirited main character dealing with relatable and realistic issues.
Q&A with Kate Gordon
I wrote it during a really tough and confusing time in my life. A family member was suffering with horrible depression and I didn’t know how to “fix” him. And I tend to freak out a bit when I don’t know how to fix things (or people). To help me work through my anxiety about what was happening to him, and in an attempt to help others going through the same thing, I began this novel.
Are there any similarities between you and Clementine? Do you share a love of poetry?
Every time I give my husband a novel of mine to read, his first response is “You do know the main character is you, right?” For a while I protested that, no, I’m actually really creative and imaginative and the protagonist is nothing like me, not even a little tiny bit. Eventually, I give in and admit it. And Clem is more me than any of the others. Yes, I’m a closet poetry nut. Yes, I love dancing with my dad to daggy country music. Yes, I love steampunk. Yes, I often feel awkward and confused by life. Clem is much braver than I am, though, and more self-assured. I’d like to be more like her, one day!
There are a number of sensitive issues featured in Writing Clementine. Was it difficult to write about them in such a realistic and relatable way?
Of course. I’ve been through a lot of what Clem goes through, so I knew how to tell the story of it, from my own experience, but I also wanted to tell it in a way that wouldn’t belittle the experiences of others going on similar journeys. I was lucky to have two super brilliant editors who helped me shape Clem’s tale into something universal, I think, and helped me ensure I was treating these tough topics with sensitivity and the gravitas they deserve, without becoming maudlin. Thank the stars for editors!
I have to admit I’m really curious about this one – Does the Bernie Steampunk Society (BSS) really exist?
Haha! To my great disappointment, to my knowledge, it doesn’t. Or, at least, it definitely didn’t when I was Clem’s age. Oh how I wish it did! Burnie-ites reading this, you have your mission!
What would you nom de vapour (steampunk name) be?
What an absolutely brilliant question! *thinks long and hard for several hours* Beatrix Crow. Because of Beatrix Potter and because crows are my favourite birds. Phew! You have no idea how much mulling and Googling led to that short answer!
Fred chooses to live in a bygone era despite existing in the present day. If you could choose any era to live in which one would it be?
The sixties. Without a doubt. When I was Clem’s age, I was obsessed with The Beatles. I still love them, and I adore sixties art, movies, music and fashion. If I could look like anyone in the world it would be Astrid Kirchherr, a photographer who worked with, and was a muse to, The Beatles. I’ve tried dressing like her, in the past, and cutting my hair short. I’m far too uncool!
As a Tasmanian author, was it important to you to set Writing Clementine in your home state?
Growing up, I didn’t see myself represented in literature. There weren’t many Australian YA books at all, back then, and those that existed were set in the mainland cities or the outback. It made me feel as though Tasmania was somehow lesser, because it wasn’t recorded in stories. I want Tasmanian teens to know the place they live in is magical and awesome and the best place in the world to live!
Do you read a lot? What are some of your favourite books?
I read voraciously. You can’t be a writer if you don’t read. My favourite authors are Nick Earls, Nick Hornby, Alex Miller, Steven Herrick, Nansi Kunze, Tamora Pierce, Jaclyn Moriarty, Penni Russon, Ben Chandler, Thomas Hardy, Joanna Trollope, JD Salinger, John Green, David Levithan, Libba Bray, Justine Larbalestier, Douglas Adams, John Marsden, Maureen McCarthy, Melina Marchetta, James Roy, James Moloney, Barry Jonsberg, Vikki Wakefield, Jane Austen, Beatrix Potter, Roald Dahl … I’m just going to stop now, because if I don’t I’ll never stop, and I haven’t even started on picture books, which are my other great love!
Which book/s are you currently reading?
I’ve just finished the brilliant Cracked, by Clare Strahan, and I’ve just started on the new JK Rowling crime thriller, as well as Apple and Rain, a forthcoming book by Sarah Crossan. My booky friend Jo loaned it to me so I get a sneak peek! Hurrah for booky friends!
Do you have anything specific you would like to say to your readers?
Thank you. Just thank you. And you’re magic.
Thank you Kate for generously giving up your time to answer my questions. As a fellow Beatrix Potter fan – I love your nom de vapour.
I hope you all enjoyed learning a little more about Kate Gordon and her novel Writing Clementine. And be sure to check out my review will which be posted on the blog tomorrow. 🙂
Writing Clementine on 1st July 2014
You said we could write anything we wanted. The first thing that came into our minds. Blue fish, red fish, green fish...
Clementine Darcy is floundering. She wants to be the kind of a fish who swims to the swish of her own fins - upstream, not simply carried along by the current.
But she is finding the swirling waters of school and home difficult to navigate: her friendship group is splintering, her brother Fergus won't leave his room, her sister's life is not as perfect as she thought... And then there's the New Boy, who is dapper and intriguing, but hiding secrets of his own. Clem is desperate for everyone - including herself - to be happy, but she discovers that her idea of helping doesn't always work as well as she imagined.
Can Clem be the girl she wants to be? Will she learn to accept that there are things she can fix and things she cannot? Will she find a way to know the difference?