Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Author Interview: Serena Clarke

This week I would like to welcome Serena Clarke, author of All Over the Place (reviewed here). 

About All Over the Place
(Contemporary romantic fiction with a chick lit feel)
Livi Callaway has fled back to London after a reality TV disaster in New Zealand. Safely anonymous in the big city, she’s determined to stay under the radar from now on. But her attempts to build a new life are complicated by unexpected visitors from her old one, and new dangers and temptations lie in wait.
Late one night, she meets a mysteriously sexy American on the Underground – and the events that follow take her from Pooh Bear to the golden lights of Paris, via a trail of rock stars dead and alive. A family in disarray, a determined Swede, a crazed Australian and a childhood friend (who might yet be more than that) have her all over the place as she tries to discover the American’s secret – while keeping her own.
With help – and occasional hindrance – from her friends, what she eventually finds is something unexpected...sometimes, running away can lead you to exactly what you didn’t know you needed.

Interview with Serena Clarke

Describe your ideal writing space. How does it compare to reality?
Well, if I can choose anything at all… A villa on the water at Lake Como. Snow on the mountains, but warmth in the late spring sun. Bellinis on the stone terrace with my neighbour, George Clooney. I’ll get some writing done after dinner, honestly…

Reality? Somewhere I can’t see the dishes! Most often my bed. From there I have a view out over the neighbourhood, and I can watch the clouds scoot by over the tops of the trees. The sun pours in and it’s always warm, even on the coldest days. It’s not Italy and there are no movie stars, but with lots of pillows and a tabby cat for company, it’s pretty nice.

What is the first story you remember writing and what was it about?
My strongest memory is a piece of writing from when I was about fourteen. Our English teacher asked us to describe a specific, very ordinary place, so I wrote about the school lunchroom. When it came back, he had written that I had “potential”. I hugged that to myself for many years, dreaming of writing fiction. But I needed the push of a significant birthday to hurry me along!

Name a memorable book from your childhood. Why is it memorable?
Can I cheat and name seven? The Narnia books by C.S. Lewis were my favourites, and still are really. For a little girl who had genuinely believed in fairies and pixies, and had no less than four imaginary friends, these books were pure enchantment. And as a grown-up writer, I think it’s essential to hold on to your sense of wonder. I cherish these books for their magic and their extraordinary storytelling, and the certain knowledge that in the end, good will triumph and there is a point to it all. Wherever you stand on life, the universe and everything, that’s something to hold onto I think.

Other than that, pony books! I remember sitting on my father’s knee crying my little heart out, I wanted a pony so much. Many years later, I did have my own horses, but now I count myself lucky that I have sons with zero interest in ponies…

If you could ask any writer (living or dead) a question, who would it be and what would you ask?
Oh, no contest – Nora Ephron. Her writing was so funny and real and absolutely spot on. I don’t think her kind of talent can be explained or passed on, so I’d just invite her for a long lunch and ask her about her amazing life!

If you could pick any of the worlds or characters you have created, which would you want to visit or spend a day with?
I’d spend the day with Livi, the heroine from All Over the Place, at the National Gallery in London’s Trafalgar Square. It’s a special place for both of us! Although we’d need more than a day to do justice to all the centuries of amazing art…

What is one thing you like to do when you are not reading or writing?
This will sound incredibly geeky, but I love going to the library by myself. It’s a complete luxury to be at the library in the middle of a week day, with no children, and all those books to wander through. Bookish heaven.

What are you currently working on?
The story of twin sisters who leave London to join a travelling flash mob in California. Matchmaking, bees, Iggy Pop, loss and acceptance, secrets and sandcastles, a hostage drama, people power in a hyper-connected world, true love, and the trials and joys of sisterhood.

About Serena

Serena Clarke writes smart, sweet and sassy fiction that reflects the international lives we lead – or dream of. No matter where you are, life can be complicated. But it’s also full of magic, possibility and second chances. So yes, you’ll definitely find a happy ending in her stories!

Serena grew up in a family of itchy-footed readers and dreamers – not concentrating, reading the atlas and Narnia books, and planning to escape somewhere magical as soon as she could. When she was 16, she went from New Zealand to live in Sweden for a year. It was the beginning of many travels and adventures – and quite a few disasters! She didn’t know it at the time, but eventually she’d be grateful for all the downs as well as the ups. As writers say in the face of adversity: “I can use that.”

Despite a BA in Scandinavian Studies and a Diploma in Equine Management, she’s done all kinds of completely unrelated jobs – editing an international medical journal, developing photos for the Commonwealth Games, temping in a City law firm, teaching English as a second language to wayward teenagers, and many more.

Having come full circle through seven cities in four countries, she’s now back in New Zealand in her 39th house – probably not the last! Luckily, she has a tall, dark and handsome husband to help look after their two boys while she dreams up stories. Turns out that happily-ever-afters happen in real life too.

1 comment:

  1. Coming in very late to say thank you so much for having me, Brinda! I really enjoyed the interview - great questions. Thanks too for reviewing All Over the Place!


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