As we wrap up Pride Month of 2022, there are many reasons to keep up the fight for our fundamental human rights, but we also have to find joy in all ways possible. Pride is a celebration of all of the work that Black and brown queer people did to help us get our lingering (thanks SCOTUS) freedoms that we have today, and as we continue to celebrate Pride Month, we have to remember to look for the joy and see how far we have been able to come because of their tremendous work (See: Annie’s latest piece on Brandi Carlile for example).
Georgia Clark is one example of this queer joy. A queer woman herself, Georgia has written multiple other books with queer characters, however, never one as a central character to the story. Georgia wanted to change that with her newest release, Island Time, which was released on June 14th, just in time for Pride Month.
Meet Georgia Clark!
Georgia Clark is a novelist and performer. She’s also the author of It Had to Be You, The Regulars, The Bucket List, and more. She’s also the host and founder of the popular storytelling night, Generation Women. A native Australian, she lives in Brooklyn with her hot wife and sweet baby. You can find her on Instagram @GeorgiaLouClark.
Claudia Neu: What inspired you to write Island Time? Is there a specific place and time you had in mind while writing about the island?
Georgia Clark: I was inspired to write this book as a reaction to the cultural conditions it came out off, specifically the pandemic. Island Time was the answer to big, existential questions about what I REALLY wanted to write about and put out into the world. The clearest and most pressing answer, forged in the brutal Spring of 2020 in New York City, was queer love stories.
The time and place I had in mind was, of course, my home country! I wanted a story to take me to the place I couldn’t go and the people I couldn’t see. Australia closed its borders in March 2020. I was homesick and missed my family. I wanted to be in nature, on a beautiful island, surrounded by my home country’s quirky fauna and flora. When I write, I can really see/smell/hear/taste/touch my setting. Writing this book was like taking an extended vacation to Mun’dai. It was a true joy.
CN: Are the Kellys and the Lees inspired by your family and your wife’s family? What compelled you to want to write about these two wildly different families and their vacation together?
GC: The Kelly family is a loving, fictionalized ode to my family, who I missed so much during the pandemic. My wonderful mother, Jayne, never leaves the house without her Bunnings hat, makes her own jam, and worked in bush regeneration. However, her and Jules’ personalities are quite different—my mum loves her granddaughter but is not baby-hungry and not an extrovert like Jules, either. She is separated from my dear old dad, who basically is Glen—a shy and clever retired electrical engineer who loves jazz and tricky crossword puzzles. Not a bird watcher though! My actual in-laws are very different to the Lees, who were invented more as direct foils to the Kellys: stylish, cool, independent Ludmila and fit, confident alpha male, Randall. Opposites work well in fiction—they’re all but essential in a successful buddy comedy, which is Glen and Randall’s storyline. And I wanted to tease out different versions of motherhood, which worked well with the two moms.
CN: As a queer woman, engaged to another woman, seeing myself represented in the relationships in mainstream romantic books means the world to me. What was your inspiration to write this queer sapphic romance? Have you always wanted to write books specifically with queer characters?
GC: All my books have had queer characters but I’ve never had a queer romance as the central story–I knew I wanted to change that with this book. I also wanted to expand the idea of queerness, so we didn’t just have a new couple falling in love, but also a married couple at a very different phase of their relationship. As a married queer woman, I wanted to see myself in fiction, as well as the enjoy the first blush of new (gay) love.
CN: I saw on Instagram that you describe this book as “deeply personal.” How did writing this book help you towards becoming the person you are today?
GC: It’s very gratifying to lay yourself bare in fiction. It’s scary but it’s also courageous. Writing ensemble stories creates empathy. It helps you see things from someone’s else’s perspective and understand the limits of your own. So it helped me in that sense. Writing this book also made a very dark time unbelievably bright for me. This book really saved me from spiraling over the last few years. I feel so lucky that I was able to write and publish it.
CN: Do you have any other novels in the works that readers can look forward to?
GC: Yes, my next book is another queer ensemble rom-com, set up in the Catskills, over the holidays! It’s very Christmassy and romantic and sexy and fun. I also have my monthly storytelling series, Generation Women, which invites a woman or non-binary performer in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s+ to tell an original story on a theme. And later this summer myself and fellow author Hannah Orenstein are launching Heartbeat, a Substack showcasing the best short love stories. Sign up at theheartbeat.substack.com.
CN: Do you have any specific queer authors who are your favorite or who you are inspired by?
GC: So many! Glancing at the stack of books beside my bed, I see Casey McQuiston, Jeanette Winterson, Alyssa Cole, and André Aciman.
CN: Over here at Feminist Book Club, we are obsessed with books of all kinds and we are curious—what are you currently reading?
GC: I’m currently reading Book Lovers by Emily Henry and This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub. Recently I loved Seven Days in June by Tia Williams and The Guncle by Steven Rowley.
About Island Time
Love is in the salty sea air in this smart and steamy ensemble romantic comedy set in a tropical paradise, from the author of the “sparkly and entertaining” (Oprah Daily) It Had to Be You. This is one island you won’t want to be rescued from.
The Kellys are messy, loud, loving Australians. The Lees are sophisticated, aloof, buttoned-up Americans. They have nothing in common…except for the fact that their daughters are married. When a nearby volcano erupts during their short vacation to a remote tropical island off the coast of Queensland, the two families find themselves stranded together for six weeks.
With only two island employees making up the rest of their party, everyone is forced to question what—or who—they really want. Island Time is a sumptuous summer read that dives deep into queer romance, family secrets, ambition, parenthood, and a bird-chasing bromance. This sexy, sun-soaked paradise of white sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, and lush rainforest will show you it’s never too late to change your destiny.