> Skip to content

Q&A  •  18 March 2024


Georgia Harper says she ‘ruined her mum’s fantasy’

Find out why Georgia Harper’s writing routine ruined her mum’s idyllic vision of a writerly life. Plus, learn about her love for Anne Rice and her unlucky skill for attracting strangers’ stories.

What was your writing process like? Did you have a writing routine or any regular rituals?

My mum says I've ruined her fantasy of how authors write: tucked up in snug cottages chewing on the ends of their pencils while staring wistfully into the rain. Sounds amazing . . . but usually it is: wake in dark, argue with self about getting up, get up, squint at laptop until there are at least a thousand new words on screen, and then jump into life so vigorously that I forget about writing until the next day. Coffee is the lure and the reward.

How did you first come up with the idea for the book?

The central concept for What I Would Do to You came when I started asking myself what I would be capable of if someone did something terrible to someone I loved.

If you could have dinner with any fictional character, who would it be and why?

Right now – and perhaps because I'm not especially hungry – I'd choose Nick and Amy from Gone Girl because I want to know if the plan is reconciliation or revenge. And whether they startle whenever there's a noise in the house. Separate dinners, obviously.

 If you were a character in a novel, what would be your signature quirk or catchphrase?

I'd be a wild old woman in a lavender nightie who climbs out the window of her nursing home every night – cigarette in mouth, oxygen tank in tow – to claim the night.

What fictional world would you want to live in, and how would you survive or thrive there?

When I was thirteen, I found a dusty 1976 first edition of Anne Rice's Interview with a Vampire in a second-hand-book store. I'd read it under my school desk and yearn for a world that paired sensory ecstasy with an ennui born of centuries-old existence. 

In reality, the moral quandary of vampire life would see me snacking on road-kill, which is not especially romantic, and shatters the fantasy of being some 19th-century dark, Parisian queen. Then I found the works that Anne Rice wrote with pen names and thought, Oh, I don't think I'm meant to be reading these . . . 

What's the weirdest talent or skill you have that not many people know about?

In my personal life, I'm like a (rather unholy) priest. People just tell me stuff. Friends, baristas, cranky men at the bus stop. When it's weird or scandalous, I think, 'how delightful'. It becomes less fun when I have to help the person dial Crime Stoppers. (Woodford Folk Festival 2012, I'm looking at you.)

 What's your go-to karaoke song, and how well do you perform it?

I once dreamt that I asked Jack White from the White Stripes if I could perform their cover of 'Jolene' with them at a swim-up bar. He said no, he'd heard me sing. I've taken my hint. (Then the band sipped pina coladas in the pool without me, and I woke up quite miffed.)

 Where is your happy place and why?

In the ocean. As soon as my body is immersed in that endless expanse of water, I am alive and free. Same with galloping through the bush on a horse I'm friendly with.

Feature Title

What I Would Do to You
A compulsively readable debut novel for those who could not put down Dirt Town or Before You Knew My Name.
Read more

More features

See all
Penguin Noir is back with two events in 2024

Learn about two exciting Penguin Random House author showcases this August!

Book clubs
What I Would Do to You book club questions

A stunning, thought-provoking debut to read with your book club.

Some of the most anticipated books of 2024

From authors including Rachael Johns, Amor Towles, Leigh Bardugo and so many others!

Anna Johnston shares the real-life inspiration behind her debut novel

We caught up with Anna Johnston to learn more about The Borrowed Life of Frederick Fife, her writing process, and which fictional character she’d most like to have dinner with.

Deborah Callaghan on writing routines and fictional worlds

The Little Clothes is a clever and affectionate novel from Deborah Callaghan. We caught up with the author to hear about her writing routine, the publishing process and more.

Fun Fact: Sarah-Jane Collins wrote much of her debut novel in a bar

Sarah-Jane Collins shares how her background as a reporter inspired her to write her debut novel, Radiant Heat.

Gareth Brown shares how a yearning to travel inspired The Book of Doors

Plus find out why he’d choose to live in Middle Earth and main difference between him and Hugh Jackman.

How the characters from Abbey Lay’s Lead Us Not came to her in an imagined conversation

The debut author also shares the fictional character she’d most like to meet and why she loved Lemony Snicket’s writing as a child.

Ferdia Lennon shares the Plutarch passage that inspired Glorious Exploits

Plus, find out why he taught himself to memorise an entire deck of cards while researching for the novel.

Book clubs
Jade and Emerald book club questions

A fierce, emotional, and nostalgic novel to read with your book club.

Book clubs
The Little Clothes book club questions

A humorous, provocative and affectionate novel to read with your book club.

Book clubs
The Lyrebird Lake Ladies Choir book club questions

A lyrical, deeply moving story to read with your book club.

Looking for more Q&As?

See all Q&As