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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.
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