5 questions with Dianna Clarke

5 questions with Diana Clarke

In Author Conversations by Sarah Sung

5 questions with Dianna Clarke

We love any opportunity to get to know our favorite authors better. So a lightning round of questions sounds like a good place to start. Here, we ask five quick questions (with one wildcard) about books, genres, reading preferences, writing style, and their secret to success. 

New Zealand native Diana Clarke brings honesty and energy to this interview — just like she does to her novels. Considered a Roxane Gay protege (Gay was her thesis advisor during her MFA program), it’s no surprise that Clarke’s debut novel Thin Girls, which explores body image issues and queerness, is gutsy and candid. Same with her second novel The Hop, another page-turning feminist novel.

Here, Clarke shares everything from her writing process to drinking wine with her aunt Valerie.

1. What are your all-time favorite books?

Diana Clarke: The first book I read, and read, and read again was E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. When I moved from New Zealand to the States, it was the only book I took with me. When I adopted my dog, Moody, he immediately ate the back cover because he has impeccable taste. It’s still the best friendship story I’ve ever read. I love Duras The Lover and Lessing’s The Golden Notebook and anything Toni Morrison ever wrote. I’m also in awe of poets and the art they make in such small spaces; I’m a big fan of Jamaal May, Hieu Minh Nguyen, Chelsey Minnis, and Hera Lindsay Bird, a Kiwi poet.

2. What’s your favorite genre to read?

Diana Clarke: Literary fiction is what makes me want to write, but if I’m reading for fun, give me almost anything else. Romance, memoir, poetry — if you put words in front of me, I’ll read them and probably find something to love in them.

3. Which do you prefer: ebook or audiobook?

Diana Clarke: Audiobook! Especially if the author is reading their work themselves. I love hearing a story the way the writer intended for it to be heard.

4. What’s your writing routine or process? 

Dianna Clarke: I wake up early and write while it’s still dark and quiet, when it feels like I have the world to myself for a while. I’m also less critical in the mornings before social media and the news get to me, which makes the writing flow easier. In the afternoons, I go back through my words and cut and revise. Sometimes, at night, I’ll read what I’ve written that day, but I do it in read-only mode, because my night-self’s judgment cannot be trusted.

5. How much of your writing success is due to hard work, talent, or luck?

Dianna Clarke: I got a B in the one undergraduate creative writing class I took, so we can probably rule out talent. I work really hard. During my MFA, I was a 5,000-words-per-day kind of girl. I’ve been incredibly lucky, too, especially with the teachers and readers and friends I’ve found along the way.

Wildcard: If you could have coffee/tea with anyone alive or dead, who would it be and why?

Dianna Clarke: My aunt, Valerie. She died when I was young, and I didn’t know her very well, but the way my mum and grandparents talk about her makes me feel like we were similar in both the things we love about the world and the things we find most difficult about it. I’d like to request that we switch the cup of coffee for a glass of wine, though. I feel like she’d be pissed if I brought her back from the dead and offered her a cappuccino. 

Books by Dianna Clark:


About the Author: Sarah Sung

Sarah is the Editorial Director at Scribd who obsesses over content strategy and brand building, and has written lifestyle content for AFAR, San Francisco Chronicle, and Under Armour. In her spare time she teaches indoor cycling and consumes podcasts, audiobooks, and ebooks at all times of the day and night. Traveling and dining out are always high on her to-do list