Writing Clementine – With Kate Gordon

9781743316634I just finished Writing Clementine by Kate Gordon, and it has been a while since I’ve read such a beautiful and uplifting book.

In a world where so many things seem to be beyond our control, Clementine is a character who embraces life with bravery and an optimism and imagination that can see her through most situations.

Her life is not without problems. She doesn’t fit in with the cool crowd, she blames herself for her brother’s withdrawal from the world, and her perfect sister Sophie seems to be falling apart. On top of this, Clementine seems to be losing her best friends, and life just keeps getting more and more complicated.

An extraordinary teacher and a geeky guy in a pork pie hat might just be what she needs to drag her out of the mire. But Clementine will have to draw on her courage and her unique strengths, and self knowledge.

Clementine is a fixer, but one of the things she has to learn is that the only person whose life you can truly change is your own.

There are so many things I loved about this book. I really connected with Clementine as I think most readers will. Teens will relate to Clementine’s struggles as she tries to juggle all the priorities and people in her life while on her own personal journey to find out who she really is.

This books is so authentic – the characters are vulnerable and multidimensional and the issues they face are very real. The dialogue, relationships and interaction between the characters will resonate well with teens.

There’s a lot happening in Writing Clementine, but each story thread reaches a believable and satisfying conclusion.

The writing is lyrical and the book is interspersed with beautiful poems written in free verse.

There’s also some great humour and a lightness that stops the book from feeling over laden with the number of serious issues it raises.

Clementine’s growth as a character throughout this novel is empowering. She’s a great role model, particularly for girls who are trying to find their own individuality in a world that values those who are thin and ‘cooler than cool’.


SONY DSCKate Gordon grew up in a very booky house, with two librarian parents, in a small town by the sea in Tasmania. She spent her childhood searching for fossils at Fossil Bluff, wondering about the doctor who rode his horse off the cliff at Doctor’s Rocks, and eating the best chips in the world at the fish and chip shop at the wharf. She also spent much of her time dreaming about being a writer.

Kate’s first book, Three Things About Daisy Blue – a Young Adult novel about travel, love, self-acceptance and letting go – was published in the Girlfriend series by Allen and Unwinin 2010. Her second book, Thyla, was published by Random House Australia in April 2011 and her third book, Vulpi, the sequel to Thyla, was published in April 2012. Her latest book,Writing Clementine, was published in June 2014 by Allen and Unwin.

Kate has generously agreed to share her tips on writing Clementine and her inspiration for the book.


This book means more to me than anything I’ve written before. For one thing, it was the first book I completed after becoming a mother – it was the book that told me I could do both. I could still write. It is also the book that is closest to what I want to be writing – the direction I want my writing “career” (for want of a better word), to take. And Clementine is the most “me” of any of my characters. And it’s set on the North West Coast of Tassie, my childhood home. I’m proud of the writing. I’m grateful to the talented people I worked with to create it. It’s been the perfect experience and I’m so thankful to have gone through it.

I started writing the book in the first place to work through a difficult time in my personal life. Writing has always been my therapy and this was never wore true than during the process of Writing Clementine. It started out being a way to examine one issue – mental illness – that was touching my life at the time. It ended up being an unravelling of all sorts of experiences from my past. And I just fell in love with Clem as I was writing her. She inspired me to be braver and to smile and even laugh when it was the last thing I felt like doing. I will always be grateful to her, to Allen and Unwin, and to this book, for bringing the sunshine back into my life.

Five Writing Tips

  1. Don’t be afraid to write what you know. It’s the biggest writing cliché, but your story is interesting. Nobody else has lived your life. Don’t ever think that your experiences aren’t compelling enough to turn into fiction.
  2. Don’t be afraid to tackle tough issues with lightness and even humour. Laughter is what gets us through the darkest of times. Sometimes it is finding the ability to laugh at the tough times that helps us emerge from them.
  3. Don’t be afraid to make your characters both powerful and confident and flawed. We’re all both.
  4. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Clementine went through many drafts before it hit its stride. Write every day. Set yourself a word limit and reach it, no matter how many rubbish words make it up. Rubbish words are better than no words at all. You can always rewrite them tomorrow. That’s the point of tomorrows: to rewrite our yesterdays!
  5. Don’t be afraid to swim against the stream. Just because everyone is writing about vampires or zombies or dystopias, it doesn’t mean you have to. Do your own thing. Be genuine. That’s what will catch an editor’s eye – they can spot a mile away when you’re not being true to yourself.

Writing Clementine is available at all good book stores or online through Allen and Unwin here.

Thanks for visiting, Kate and sharing your wise words with us. I particularly like the tip about swimming against the stream. As writers, we have the power to influence change through what we do, which is why it’s important for us to do our own thing.

Happy writing:)





4 thoughts on “Writing Clementine – With Kate Gordon

  1. An insightful, heartwarming and thought-provoking interview which leaves me with much to ponder at my writing ‘crossroads’.
    Thanks Dee and Kate.

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