Q&A With georgia clark
What inspired you to write about this topic?
The inspiration for this story started with a cancer scare of my own. I was in Sydney, on book tour for my last book (The Regulars). While getting a routine Pap smear, my doctor felt a lump. I was scheduled for a diagnostic ultrasound on the same day I was doing my first live TV appearance, a meet-and-greet at Simon & Schuster Australia, an in-depth 30-minute radio interview, and my book launch. Ultimately, the lump was benign, but the stress, fear, and “what ifs” stayed with me.
Has anyone in your life been affected by BRCA?
Not in my immediate family. I was aware of preventive mastectomies, and the concept intrigued me: it felt feminist and raw and emotional; all the things I like in a story. In the first outline, the action was focused around a woman who’d had a mastectomy and was starting to date again. But as I started my research, it quickly became clear that this was not the most dramatic part of a previvor’s journey; that would be the time before the decision. Switching the focus added a ticking clock (always good for fiction!), and then the question of the bucket list naturally arose; what would you want to do with your breasts if you were thinking about losing them? What hadn’t you done? Were you meeting your own sexual needs? This created the story.
How did the writing process differ between The Bucket List and our last book club read of yours, The Regulars?
It was basically a similar process, but The Regulars used a magic realist device to tell a story about beauty, and had three central characters. This is all real, with one central protagonist and a higher stakes predicament. It’s more ambitious in scope and intent, in that I don't have the BRCA1 gene mutation, and had to do a lot of research. Both books are funny and entertaining, and both invoke conversations about the way female bodies define but do not limit us.
We loved how you handled the BRCA1 diagnosis and the emotional roller coaster that come with such a diagnosis. How did you get in that mind space? Did you talk to people/research/etc.?
I did extensive research to bring Lacey's story to life, through in-person or phone interviews with women who'd had mastectomies and women with the BRCA gene mutation who were still deciding what to do; with various medical professionals including surgeons and genetic counsellors; in-person visits to support groups; with BRCA-focused organizations like Bright Pink and F.O.R.C.E.; and, of course, a lot of reading on the subject, mostly memoirs and essays. I also looked at how other authors who undertook similar projects (e.g. John Green for The Fault in Our Stars) conducted their research, and drew inspiration from their techniques.
Through writing this book, I have been introduced to the previvor community; women who have had preventative surgeries to mitigate hereditary risk. I am in awe of these women, many of them young women. I felt strongly called to bring this uniquely female story to the page in a way that was emotional, authentic, and sexy, with plenty of room for humor. I love writing about strong women who make tough choices.
If you were to make this book into a movie or TV series who would your dream cast be?
Lacey Whitman, main character: I love Lili Reinhart (Betty Cooper in the teen noir melodrama, Riverdale): she’s an incredibly expressive and powerful performer.
Steph, Lacey’s best friend/former roommate: Naomi Scott could play Lacey’s empathetic (and slightly over involved) British Indian best friend.
Vivian, Lacey’s co-founder: Awkwafina is dope.
Cooper, Lacey’s love interest: If we cast Lili, we'd have to have Cole Sprouse (Jughead Jones), right? The guy’s the walking definition of nerd chic. Nat Wolff would also nail it. Take your pick.
Elan, Lacey’s other love interest: Tricky: Elan is Iranian-American, but no one immediately springs to mind with that exact ethnicity. Maybe Amr Waked?
Eloise, Lacey’s work frenemy: Gigi Hadid would slay this ice-cool Fashion Editor.
Mara, Lacey’s sister: I picture a young Claire Danes: someone who can access a lot of anger.
Patricia, Lacey’s boss: Patricia Clarkson. She is so beautiful and classy.
Bee, Lacey’s friend: Bridget Everett would be perfect as Lacey’s friend who also has BRCA1 mutation, who undergoes a mastectomy that doesn’t go as planned. Bee is a fantastic character: frank, funny, shameless but also vulnerable and kind.
What would you put on your own bucket list? (Boob or regular)
I’d like to visit Tokyo, open an animal refuge, go on an African safari, not be disappointed by my stomach and flirt with Kristen Stewart.