Kate Clayborn is the two-time RITAⓇ Award-nominated author of highly acclaimed romantic comedies, including Love Lettering, Love at First, and the Chance of a Lifetime series. Her novels have been named Best Romances of the Year by O, The Oprah Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, The Washington Post, Buzzfeed, Romper, and more.
We talked with Kate about her new novel Georgie, All Along, a complex and emotional romance that tackles questions about love, career, reconciling with the past, and finding your way.
How did you first become interested in writing? What draws you to romances in particular?
I have to say, I don’t really remember a time when I wasn’t interested in writing—I think the first strong memory I have associated with it is my first grade teacher hanging up a little story I’d written on the wall of our classroom, which I thought was the biggest deal ever. But I didn’t think of writing fiction as something I could pursue for publication until I started reading romances, actually, which I came to in my late twenties. I was in a really transitional time in my life, and reading romance really grounded me in so many ways—they brought me such a sense of comfort and community. I pursued writing fiction seriously because all I wanted was to try to give even one person that same kind of feeling. Romance saved me, and I genuinely believe it saves a lot of people, in big and small ways, every day.
In Georgie, All Along, personal assistant Georgie Mulcahy rediscovers a “friendfic” that she wrote as a teenager, whose wishlist sets her on a journey of exploration and self-discovery. What sparked the idea for this story?
Well, I have to be honest—I had a friend fic! It was a notebook I shared with two close friends during my first year of high school. We would write these stories to each other and pass the book back and forth. In Georgie, All Along, she and her best friend do the same, although their version of it is a little more focused than mine was—young Georgie and her best friend are very focused on imagining the perfect versions of their lives once they get to the new high school they’ll be attending. My friends and I, I’m embarrassed to say, were far more focused on our celebrity crushes! But I was really inspired by that hopeful, imaginative experience of my teenaged self—I wanted to think about what that notebook represented about the experience of growing up.
As she goes through the ideas in the friendfic, Georgie finds an unexpected partner in grouchy, reformed bad boy Levi Fanning. How did you go about developing these characters and their voices?
Georgie, All Along is dual point of view, with most of the chapters alternating between Georgie’s narration and Levi’s narration, and my hope is that readers will see the difference in their respective voices. I thought a great deal not just about how they talked—their speech patterns, vocabularies—but also how they thought, how the world looked through their eyes. Levi and Georgie both grew up in the same town, but they had different experiences of it, and they’ve also had very different experiences as adults once they each left that town. I hope readers have the sense of their differences but also of how those differences complement each other.
Was there any aspect of the story, as it unfolded, that surprised you?
Yes, for sure! When I first started writing this book, I felt so much fear about creating the character of Georgie, because in my own life, I like to at least believe that I know what my goals are; I am more comfortable when I have a strong sense of self and a strong sense of where I am headed. But writing Georgie was about exploring a feeling I think a lot of us have had over the last two and a half years—that sense of being adrift, that sense of doubt about the world we thought we knew and our place in it. It surprised me how much I genuinely fell in love with Georgie, how brave and honest she is. I learned from her, in that I learned to embrace some of the things in myself that sometimes feel messy or incomplete. She means a lot to me.
What was your favorite part of writing Georgie, All Along? Do you have a favorite moment from the book in general?
There are so many parts of this book I feel passionate about and connected to, but I’ll pick two for now: I loved writing Levi’s dog, Hank, and I loved writing Georgie’s parents. During the pandemic especially, my own dog was my constant companion, and I loved writing about the genuine, loving bond between Hank and Levi. And Georgie’s parents are just a delight—funny and irreverent but so loving and kind. As for a favorite moment on the book…hmm. Let’s just say, if there’s a dock in the scene, it’s a favorite scene for me.
Was there anything you read, listened to, or watched while working on Georgie, All Along that influenced its creation?
This is a boring answer, I’m afraid, but I’m not a person who creates playlists or mood boards when I write; for me this can easily turn into the kind of task I overthink! I would say that every book I have ever written is a culmination of a lot of moments of inspiration—so, for example, the first time I heard Taylor Swift’s song “Invisible String,” I thought that I wanted to write a book that felt like that song. And that’s right around the time I started thinking about Georgie and Levi.
What are you currently reading? Are there any upcoming books that you are really excited about?
My TBR is long right now; this is such a good time for books! I just finished Megan Bannen’s An Undertaking of Hart & Mercy and to say I loved it is an understatement—I thought it was hugely creative and compelling, absolutely magnificent. I also recently read an ARC of Kennedy Ryan’s Before I Let Go and was so moved by it—it’s such a grown-up love story, with a very tender treatment of grief and second chances. Next up I’m diving in to an ARC of Annette Christie’s For Twice in My Life.