Interview with Poet and Fiction Author Chloe N. Clark

by Emerson Barrett

Issue 2.1 (“The Anthropocene”) assistant editor Emerson Barrett spoke to writer and poet Chloe N. Clark about her piece, “Please.” Clark’s poem is the first to be published in Hivemind Magazine.

Emerson Barrett: How long have you been writing creatively?

Chloe N. Clark: I have been trying to write since I was very young, probably three or four. I used to write tiny books with illustrations around that age (unfortunately for everyone in my life). I started probably more fully pursuing creative writing, though, in my teens. 

Emerson Barrett: What is the biggest inspiration for your work? 

Chloe N. Clark: Definitely the world around me. I constantly find inspiration in weird facts, science, and overheard conversations.

Emerson Barrett: Who is your favorite author and what is your favorite piece of literature?

Chloe N. Clark: This is impossible to answer because it changes based on the day, my mood, and which author I happen to be thinking about. But recently I am as in love, as I’ve always been, with Percival Everett (The Trees), Alejandro Zambra (Chilean Poet), and Emily St. John Mandel (Sea of Tranquility).

Emerson Barrett: What is your favorite genre to read from?

Chloe N. Clark: This also depends on mood–so maybe I’m just indecisive! I have a special place in my heart for sci-fi and horror, but I’m also the most picky with those two genres as to what I read/enjoy.

Emerson Barrett: On your website you say that you write “poetry and fiction, and some essays about food…” as well as critical scholarship; which of these would you say is your preferred style to write?    

Chloe N. Clark: I’m definitely a fiction writer at heart–telling stories is what’s essential to me (which is probably why my poetry leans into the narrative as well). That being said, I’m also a total chaos demon so I really love prose-y poetry and poetic prose.

Emerson Barrett: Is there any one story by another author that you wish you had written first after reading it?

Chloe N. Clark: I don’t think so. While there’s plenty of writers who’d I love to have the talent of, I’ve always thought a piece of perfect writing is often perfect because it could only have been written by the person it was written by.

Emerson Barrett: What would you say is your usual writing process? Do you start with a character, a plot, a world, etc?

Chloe N. Clark: I always start with a single line or image. Sometimes I’ll have that image in my head for years before I’ll know what comes next, and sometimes I’m flooded with other images right away. Then, I’m usually someone who sits down and knocks out a first draft in one sitting when I can. Then revision begins, which can take years.

Emerson Barrett: Is there a certain perspective you particularly enjoy writing from? This could be anything from gender or time period, to kind of being (android vs. human, etc.).

Chloe N. Clark: I love writing from the perspective of people who feel outside of their surroundings in some way, people who don’t fit in.

Emerson Barrett: How do you think being a teacher and scholar of science fiction and horror has informed your work as an author? Do you think it influences the subjects of your writing or the perspectives you write from?

Chloe N. Clark: I think being cognizant of the power of narrative and how these genres have been used to portray other groups of people is extremely important to my writing. I try very hard to write in ways that use language for good rather than harm. I’m not sure if it influences the subject matter; even before studying these genres, I was drawn to ones that explored social topics in complex ways.

Emerson Barrett: In your works such as “Please” and “The Waves Hear Every Promise You’ve Made,” do the worlds you create come from a place of imagining the extremes of human influence – as we see in the Anthropocene, or the Age of Man – with pollution, globalization, climate change, etc., or more so from a place of pure imagination?

Chloe N. Clark: Probably a combination, to be honest. I’ve always been concerned for the environment, and preferred the natural world to most things, so I think that’s been inherent to my imagination since I was a child. That being said, I think it’s wild that someone could write science fiction right now WITHOUT thinking about what we’re doing to our environment.

Emerson Barrett: Do you think that humanity will be able to work together to reverse some of the more negative effects we have had on our environment?

Chloe N. Clark: I describe myself as a pessimistic optimist. I always hope and believe that we can work together to create real change, but I’m a realist about the fact that without a global level (so leaders and corporations enact actual tangible change) there’s only so much we can do on an individual level. And, at this point, we have to make monumental changes (which is hard! Because there are so many systemic barriers to people being able to make changes on the individual level and because it’s so easy for corporations to offer platitudes rather than actual, productive changes). 

Emerson Barrett: And finally, do you have any advice for other people who wish to pursue writing speculative fiction and/or poetry?

Chloe N. Clark: Read the things you want to write, but also follow rabbit holes–a lot of my pieces have come out of seeing a random science fact or having a random thought about how something works and then reading a bunch of stuff on it. 


About Chloe N. Clark

Chloe N. Clark is an author of poetry and fiction, with a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Environment. Her works have appeared in publications such as Abyss & Apex, Midwestern Gothic, Sleet, and others. She is also the founding co-editor-in-chief of Cotton Xenomorph, an online literary journal. Her website is https://www.chloenclark.com/.

About Emerson Barrett

Emerson Barrett is an undergraduate student majoring in History, Technology, Society at Georgia Tech, with a concentration in Global Studies. She has always been an avid reader of all things fantasy and science-fiction, developing her love for stories at a young age by listening to audiobooks with her father on her way to school and reading the Harry Potter books with her mother every night before bed. Emerson enjoys reading and writing short stories in her spare time, and attended the Sewanee Young Writers’ Conference in 2018. Her favorite authors of all time are Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.

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