Writing has always been Claire’s first love. She wrote her first novel in grade two about a snake named Bronson coming to live with her and my family and causing trouble. She’s always made sense of the world by writing about it…but when she was younger, I never considered it could be her job.
Claire grew up on the Gold Coast as an opinionated, quirky, theatre-loving, chubby kid, who never really felt like she fit in. When it came time to decide what She’d study after school she chose teaching, because she loved her high school Drama teacher, her writing was private, and she knew she didn’t want to be an actor. It felt like the only option. She, nor her parents, really knew what a career in the arts might look like. Teaching was safe.
Claire loved uni. She loved her degree. For the first time ever, she felt like she met people who got her. And she discovered that she had a very natural knack for, and adored, working with teenagers.
When Claire was twenty-five, and teaching, she couldn’t find a play suitable for the kids at her school and decided, quite offhandedly, to write her own. This play, fittingly called BLOOM, changed the trajectory of Claire’s whole life. BLOOM won the Queensland Theatre Young Writers Award (2008) and secured her a place in The Royal Court Young Writers Program in London (2009). Suddenly, Claire started meeting artists, having her work read aloud, winning grants, and studying more. It felt like being invited into a whole new world. So, Claire side-stepped teaching for a while and started working for theatre companies running their youth and education programs, creating big youth arts projects, while at the same time making independent theatre, producing, and learning the Australian theatre landscape.
In 2017, Claire made her main-stage directorial debut directing Michelle Law’s smash hit SINGLE ASIAN FEMALE, which has since toured to Sydney and Melbourne. In 2018, ten years after Claire won that first play writing award, she debuted her first main-stage production as a playwright, LYSA AND THE FREEBORN DAMES, a contemporary feminist riff on Aristophanes’ Lysistrata at La Boite Theatre. Claire’s whole heart is in both of these projects.
Another that she’s most proud of is TRACTION, the Queensland Theatre Logan Youth Ensemble. Where Claire worked every Wednesday as its lead artist, making theatre with a group of about sixty young artists in Logan for four years. It changed her life. It’s where she met the Mama’s Boys, a theatre collective made of thirteen, incredible, diverse, young male artists. They’ve been making a work called BOOK CLUB for the last few years, which was set to debut in 2020, but COVID-19 happened.
Claire LOVES working with young people. She believes they are almost always underestimated, and their art undervalued. Young people need adult allies to remind them that they are okay, exactly as they are. Claire believes that art changes young people, and young people will change the world.
While all of this glorious stuff was happening Claire was secretly working away on her first novel…second, if you count Bronson’s exploits as legit. This was a scary pursuit, as it was the biggest, realist dream of them all – to be an author. In 2016 she won the Text Publishing Text Prize for her Young Adult novel BEAUTIFUL MESS. A dual narrative story about two teenagers dealing with life’s biggest, shittiest life stuff and learning to see its beauty. It’s been translated into multiple languages and she will never not be excited that her words are in a book that you can buy and read. Claire’s life trajectory changed again.
Claire spent the next few years writing her second novel, which at the end of 2019, secured me a three-book deal with Text Publishing. I’ll be writing a glorious, adult romantic comedy a year for the next three years. IT’S BEEN A PLEASURE, NONI BLAKE, is a queer, pleasure-seeking romp that finds thirty-six year old Noni on a quest to try and right the wrongs of her sexual past and inject more pleasure into her life. It was released in October 2020.
At the end of 2019 Claire won a Queensland Premiers Literary Award Fellowship to write her second Young Adult novel THE INVISIBLES. And at the end of 2019 she secured a Screen Queensland Talent Fund Grant to adapt BEAUTIFUL MESS into a screenplay. The end of 2019 was stellar…and then 2020 happened. Projects have been cancelled, things feel uncertain, but she is still writing. Joy-centered, sex filled, empowering romances feel more important than ever right now.
Claire currently teaches Acting at the Griffith University Conservatorium, and facilitates workshops for teenagers and teachers.
Claire really wishes that getting tattoos didn’t hurt, that her pug Midge could talk, and that she could change her hair with an intentional blink. If Claire could have dinner with anyone at all it would be Oprah, Lindy West, Idris Elba and the entire cast of Dawson’s Creek – because CAN YOU EVEN IMAGINE?!?
Bio paraphrased from Claire’s website