2016-11-02 / Features

Local Express

Tara Clancy

Tara Clancy’s writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Paris Review Daily, The New York Times Magazine, and The Rumpus. She has told several stories on “The Moth Radio Hour,” and has hosted their live shows in New York City and throughout the country. Her stories have also been featured on NPR’s “Snap Judgment,” “Risk!” and “The Story Collider,” among other programs.

Tara was born and raised in Queens, and now lives in Manhattan with her wife and two sons. This is her first book.

QG: What do you miss most about where and how you grew up?

TC: Hands down – the people! So many of my friends and family have left Queens for cheaper real estate outside of the city, or even out of state – in fact, although I’m a fifth-generation native New Yorker, from a huge Irish/Italian family, I am the very last one of us still living in New York City! Sometimes it feels like we natives are an endangered species, truly. The blue collar core of NYC is disappearing and, even when there was a litany of books/films etc. about working class New Yorkers, women were largely absent from those stories. Here’s a wild fact: the last notable book written by a woman like me, about women like me, was A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. That book is 73 years old! That’s a lifetime! That was a major motivator for me in writing my book.

QG: In your book, your family is spread all over different neighborhoods and areas of New York. Is there one place in particular you liked best?

TC: QUEENS! And I’m not just sayin’ that! I truly loved growing up here. From Broad Channel (where I lived with my Dad), to Bellerose (where I lived with my Mom and Grandparents) to Jamaica (where I went to high school), it was just great! There is no other place in this country as diverse as Queens and for me, being exposed to so many different cultures growing up was so important and so special.

QG: How big of a change was Manhattan from Queens? Was it difficult to adjust?

TC: It wasn’t until I moved to Manhattan that I learned I had a New York accent. And, because no one else around me did, it was a frequent (often annoyingly so!) subject of conversation. When I’ve told that story to people who grew up in other parts of this country, they don’t get it, “But Manhattan is like 15 minutes away from Queens, right? Why is your accent such a big deal? Don’t they hear it often?” And I would have to explain that Manhattan may be close to Queens, but in many ways, it’s like another universe! That said, after 15 years, I would say I have finally adjusted to life on planet Manhattan. (Though I’ll always be a Queens girl at heart!)

QG: What are some of your best habits as a writer? And your worst?

TC: Best habit: putting everything else aside and just getting it done! Worst habit: editing as I write.

QG: What are some of your favorite places to go or things to do in Queens?

TC: My favorite thing to do is just to take a drive out to Broad Channel – I always make a point of stopping by my old little house.

I took my sons to the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge this past summer and they loved it. And of course, we all also love the Queens County Farm!

Santoor, in Glen Oaks, is my favorite Indian restaurant in the whole city.

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