Interview of Clementine Ford by Haylee Penfold
I had the pleasure of talking to Clementine Ford about the release of her new book How We Love. I’ll be honest, for a young aspiring writer like myself, talking to Clementine felt like a fever dream, but after a short while on the phone, it almost felt like talking to a wise old friend and my nerves were put at ease.
Clementine spoke about this book as presenting her more vulnerable side on the topic of love and how a lot of people were shocked by the change of tone this release has been from her previous work. “I’ve always had this side to me, all of my work is infused with love. Yes, I get angry, but that is because I want the world to be better.” she explains. I understood exactly what she meant by that, her passion stems from a place of love. Being a feminist and activist, her work has to branch from a place of love and compassion or her activism couldn’t be as enduring as it has been.
When asked why she wanted to write a book on love, Ford responded with “I’ve been thinking a lot about love after having my son,” she continued that although she experienced a new kind of love, it wasn’t like she was living a life that was incomplete before. “I wanted to know what it felt like to care about someone more than I did for myself.”.
She also touches on the subtle feminist message within the book, how as women we are conditioned to believe the most important love we will find in life is romantic. Clementine goes on to explain that romantic love does not always equal the most fulfilling kind of love. “To feel loved is to feel known, and seen and heard.”. There are so many avenues for love, and sometimes the relationships we have that aren’t romantic provide such meaningful understanding that we can’t always find in romantic relationships.
A topic I really admired was how Clementine touched on the loves we experience that don’t always last but that doesn’t mean they are any less valuable. Relationships that end, aren’t failures. We go through life loving people and sometimes those relationships don’t last forever. That’s okay. We learn, we take things from those experiences and progress into our next relationship. Those lessons might not always come from break ups either, it could be from friendships that slowly burn out or summer flings where we were left wondering what could have been.
To entwine grief in a book of love was something so powerful to read. For myself it struck a chord that echoed so loudly within my own experiences. Clementine touched on sharing her experiences of losing her mother, and how that really changed the way she perceives love. “It’s grief that paves the way for other loves to happen,” she then talks about the heartbreaking truth that her son and her mother could never exist within the same timeline. Her experience of losing her mother and the relationship they’d shared expanded when she could see the small ties between her own relationship with her son. That raising her son made her understand her own mother more, even after she’d passed continued that relationship in a new way.
“We take things from love that we need to, they sometimes turn into almost like a guide for how we live our life.”
While talking about the topics within the book, I couldn’t help but share how I related to it. Her written diary of how she came to acknowledge and accept her sexuality came to me at such a vulnerable time. Talking to her, she offered advice for me and for anyone going through something similar. “Congratulations, it’s a wonderful thing to be clear. The most wonderful thing is to begin to really know yourself. Enjoy the exploration of what that means for you, and it doesn’t have to be physical.” With that came a wave of emotions, I felt a boost in my confidence and a renewed comfort in my own sexuality. Reading her words felt to me, like a big sister offering advice in a childhood bedroom. Clementine is someone who welcomes vulnerability and celebrates bravery.
I shared with Clementine how greatly understood and seen I felt after finishing How We Love. That for once, the experiences I felt so alone in weren’t that way anymore. Those things I buried deep inside from shame or misunderstanding were written in her words on the pages I turned. It was then that my admiration for her and her writing were at a new high.
You can grab a copy of Clementine’s book here or support your local bookshop!