INTERVIEW

February 2014

GABRIELLE TOZER

Gabrielle Tozer is a journalist who has worked for numerous Australian magazines. She recently released her debut young adult novel The Intern and is working on the sequel. She lives in Sydney. (Interview by Swati Sharma)

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  1. 1. Tell us about your debut novel The Intern.

    The Intern is a young-adult novel that follows the crazy adventures of country girl Josie Browning, a 17-year-old first-year journalism student who is trying to impress her editor during a magazine internship in the big smoke. The stakes get even higher when she realises she’s in a competition with two other interns and there is a $5000 cash prize up for grabs (money that her family really, really needs as they’re struggling financially). And, just to make things even more interesting, Josie meets James, her cousin’s roommate, and Billy, a famous pop star who can’t stop shaking things up for her…

  2. 2. What inspired the idea?

    I’ve worked in magazines for more than a decade now and had always thought about putting my own fun and awkward spin on the industry. Like Josie (and many other real-life magazine journalists), I had to move away from home to get my first real break so that was a story I really wanted to share, too. The internship challenge, the family dramas, James and Billy were all figments of my rather overactive imagination… they just flowed onto the page one day when I was writing!

  3. 3. Are you planner or a pantster?

    Bit of both. I start by writing a short synopsis to get me thinking about the book as a whole and the potential places I could take the story, then I jot down all my ideas, pick a starting place and pants my little heart out. I tell myself it’s okay to write first and edit later, which seems to give me the creative freedom to write without too much self-doubt (I am prone to nasty little bouts of perfectionism and over-thinking which can slow down and sabotage a writer!). Every now and then, I’ll jot down more ideas for upcoming chapters so I don’t veer too far off on a tangent. This process helps me to create so many fresh ideas that I can’t access if planning everything from the start. The only downside of pantsing for me is the rewriting on the second and third draft – the structure often needs a fair bit of tightening, but this process works for now!

  4. 4. Describe your journey to becoming a published author?

    I’ve dreamed about being an author since I was six, and studied journalism and creative writing at university, so writing a book has always been top of my mind (and top of the to-list, although it took until 2011 until I gave it a proper go). The last eleven years feel like an epic journey between me and my computer. So many deadlines, so many words, so many bylines! To see my first novel in print has been surreal and wonderful – I still can’t believe it’s happening, but I’m grateful every day that HarperCollins took a chance on me.

  5. 5. What’s your average writing day is like?

    On weekdays, I wake up at 5.30am and write/edit my book until 7.30am, then I drink a green smoothie (milk, baby spinach, frozen banana, LSA, chia seeds, water) and walk to my fulltime job in the city, where I work as a senior editor and copywriter from 9-5.30pm. Once I get home, I try to stay off my computer at night time so I can relax, but I often have to answer emails, write blog posts and do social media. On weekends, I set aside larger chunks of time to write during the day, then keep the nights free to relax with my husband JT, family and friends. Yep, needless to say I’m pretty tired!

  6. 6. If not a writer then what would you have chosen as your career?

    I think I would have tried my hand at being a psychologist – like a journalist, you need to enjoy listening to people’s stories. I’m not sure I would have had the patience, though… Luckily this whole writer biz worked out!

  7. 7. What’s that one thing which you wished you knew when you were starting out as an author?

    How to get the right balance between book-writing, a fulltime job and relationships – it’s tough juggling it all, and sadly there’s not a secret one-size-fits-all approach. I love writing books though, so am grateful to JT (who is also my amazing ‘first reader’), family and friends for being so patient and understanding with all the hours I put into my work. Writing can feel a little lonely at times, so it’s essential to have a team of cheerleaders around you.

  8. 8. What’s next?

    The sequel to The Intern is coming out in early 2015, so I am editing the manuscript at the moment. I also have a few other YA ideas rattling around in my head, so once they’re a little more formed I will hopefully get started on those… but first, I’m squeezing in a much-needed holiday with JT!

  9. 9. Any advice for the aspiring writers?

    Just start. Yep, right now. It’s impossible to edit a blank page. Oh, and try not to compare yourself with other writers, especially if you’re comparing your first draft with someone’s final book – it’s paralysing and you would be astounded by how many edits they’ve gone through. Most of all, write what you love and what makes you happy (forget about trends). Happy writing!

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