NZ Booklovers chats with Gabrielle Tozer, the author of the young adult novel The Intern.
Hi Gabrielle, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions, about you, and about your latest book, The Intern!
My absolute pleasure. Thanks for having me!
You’ve worked for some recognisable magazines – Dolly, Cosmopolitan, Girlfriend… how did writing a novel differ from writing for a magazine?
Three main reasons: 1) The amount of writing. The average word count of the articles I wrote for magazines were only about 400-1800 words, while The Intern was almost 80,000 words! 2) The freedom to write in my own voice. When you write for a magazine, you have to stick to the established tone – your articles have to suit the brand, so you need to adapt your writing to suit. When it came to penning The Intern, I was free to write in my own voice and it was so liberating. 3) The hours on my own. Magazines are a group effort every step of the way. Getting a book out on shelves also requires a cast of thousands, but when it comes to the actual writing, I was by myself – yep, there were lots of weekends cooped up in the home office (chocolate bar in hand, of course).
The Intern’s Rae Swanson is quite a formidable character. Did you ever have an editor like her?
Thankfully no! I’ve been spoilt when it comes to editors, although I’ve met people like Rae Swanson, or with similar terrifying traits to her, over the years. Rae is mostly a figment of my imagination, though, probably stemming from sheer gratitude that I never worked for someone as tough as her (aren’t I terrible, though, putting Josie through it? Naughty author).
How alike are you and Josie?
Probably more alike than I even realise or dare to admit. Close friends have said we’re similar (and even say similar things!). Like Josie, I am obsessed – and I mean obsessed – with Hawaiian pizza, I also have a super-cool little sister who dressed me for my job interview at DOLLY magazine all those years ago, and I was uber-awkward with guys during high school (and may have shared an awful, saliva-heavy kiss with one of them too, a la Josie’s Pete Jordan kiss).
You offer a lot of valuable career advice on your website. What is the best advice you were ever given yourself in regards to becoming a writer?
My high-school English teacher, Cathy Edwards, encouraged me to embrace my own writing style, so I try not to compare myself too much (although it’s hard, especially after reading a brilliant book – I’m looking at you, The Book Thief). Ultimately, though, I don’t write like Shakespeare and that’s okay – I write like me!
When writing The Intern, did you ever imagine what cast would play the characters if it got picked up as a movie?
I didn’t give it any thought while writing because I was too focused on creating new characters. But, since publication, I’ve been thinking (and daydreaming about a movie of The Intern) and for Josie, I can imagine a brunette Abigail Breslin, Ariel Winter or Rhiannon Fish. I know Thomas Lacey from Dance Academy would nail the role of James, while Harry Styles could probably kill it as Billy. I’d be so curious to hear what other people have to say, though!
You sound like a busy woman, with writing novels and freelancing. How do you juggle writing, work, and life?
Poorly! If I really was juggling everything, then let’s just say there’d be a lot of balls crashing to the floor. The past year has been a blur, so my goal for the rest of 2014 is to try to carve out a little more work-life balance. I’m not exactly sure how to do that, but I hope it involves plenty of dancing, movies, reading and downtime with my husband, family and friends (and maybe even brainstorming a new book!).
As soon as readers finish reading The Intern, I’m sure they will start looking for more books by you. I understand that the sequel is due out next year… can you give any hints as to what plot direction it might be taking?
Why thank you, I sure hope so! I wish I could tell you everything (have I mentioned I’m prone to reading spoilers?) but the book is still in very early editing stages so it’s probably a bit too early to spill the beans. What I can say is, the stakes are even higher for Josie this time ’round because she has so much more to lose, so you’ll have to read it in early 2015 to find out what happens to our favourite small-chested, pizza-chomping heroine …
Who are some of your favourite authors?
Tough question! Off the top of my head: John Marsden, Margaret Clark, Morris Gleitzman, David Sedaris, Marcus Zusack, Roald Dahl, Paul Jennings, Sloane Crosley, Bryce Courtney, Kylie Ladd, J.K. Rowling, Christos Tsiolkas, Suzanne Collins, Nick Hornby, John Green, just to name a few.
At what point in your life did you know that you wanted to be a writer?
Age six. I had a school assignment where I was asked to write a list of 10 careers I wanted when I ‘grew up’. On the list? Reporter and author – yes, I was a keen bean! (Although, ‘Craft shop owner’, ‘Someone who works at Grace Bros’ and ‘Actress’ were also on the list, so not every childhood dream was fulfilled… I’m still waiting for Disney to pick up the phone.) I think six-year-old me would be rather pleased with my chosen career path: after all, it involves lots of reading great books and writing kissing scenes.
Gabrielle Tozer is an author, journalist and copywriter from Wagga Wagga, New South Wales. Since moving to Sydney almost a decade ago, she has worked as a managing editor, deputy editor, chief subeditor, senior features writer and freelance for publications including DOLLY, Girlfriend, Cosmopolitan, Bride to Be, DisneyGiRL, Disney Adventures, The Canberra Times and Mamamia. Say hello at gabrielletozer.com, facebook.com/hellogabrielletozer and twitter.com/gabrielletozer.