Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Blogoversary Day 4: Gabrielle Tozer

Today I have 2014 Aussie debut author, Gabrielle Tozer on the blog (: I'm very excited for her book, The Intern, that comes out in February! Did I mention I've always wanted to work in a magazine? Because THE INTERN is about a magazine internship and I get all giddy because I also think of The Devil Wears Prada.

Gabby and I frequently chat on Twitter (well I disturb her when she's #amwriting) and I'll be meeting her towards the end of the month for her book launch *happy dance* We both really like food :DDD

Because Gabby loves me (or so I tell myself), she's doing an interview here on the blog :DDDD

As Gabby is a debut author, let's meet her first:

About Gabrielle Tozer

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 freelancer for publications including DOLLY, Girlfriend, Cosmopolitan, Bride to Be, DisneyGiRL, Disney Adventures, The Canberra Times and Mamamia. Gabrielle’s writing has also appeared in the creative anthologies Take It As Red and GOfish and she is a previous winner of the ABC’s Heywire competition. When she is not churning out the sequel to THE INTERN (yes, that’s why she hasn’t brushed her hair for a while), she loves tweeting, chocolate and watching too much television. Say hello at, and – distractions welcome!

"Josie Browning dreams of having it all.

A stellar academic record, an amazing career in journalism - and for her current crush to realise she actually exists. The only problem? Josie can’t get through twenty-four hours without embarrassing her sister Kat or her best friend Angel, let alone herself.

Josie’s luck changes though when she lands an internship at the glossy fashion magazine Sash. A coveted columnist job is up for grabs, but Josie’s got some tough competition in the form of two other interns. Battle lines are drawn and Josie quickly learns that the magazine industry is far from easy, especially under the reign of powerful editor, Rae Swanson.

From the lows of coffee-fetching and working 10-hour days, to the highs of mingling with celebrities, scoring endless free beauty products (plus falling for her cousin’s seriously gorgeous flatmate James) this is one year Josie will never forget.

Totally fresh and funny, this debut novel from industry insider Gabrielle Tozer reveals just what is behind the seeming glamour and sparkle of the magazine industry."


Q1: What does being an intern like Josie entail?
Oh, what doesn’t it entail? Poor Josie Browning doesn’t know what she’s in for when she’s accepted for an internship at Sash magazine! She was bracing herself for coffee runs and photocopying (tick, tick!) but – in addition to that standard, menial stuff – she actually gets to do some writing, play with all the goodies in the beauty and fashion cupboards – even meet a few celebrities. Throw in the competitive side of trying to impress the editor Rae Swanson more than the other two interns and things start to get very interesting. On a general note, internships are filled with lows and highs so you could be doing vox pops, sorting magazines or fashion/beauty goodies, researching, writing, fetching coffees and everything in between– when I worked at DOLLY one of our interns even starred in a photo shoot for us!

Q2: “Josie can’t get through twenty-four hours without embarrassing her sister Kat or her best friend Angel, let alone herself.” How are the bonds of family and friendship in The Intern tried and tested?
We first meet the family after quite a devastating event, so poor Josie has a whole lot more on her mind than which dress to wear when she is interning at Sash magazine every week. Throw in the fact that her best friend Angel is a bit lost when Josie – a loveable dork through and through – starts forming cool new friendships in the city and it’s a bit like a pressure cooker for everyone! Relationships are definitely tested in The Intern, as it’s a challenging time without a quick solution. (Looking back, I feel terrible for putting them all through it!)

Q3: What would you say is one of Josie’s toughest challenges when first starting out?
For Josie, everything about entering this new world is a challenge! Even the littlest things from choosing the right outfit or knowing how to talk with these ‘goddess-like’ magazine girls leaves her out of her comfort zone. It’s the ultimate duck-out-of-water situation so she has to learn how to fake her way through it pretty damn quickly! Things get even more complicated once she realises how tough Rae Swanson is – a lesson that ultimately gets learned the hard way…

Q4: Josie gets to mingle with celebrities, have you met any celebrities? It sounds like one of the definite perks of the business.
I’ve been lucky to meet quite a few celebrities over the years, especially during my years contributing to DOLLY, DisneyGiRL, BMA Magazine, Prevention and Urban Hitz. Between the ages of 18 and 20 I was a street-press contributor and did weekly phone interviews with national and international musicians, singers and comedians like Naughty by Nature, Charlie Pickering (from The Project), Tripod, Midnight Oil, Grinspoon and Regurgitator– from my uni dorm room. It was the best!
Once I moved to Sydney, I’ll never forget interviewing a 17-year-old Chris Brown before he was dating Rihanna (his Mum was even at the interview!), or a fresh-faced Amanda Bynes in her She’s The Man days – things sure have changed, haven’t they? I had a ball chatting with comedian Hamish Blake and Zoe Foster when they co-wrote Textbook Romance (this was before they got together too!). I couldn’t stop laughing at Hamish, so it wasn’t my most professional interview but I did have a blast.
One of the most vivid (and strange) phone interviews I ever did was with the criminal Chopper Read about his hip-hop album – I was only 21 years old and I don’t think I’d ever been so nervous before an interview. Other memorable stand-outs include meeting the beautiful journalist and TV presenter Jessica Rowe, who opened up to me about her battle with postnatal depression, and meeting the one-and-only Ita Buttrose, who was the original editor of CLEO all those years ago. I treasure these memories and am so thankful I’ve had them, plus many more.

Q5: Can you tell us about Josie’s crush on James?
Yes! This is one of my favourite sub-plots in the book. The crush was a delight to write because it’s so cringe-worthy, and real, and innocent, and sweet. Josie didn’t have much luck with guys during high school so I wanted to introduce someone kind, funny and comfortable in their own skin to catch her eye (without writing a cookie-cutter male lead). I love-love-LOVED writing every hormone-fuelled scene between those two, and at one point during the process even admitted to my husband that I was forming a bit of a crush on James – oops! Hopefully readers feel the same way.

Q6: I hope this isn’t too personal, but how much of The Intern would you say is a reflection of your experiences and memories? Were you ever the coffee-fetching girl?
It’s impossible to pinpoint an exact amount but there are crossovers with my experiences and Josie’s – the main one being we both moved from the country to the city to follow our dreams of becoming writers (all while nursing non-stop cravings for Hawaiian pizza and chocolate). I did plenty of work experience and an internship or two, which I know helped me land my first full-time job at DisneyGiRL magazine. Like Josie, I also have a sister who is way cooler than me (but my sis Jacqui is one of my best friends and nowhere near as feisty as Kat). Ultimately, THE INTERN is a work of fiction. My life is way more boring than Josie’s, which is why I love creative writing – I am allowed to exaggerate snippets from my life and imagination into brand-spanking-new scenarios to entertain you guys (and myself!).

Q7: How would you say your extensive background in editing and journalism has influenced your writing (The Intern in particular)? Are you very pedantic about spelling and phrasing first time around?
My career as a journalist, editor and sub-editor has influenced every step of writing THE INTERN! When I was writing the first few chapters, I was self-sabotaging myself by trying to edit as I went – as a former sub-editor, I couldn’t handle seeing all the mistakes, grammatical errors and plot holes riddled through the draft. This usually transformed into me feeling wracked with self-doubt and avoiding writing altogether! Not ideal.
I realised this approach was holding me back, so I decided to separate my skills into ‘writing’ and ‘editing’ and stop doing both at the same time. So, with my creativity unblocked with this lessened pressure to be ‘perfect’, I put on my ‘Gabby the writer hat’ and let the words flow free and just wrote, wrote, wrote, rarely stopping to fix mistakes (unless they were obvious typos). This worked – I ended up with 80,000 (very messy, very rough) words!
Next, I put on my ‘Gabby the editor’ hat to whip those messy, rough words into shape, usually doing this over many drafts before showing my publisher. This is the same process I have used for writing and editing the sequel and, while I’m sure some writers have a more efficient way of doing things, this seems to be working for now.

Q8: What are 3 tips you can give to someone doing an internship in the magazine industry (and maybe an internship in general?)
  1. Reliability is essential when you’re completing an internship – and the best bit is, if you’re trustworthy, mature and responsible, then you’ll absolutely be trusted with bigger and better tasks over time. So if your manager/supervisor sets a deadline, meet it (even better, beat it!). Prove your worth and it will pay off. I’ve seen interns who float in and out of the office like they own the place, giving themselves early marks and long lunches… needless to say they won’t be the ones upgraded to a job.
  2. Take initiative – if your manager/supervisor is flat-out and hasn’t assigned you something to do, then think outside the box and put yourself to work! Don’t sit on your phone checking Instagram or surfing YouTube clips of cats squeezing into small boxes (as awesome as they are) – continue with work from the previous day or week, write down ideas or research topics you know other staff members are working on, or approach other people to see if they need help with anything. A simple and polite ‘Is there anything I can do to help you today?’ is enough to prove to the team that you’re enthusiastic. Forgive me for the cliché, but the more you put into your internship, the more you’ll get out of it, too. 
  3. A positive, friendly nature goes further than you think – I’m not saying try to be everyone’s best friend, but if you inject a little of your fab personality into your internship, then there’s a much higher chance you’ll be remembered! After all, when the time comes to hire someone, people will want to work with someone who kicks serious career butt and is awesome to be around. It’s totally possible to be both at the same time.

Be right back applying for an internship at a magazine because omg celebrities. Jokes... Maybe...

*Some time later*

Wow guys, how great were Gabby's answers? Thanks so much for your time Gabby! I definitely got an insight into the magazine industry (which doesn't always seem easy) and I'm even more pumped for THE INTERN now

Tomorrow I will be joined by the amazing Amie Kaufman. Be prepared guys.

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