Gabrielle Tozer : author & journalist
Gabrielle Tozer : author & journalist
Gabrielle Tozer is a breath of imaginative air. From the moment we met, I felt like I’d known her for years. She is bright, witty, and as a fellow Aquarian, just as mad about things as I am! She is the epitome of following a childhood dream into fruition.Diving into who she is, and how she does what she does was invigorating, and gave a great insight into a world of creativity that will truly never die. She gifted me her books, and as I write this, I’m halfway through the third one! Enjoy reading along.
In your own words, what is it that you do?
“I’m a young adult and children’s author. I’ve written a few different young adult books (‘The Intern’, ‘Faking It’, and ‘Remind Me How This Ends’), I’ve just released my first picture book, ‘Peas and Quiet’, and I also work as a freelance journalist and editor.”
Celebrity crush (male or female)?
“Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman). She is unbelievable”
Favourite app on your phone?
“Spotify Premium (laughs). I bit the bullet and upgraded, and I am completely obsessed!”
Name and type of your first pet?
“We had two little dogs, Max and Milly. Max was an Australian Terrier, and he was a bit of a terror, but beautiful, and Milly- we don’t know what she was, she rocked up on our door one day, and we kept her!”
Red wine or white wine?
“Both? (laughs) And sparkling?!"
Something most people don't know about you?
"I'm 32 years old and I don't have a driver's licence!"
The nitty gritty.
What did you dream of being when you were little, and how has it stuck, or strayed, from where you are today?
“I’m one of those people who has always known what they wanted to do. I had a school assignment when I was about 5 or 6, and we had to list the ten occupations that we wanted to have when we were older- which is quite a big ask for a young child (to do)! But on that list, I had news reporter, author, actress on Home & Away, craft shop owner…. They’re the main ones I remember. What has happened in my life is, from about year 10, I was doing work experience and internships at magazines, newspapers, radio. I was very hungry to follow that news reporter side, and I’d always been told that it’s a really good way to earn a living as a writer. Authors would come to our school, like John Marsden, Margaret Clark, Morris Gleitzman, and I would hang on their every word. It was those moments that locked me in- I wanted to do that as well. I ended up going to university and studying journalism and creative writing, (which meant) I was fulfilling both of those parts in me. I also at one point, around year 11, was looking at psychology- I was really interested in people, the good, the bad, the ugly, what makes people tick, what makes them flawed- and I’ve found that really interesting to explore in my writing, although I never pursued that (psychology). I’ve also never been on Home & Away! (laughs).”
What motivates you to keep going everyday?
“I think the thing with writing- especially novels that are like, 75,000 words long- is that if I didn’t have a story burning inside me to tell, I wouldn’t bother. It is really hard work getting those words on the page, and I think what motivates me is the desire to get those words out of me and sharing it with readers. And it’s my way of gathering my thoughts and feelings onto the page, and letting my imagination go wild. Something I’ve learned in the past is, when writing, if it starts to become hard work, and feel like a chore, then it’s time for a bit of a break. It’s not necessarily a ‘break up’ forever, it may just be time to dabble in some other parts of creativity. I’ve sometimes nurtured other sides of me, like I’ve gone back to dance classes at Sydney Dance Company, or I took up drama classes, and just bringing up those other sides of myself. So motivation for me is that undeniable urge to tell stories- and it really makes me happy. It’s also a point of connection that my husband and I share. He doesn’t write professionally, but we bonded over creative writing, and it’s something that has always been in our lives, which is lovely to share with him.”
If you were to add another talent/area of expertise either to your current business, or just your personal life, what would you do?
“Realistically, one thing I love to do when I’m promoting my books is radio- I would have loved to build up those skills and perhaps have a go at being on radio. In a non-realistic sense, I really really miss dancing, and my number one job over everything- including writing- would be to be a Broadway star (laughs). And I say that not exaggerating! It’s just a shame that I can’t sing, or dance anymore!”
How do you either separate or combine your working and personal life, and how does it work for you?
“In terms of managing personal life and work life, I’d say I’ve had two different periods of my life. One of them was when I worked full time, and the other is when I went freelance. When I was working full time, it was very structured. I would write for two hours before I went to work, then I would do my full-time job, and then I would come home and not do any work at night. I would technically then be spending time with my husband, or my friends, but usually, I was so wiped out that I wasn’t great company to be around, and I would also have to work on weekends sometimes. So it made it very difficult to be spontaneous- I (had become) very one-track minded about work. And that went on for a number of years, until I eventually burnt out, and decided to go freelance. What’s been amazing since going freelance is that I’ve accepted that me trying to control and have a 9-to-5 life when I’m an author- which works for some writers, who strive to be able to compartmentalise it- but for me, it only added more stress. I’ve accepted now that my life won’t be exactly the same every day, ever again, and I’m okay with that. In the past, I was very hesitant to give in to that kind of ‘blurry’ way of working, because I didn’t want to be seen as a workaholic, or have it affect my marriage or my friendships, but because it has actually made me happier, and reduced that stress, my husband doesn’t care less! He just wants me to be happy! So as long as we lock in a date night each week, and I make time in my diary for my friends- because I do live by my diary!- I love it, because no longer do I feel I’m stuck in a rut, or stuck in a routine. No two weeks are the same.”
If you went back to the beginning (say, when you left school), what would you tell yourself?
"Two things. I was very passionate around that age, around 17-18, very social as well- so I was loving the uni life- but I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to get wonderful grades, and going above and beyond with extracurricular activities. The number one thing I would tell myself is relax. You’re 17/18 years old, you’ve got your whole life ahead of you. Take a breath and enjoy this period- it’s going to go really fast! There is time- don’t kill yourself this early, when there are still decades to go. If there was a way I could go back and prevent myself from burning out in my twenties, I would. In a more ‘big picture’ advice- which I probably wouldn’t have listened to at 18, but someone told me at 26 and it really helped me- was this: when we’re young, we think careers need to climb in a non-stop upwards motion- (you’re supposed to) get promotions, and move up the ranks. And that’s how I had defined success- and the women I looked up to in my industry, that’s what they seemed to do. But a man who I was managing at the time- he was a former magazine publisher and editor, so was a far more experienced person than me- but he gave a wonderful tip that careers can go sideways, or down-ways, and it depends on where (your priorities) are in your life. He and his wife were raising two young sons, and he was writing a book, so all he wanted was a part-time job, so for him, he was happy to almost go ‘down’ in his job, because it worked for him. So I learnt about the priorities in life, and now I don’t think about ‘climbing a ladder’ anymore in my career, it’s now about do I feel fulfilled, and not worrying about how a job might ‘seem’ to other people. I think there’s an element of people assuming certain jobs or roles are glamorous, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is going to be the right fit for you. Some of the best and most fun jobs I’ve had have been some of the daggiest jobs, and that’s okay."
What’s next for you?
“I’m going to continue my freelancing business, which involves a lot of writing and editing for a lot of publications, mainly in the field of entertainment and lifestyle and women/youth, and that keeps me quite busy. I’m also going to continue writing books- I’ve had three books come out this year, and I’m working on my new novel, which will come out in the next year or two. And I hope to write more! I’ve got more ideas for other novels and picture books, and I just hope to keep creating! I’ve also been doing more festivals and school visits- I love getting out there and meeting my readers and I want to continue doing that as well.”
Gabrielle and I had a traditional high tea at The Tearoom, QVB.
Gabrielle's tea of choice: 'Refreshing Mint'
Follow Gabrielle on socials: @gabrielletozer