Gabrielle Tozer is one of our favourite #LoveOzYA authors (not that we pick favourites, but if we did, she would be one of them… shhh), and we’re so excited to share this little Q&A with you for #LoveOzYA Month! We hope you like it!
Why is #LoveOzYA important to you?
Australia is brimming with creative writing talent – and it’s important to support local industries! We have a wonderful #LoveOzYA community filled with authors, bloggers, Instagrammers, YouTubers, editors, publishers, publicists, agents, designers – and everyone else who toils passionately behind the scenes – and I want to do my tiny bit to help keep this hardworking and essential corner of the literary community thriving. If we want local stories to keep being published for all audiences, then it’s not just important to elevate Australian voices – it’s essential.
Absolutely! There’s so many talented people in the #LoveOzYA community, and we’re so thankful for all the work they do. Our community wouldn’t be the same without everyone’s spectacular contributions, no matter how small they may seem!
What are some of your favourite Aussie books at the moment?
I’m pregnant and close to popping so my reading list has been waaay more non-fiction-based and medical than usual. However, in between all the baby-prepping, I really enjoyed Pip Harry’s Because of You. It tackles such tough issues in a sensitive and beautiful way, plus its based in an area of Sydney that I’ve spent a lot of time and she nailed it. The mood, the feel, all of it. Eliza Henry-Jones’ YA newbie P Is For Pearl (which comes out in 2018) is next on my bedside table TBR list!
Because of You is on both our TBR piles! We’ll definitely have to keep an eye out for P is for Pearl when it’s released too.
What do you love most about the #LoveOzYA community?
I adore the #LoveOzYA community’s passion for books and reading (and often writing!). Nothing makes me happier at an author talk than seeing a few familiar faces from the community waving and smiling at me from the audience.
We couldn’t agree more! It’s allowed us to meet so many people, and there’s always someone we know at a launch or another bookish event. Everyone is so lovely and welcoming!
How do you spread the love of #LoveOzYA?
I always mention Australian authors and books, as well as the #LoveOzYA movement and anthology, during writer festivals and school visits around the country. Plus, like the rest of the amazing community, I share the love for other authors on social media, especially on Twitter and Instagram – and I’ve blurbed a few new #LoveOzYA novels, too!
Was setting your novels in Australia an easy decision to make?
Absolutely, especially with Remind Me How This Ends and my short story ‘The Feeling From Over Here’ (which features in the #LoveOzYA Anthology). I wanted to publish a few stories through the lens of what it’s like to grow up as an Aussie rural or regional kid – I’ve worked with ABC’s Heywire program, which is for teens in rural and regional areas around Australia, and I wanted those readers to feel represented too. Plus, even though I’ve lived in the city for more than a decade, I’m a country gal myself so that was extra important to me! Both of those stories are very close to my heart.
We adore your work and how Aussie it is, especially, as you mentioned, Remind Me How This Ends. It really wouldn’t be the same book without that distinctive Australian flavour, and that’s part of why we love it so much.
Speaking of your books, can you give us an idea of what your writing process is like?
Warning: it’s never pretty seeing how the sausage is made! Four novels (one to be published in 2019), a short story and a picture book down and my process has evolved. A lot. These days, I’m a plotter (but I like to leave room in between for imagination to take over) so before I write a word of the story I have mapped out a few things: my characters (although I get to know them more with every draft), the narrative arc and subplots, why I want to tell this story (this helps to keep me motivated), a rough tagline and a blurb (the kind you would read on the back of a book).
I write the first draft without making any edits. So it’s shitty. Really, really shitty. But that’s OK because I can edit it!
Once the first draft is done, I print it off at Officeworks and go through it with a red pen and pretend I’m editing my worst enemy’s work. By the end, the pages look like a bloodbath. I make the changes and give a copy to my first reader, who then provides me with constructive feedback about things that need tweaking / things that may need redoing completely – this is a brutal but essential part of my process!
After that, I go through it again on my own, doing extensive self-edits until I know it’s ready for another set of fresh eyeballs and round of feedback. When I have that feeling, I email it to my publisher and we go from there! But, just to be clear, the “first draft” they read is usually my fourth or fifth draft. You lose track of how many times you read your novel.
That’s really interesting! And it’s always so important for writers, especially aspiring authors and upcoming writers, is that the first draft is never perfect and that a book is the result of many, many edits. But the most important thing is to get the words down first, because you can’t edit a blank page!
Can you tell us anything about what we’ll see from you next?
My next published book with HarperCollins is a children’s novel (upper primary) due out in early 2019. Once again, it’s completely different to anything readers have seen from me before so I’m excited to share this part of my imagination with everyone.
I also have an idea for another YA novel that I would love to write, so I hope to tinker away with the first draft in between falling in love with my new bub. Author Catherine Deveny encourages people to “write in the cracks” so I plan to do that myself!
Thank you so much, Gab!
Gabrielle Tozer is the internationally published author of three YA novels: The Intern, which won the State Library of Victoria’s 2015 Gold Inky Award, Faking It and Remind Me How This Ends. Her first picture book, Peas and Quiet (illustrated by Sue deGennaro), was published in June 2017, and her YA contemporary short story ‘The Feeling From Over Here’ (featured in Begin, End, Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology) is also out now.
Based in Sydney, Gabrielle loves sharing her passion for storytelling and creativity, and has appeared at festivals, schools and conferences around Australia including the Sydney Writers’ Festival, Bendigo Writers’ Festival, National Young Writers’ Festival and the Somerset Celebration of Literature. She has also been featured on Weekend Today, Triple J and ABC Radio, as well as in The Sydney Morning Herald, Dolly, Girlfriend, TV Week and Cosmopolitan.