EACH year, Gabrielle Tozer is contacted by dozens of young graduates vying to land a spot in Australia’s competitive magazine industry.The former Canberra girl, who has worked in editorial roles for glossy magazines such as “Dolly”, “Cosmopolitan” and “Girlfriend” for more than a decade, is a prime choice for well-versed advice, but says she often has to set the starry-eyed straight.
“I’m very upfront and tell them it’s not only a hard industry to crack into, it’s hard work once you’re there, and while the glossiness of it all is very appealing, there’s very long hours, not much pay and a lot of grunt behind it all,” she says.
Tozer’s seasoned insider knowledge provided the perfect premise for her debut, young adult fiction novel, “The Intern”, which follows university student Josie Browning in her quest to land a coveted columnist spot at fashion magazine “Sash”.
The book reveals the reality of the magazine industry along the way, from the highs of free beauty products and celebrity interviews to the lows of fetching coffee and working 10-hour days.
Tozer, who was born in Wagga Wagga but studied journalism at the University of Canberra, says while “The Intern” isn’t based on her own experiences, she wanted to bring elements of her personality to the page.
“Josie’s journey is quite similar to mine, a country girl wanting to make it in the big smoke,” she says.
“Writing about magazines and interning seemed like a natural choice for my debut novel… I’ve been working in this industry to some degree for more than a decade, so it was a classic case of write-what-you-know then exaggerate the hell out of it!
“I’ve also loved an underdog in books, movies and TV, so decided to make that my focus of the story, rather than the high-powered fashionistas that we always hear about – I wanted to create a relatable, down-to-earth, dorky main character.”
The novel, which is published by HarperCollins and took Tozer about two years to write and edit while working full time, has been hailed by critics as a fresh, young adult alternative to “The Devil Wears Prada”.
“I decided to write a young adult book because there’s just something about that audience, I just love it, at that age there’s so much excitement and still so many questions, and they’re very dedicated readers,” Tozer says.
“The feedback so far has been amazing – it’s a bit daunting putting something out to the world that you’ve put your heart and soul in for years, but everyone has been so wonderful.”
Unlike Josie, Tozer’s first internship job was a paid position at the University of Canberra’s magazine, “Monitor”.
She also wrote for Canberra’s “BMA” magazine before moving to Sydney for her first full-time gig, as a sub-editor for “DisneyGirl” magazine.
“I never had to go for the coffee run luckily, I was pretty much chained to my desk,” she laughs.
Tozer, 29, now lives in Sydney with her husband Jason, and is already midway through writing the sequel to “The Intern” while juggling a full-time job as senior editor and copywriter for Hoyts.
“I’d love to continue to write young adult books, I have a lot of ideas going around in that genre so to continue my journey as an author… would just be a dream,” she says.
“The Intern” is available from most bookstores. More information at gabrielletozer.com