Welcome to Tea with Mrs B, an author interview series. Here to share a pot of tea and to chat about her brand new book, Melody Trumpet, is Gabrielle Tozer.
Gabrielle Tozer is an award-winning and internationally published author and freelance writer based in Sydney, Australia. She has published five books, including the young adult novels Remind Me How This Ends, which was on the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s 2018 Notable list and longlisted for the State Library of Victoria’s 2018 Gold Inky Award, Faking It and The Intern, which won the 2015 Gold Inky Award.
Her first picture book, Peas and Quiet (illustrated by Sue deGennaro), was published in 2017, as was her YA contemporary short story ‘The Feeling From Over Here’ (featured in Begin, End, Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology, the Book of the Year for Older Children at the 2018 ABIA Awards). In 2019 she will be releasing her first children’s novel, Melody Trumpet, and she is currently working on another young adult novel. (Yes, that’s why she still hasn’t brushed her hair.)
Hello Gabrielle. It is my pleasure to welcome to my blog, Mrs B’s Book Reviews. Thank you for joining me for Tea with Mrs B, an author interview series. To set the mood for our tea infused interview, what is your preferred beverage, tea, coffee or other? And side accompaniment, scone, cake or other?
“Tea-infused interview”. Am I in a wonderful dream? You are speaking my language! All the tea, always. Always. (Even the peas in my picture book Peas and Quiet are addicted to their daily tea-drinking sessions.) But if I have to choose, then one green tea with a generous slice of my mother-in-law’s lemon cheesecake, please and thank you. And if you’d like to kick on later, then I wouldn’t say no to a glass of bubbles and a bowl of fries either…
Can you tell us what genres you write for and how many books you have had published?
I write contemporary young adult (YA) novels, and fun, fantastical stories for younger readers. I have written three YA novels (The Intern, Faking It and Remind Me How This Ends), one YA (long) short story (‘The Feeling From Over Here’, featured in the YA anthology Begin, End, Begin), one picture book (Peas and Quiet) and one middle grade/junior fiction novel (Melody Trumpet).
Melody Trumpet, your middle grade fiction debut is about to be released. Can you describe the book in just a sentence?
It’s a story about a young girl born into music royalty who is struggling to find her voice and place in the world; it’s about learning to find the extraordinary in the ordinary moments; and it’s about the transformative power of friendship, creativity and authenticity.
What came first in the creation of the novel – the title, plot, characters or setting when you first set out to write Melody Trumpet?
A few elements crash-landed in my brain at the same time: the character Melody, her villainous but hilarious buffoons of music superstar parents Viola and Barry T. Trumpet, and the beginnings of the plot (Melody not living up to their grand expectations of what a heir should be). I was standing in Officeworks at the time (printing off a version of Remind Me How This Ends to edit for the zillionth time) so quickly emailed myself as much detail as I could remember before it disappeared on me and before my phone battery ran out.
How long did it take you to write Melody Trumpet?
I loved the idea from the beginning but was in the middle of editing Remind Me How This Ends so I had to keep pushing the idea of Melody Trumpet aside so I could prioritise my contracted novel. I wrote Melody Trumpet in bursts in late 2016 and throughout 2017 while editing RMHTE, working as a freelance magazine writer and editor, and while juggling a vomit-heavy pregnancy so it’s hard to track how long it actually took.
Did you need to undertake any research to bring Melody Trumpet to life? How did you incorporate this research into your book?
As the book title suggests, there’s a heavy musical theme in Melody Trumpet. I played the piano (and sat exams etc) and studied music during school so that influence comes directly from my background. It’s been a long time since I’ve played though as I haven’t lived somewhere that has space for a piano since Year 12! It was a joy to tap into that side of myself and it’s certainly sparked my interest in learning to play again one day. My sheet music is in storage at my parents’ place, so now I’m just waiting for a day when I can use it again!
I’ve kept the terminology throughout the book as simple as possible so it’s not alienating for those without any music background, however there’s also little touches in there for those who know music. For example, Melody’s private music tutor’s name is Mr Pizzicato – “pizzicato” is a type of playing technique where you pluck the strings. And Melody’s mother’s name is Viola, which is a type of string instrument. There are loads of little mentions and puns woven through the story like that. Even Melody’s friend, Freddie Bloom, is named after my beloved Freddie Mercury – frontman of Queen and one of the most iconic and talented singer-songwriters and performers of all time.
How different was the experience of writing Melody Trumpet, compared to your other YA novels?
Unlike writing my YA novels, Melody Trumpet was a joy to write almost most of the time – ha! That sounds terrible, doesn’t it? But the truth is, I tend to get a bit angsty while writing the first draft of my young adult novels but creating the first draft of Melody Trumpet filled me with pure joy (even though she has to endure some pretty tough stuff too).
Another big difference? I wrote a chunk of Melody Trumpet while nerding out on a writers’ retreat with my husband in the Blue Mountains in late 2016 then went months and months without touching it again because I had RMHTE, Begin End Begin and Peas and Quiet to finish and promote. Then to change things up even more… I fell pregnant! So the biggest difference was trying to write a book I was super-passionate about when I couldn’t stop falling asleep or vomiting.
I also did the structural edit for Melody Trumpet while Sienna was a young baby (with a lot of help from my husband and my parents, who were visiting from out of town) so there was a few jam-packed weeks of nipping down to the café below our apartment around breastfeeds and power naps for 1-2 hour blocks to get through that. It feels like a blur now!
What do you hope readers will take away from reading Melody Trumpet?
I’d love readers to know it’s okay to be themselves, flaws and all. I’d loved them to feel empowered to pursue their interests and hobbies, even if it’s not what others may have planned for them. And I’d love them to be kind and look past first impressions because even though someone’s life may seem perfect on the surface they may be going through something too.
What is next on the horizon for Gabrielle Tozer? Do you have any writing projects you would like to share with us?
I am tinkering with another young adult contemporary novel idea, a picture book idea and more middle grade ideas so time will tell which story commands my attention the most in 2019… stay tuned!
Finally, wrapping up our tea themed interview, who would you most like to share a pot of tea with?
Jamie Morton, James Cooper, and Alice Levine (the legends behind the podcast My Dad Wrote A Porno). Also: Jonathan Van Ness, Michelle Obama, Reese Witherspoon, Elizabeth Gilbert, Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York), Tina Fey, Andy Samberg, Jameela Jamil… the list goes on and on.
Thank you for taking the time to visit Mrs B’s Book Reviews for Tea with Mrs B Gabrielle. Congratulations on the publication of Melody Trumpet!
As the daughter of global music superstars, Melody Trumpet was supposed to be extraordinary – a melodic genius to carry on the Trumpet legacy.
But, as was discovered when Melody screamed her first out-of-tune note as a baby, this wasn’t to be.
Ten years on, Melody is still kept away from the world in Trumpet Manor.
If only secrets could stay hidden …
For Melody Trumpet, it’s about finding the extraordinary in ordinary!
Melody Trumpet by Gabrielle Tozer was published on 29th January 2019 by Harper Collins Books Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
Connect with Gabrielle here: