Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Gloss by Jennifer Oko

Cover Image

Beauty Myth or Fact Pop Quiz

A) GLOSS by Jennifer Oko is a sleek novel that will take you behind the gloss of morning TV, the lives of well-paid government speech writers, and the beauty industry.


B) Lip gloss will remove wine stains from Jimmy Choo shoes.

Oh, please, myth!

C) Jennifer Oko is "simply riveting" as stated by the New York Times. She writes "a quick, juicy read" as reported by the Boston-Globe and she is "sharp & fast paced" as reviewed by Publisher's Weekly.

Fact! Jennifer Oko is a riveting writer that writes a sharp, fast-paced and juicy read. Isn't that another reason to read GLOSS?

Who thought the world of fiction could be so fabulous & dangerous? Jennifer Oko has written a book that lies so close to the heart of big media that is easy to forget that her book is fiction. Her personal background and experience as a journalist & big media TV producer delivers to readers the sort of juicy details that only a network insider can provide. The characters in her book spring to life from the page and the story forces you to read it straight to the end. Want a quick smack of what GLOSS is all about? Good, pucker-up and read on!


It was a harmless human interest story for breakfast television—who
would've thought it would land her in jail?

New York producer Annabelle
Kapner's report on a beauty-industry job-creation plan for refugee
women in the Middle East earned her kudos from the viewers, her bosses,
even the network suits. But several threatening phone calls and
tight-lipped, edgy executives suggest the cosmetics program is covering
up more than just uneven skin.

All this intrigue is
seriously hampering Annabelle's fledgling romance with sexy
speechwriter Mark Thurber. Mark is handsome, funny and Washington's
Most Eligible Bachelor (the people at People said so). Being with him makes her gossip-column material overnight.

is just getting used to A-list treatment at Manhattan's hottest
nightspots when a fit of journalistic idealism—and a daring
Watergate-style raid—earns her a cozy spot on cell block six.

pen may be mightier than the sword, but the celebrity prisoner trumps
both. Annabelle starts a jailhouse crusade to expose the corruption
she's uncovered, and the media are eating it up. The paparazzi, the
pundits and every morning show in America all want a piece of her. But
it'll take more than a few thousand "Free Annabelle" T-shirts to clear
her name and win back her Beltway beau. Especially when she discovers
just how high up the scandal reaches—and how far the players will go to
keep their secret….

GLOSS isn't a book that easily slips into categories. It's chick lit, romance, mystery, satire, and more. At times, I felt like I was reading a Kafka novel or a story by the the French philosopher Voltaire (a few of my favorite writers).  Under the humor and the drama of GLOSS is a cautionary tale of modern life, but nothing stops this book from being an enjoyable and entertaining read!

Jennifer Oko is a modern woman that doesn't stop dreaming. She's a producer for CBS News The Early Show
since 2002, she worked at Inside Edition's
investigative unit, and she's aired many programs, including NBC Nightly News, A & E Investigative Reports, MSNBC Edgewise with John Hockenberry, and ABC's Good Morning America-Sunday.  A segment she worked on for GMA-Sunday won an Emmy Award in 1996 and her profile of Tina Turner won a White House News Photographers Association award in 2005.  She's been published in variety of magazines, including The New York Times Magazine, New York Magazine, Maxim, Allure, and Huffington Post.

The Interview

Modern Girl Style somehow managed to sidetrack Jennifer into a quick interview about writing, work, and her inspiration behind GLOSS!  

Moderngirllogomini 1.    GLOSS is a modern fable about the delicate balance between big business, politics, and media.  Your background as a producer, documentary filmmaker, and print journalist would seem to provide ample opportunity to be inspired to write GLOSS. Was there a particular moment or incident that triggered your need to write this book? If not, what inspired you to write this book?

Actually, the trigger for the story behind GLOSS was more about where I was in my life than anything else, although since my life was and is so seeped in media, I suppose there is a connection.

I started writing GLOSS right before my memoir LYING TOGETHER: MY RUSSIAN AFFAIR was to be released (LYING TOGETHER is about a year I spent working as a journalist in Russia and how the
relationship I was in and the country I was covering both spiraled out
of control at the same time). I had also just gotten married and between that and gearing up for the release of the book, it was a pretty heady time. 

Right after our wedding, we were living in Hanoi, Vietnam

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while my husband worked a summer job (I had taken a short leave of absence from CBS News), and it since it was too hot to go outside in the morning (one day my thermometer read 109 degrees), I decided to sit at our kitchen table and see if I could write something that would be fun, entertaining…and not emotionally draining, which writing LYING TOGETHER certainly was. And while there was no particular news event that got me going, after more than a decade working in television news, I certainly had enough fodder to inspire me! I surprised myself to find how quickly the writing took off and how much I enjoyed it. By the end of a couple of weeks, I already had about 100 fairly polished pages.

As the story progressed, I was at no loss for more inspiration. The Judith Miller/Plamegate case was heating up, the Jason Blair scandal was fresh in our memory, the executive branch of our government had run amuck, etc, etc. It makes me think that it must be a walk in the park to work for a program like The Daily Show, there is just so much inspirational insanity going on, both in government and in the media.

Moderngirllogomini 2.    Annabelle Kapner almost falls for Washington D.C.’s Hottest Bachelor, Mark Thurber. However, she pulls back to wonder if it’s all just an image he’s projecting. Do you have any advice for woman that think they’ve found Mr. Right on the first date?

Ha! I would advise her to consider that she is probably wrong!

Moderngirllogomini 3.    Now that your satire on media has published, have you found it difficult to promote your book?

I’ve given birth to two children and published two books, so I can say with good authority that book PR is harder than childbirth, regardless of the subject. That said, with GLOSS, what attention I have gotten has been fantastic. It was a USA Today “hot summer reads", a Marie Claire “pick of the month” and loads of online reviewers have been saying the nicest things. The media loves to talk about itself, so I did get some good buzz on some industry sites like tvnewser.com and radaronline.com.

Even with all that, the book business is insanely difficult. I mean, think about what it takes for you, an avid reader, to actually buy a book— how many reviews and recommendations it takes for you to log on to amazon or go to your local bookstore and actually pay for a hardcover—and imagine then what it takes to sell one (if you aren’t writing about wizards, that is).  I recently read a funny anecdote on some blog somewhere that went something like this: Two writers are sitting at their computers, typing away. The scene seems to be identical in every way, except that one writer is in heaven and one writer is in hell. How can you tell which is which? The writer in hell has been published.

Moderngirllogomini 4.    When you sold GLOSS based on the first hundred pages & a book outline, you landed a two-book deal.  As a current CBS producer, mother of two children, and author, how will you balance your workload?

Well, for starters, let me just say that my next book is a comic novel about psycho-pharmaceuticals.

Beyond that, I find the insane constraints on my time actually help me as a writer. I can’t be as much of a procrastinator or a perfectionist (yes, you can be both) as I used to be in terms of my writing; I have to force myself to focus very hard and be efficient with the time I have. And it helps to have a husband who is willing to put up with my playing a disappearing act from time to time. 

Moderngirllogomini 5.    Can you give Modern Girl Style an insider’s peek into your second novel & briefly talk about your writing process?

I was serious about the psycho-pharmaceuticals. The book is tentatively called “Thank You, Eli Lilly,” but beyond that I am afraid to say what it’s about and post that on the internet, at least not until I make more progress. Progress has been slow. I’ve been a little distracted lately, what with the birthing of the baby and all, but the book is due in June, so one of these days I need to get cracking.

Which brings me to your second part of the question. Normally, I work three days a week at a real job and then have two writing days, plus sporadic hours on evenings and weekends. On my writing days, my husband takes the kids to daycare (well, Laila is only seven weeks-old now, so she hasn’t started yet, but this is basically how it worked pre-Laila), I head off to a yoga class, come home, shower, eat, and then go to Starbucks for three hours.

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Then I come home, eat again (even though I have usually gobbled down a cookie or two—I always feel that I need to buy some goodies to justify my taking up table space for so long), and then maybe turn on my laptop for another hour or so before getting the kids. This, I should say, is an extremely idealized version of what really happens. It is what would happen if I were the me I’d like to be.

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More often, I plan to go to yoga, but get caught up in procrastinating and checking email and then the clock is ticking and I realize it is lunchtime and I haven’t written a word. And only then do I get my butt to Starbucks and focus for am hour or two before I have to go pick up the kids. I eat the cookies, regardless.

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I should add that I wish it were a lovely independent coffee house I was frequenting, but I don’t have one in my neighborhood. Cookies tend to be more tasty at independent coffee houses.

Moderngirllogomini Bonus Question!!!
Modern Girl Style has to ask…What is your favorite lip gloss?

Want to know a secret? I hate wearing lip gloss. I can’t keep it on. Especially if it’s flavored. I eat it all off within minutes.

Not enough, Want more? Jennifer delivers an awesome interview at MommyCast. Just take notes fast, because Jennifer Oko is flying off the hook with energy, wit, and style!

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