Category Archives: Gemma Burgess

On… some books for you

Here are some new discoveries for you. No particular theme. Some are old. Some are new. Some are read-in-three-nights. Some are dive-in-for-a-fortnight. All are interesting and life-enriching, in one way or another.

I’m not going to write reviews, because, ugh, book reviews, amirite? (Seriously, though. I never read my own book reviews back when I was an author. I always figured: well, if I read something mean, it’ll feed my insecurity and give me writer’s block and I’ll wail and gnash my teeth for hours and never get that time back. And if I read something positive and believe it, then I might become smug and stare out the window thinking how jolly clever I am. Either way, it’s not productive. Far better to just continue skipping through life, daydreaming stories to tell you, fueled only by my happy workaholic mix of all-consuming ambition and stomach-clenching fear of failure. I have a feeling I’ve said this before. Where was I? Oh yes. Books.)



Must You Go?  My Life With Harold Pinter by Antonia Fraser.


The Wives Of Henry VIII by Antonia Fraser.


Warrior Queens by Antonia Fraser.


The Weaker Vessel by Antonia Fraser.

(Yes, I was on a bit of an Antonia Fraser binge for a month.)


A Scandalous Life by Mary S Lovell.


How To Stop Time by Matt Haig.


Plus One by Christopher Moxon.


White Trash by Nancy Isenburg.


Leading Lady: Sherry Lansing by Stephen Galloway






















I sold a TV show to ABC.

It’s called MAVERICKS. It’s a soapy drama (sex! secrets! scandals!) set in the cut-throat world of New York City start-ups, with my uuuuuuuuuuuuuutterly delightful tone of voice (feminist! sharp! optimistic! i wish these were alliterative!).

I sold it in the room on a trip to LA about six weeks ago. I’ve never sold something literally in the room before – I usually find out a couple of anxious days after the pitch. Not this time: there I was in a windowless conference room in a big building on the Disney lot, with about nine people: the Mandeville producers (who had heard the pitch about nine times before this, maybe more), the ABC Studio executives (who had heard the pitch about four times, maybe more), and the ABC Network execs (who had never heard the pitch before, obvs). After I spoke for an excruciatingly long amount of time, and answered a couple of questions, Brian Morewitz, the head of drama at ABC, said: “We’d love to do it.” And my brain went zzzzzzzzzzzzzip like a record skipping, and everyone began smiling, and that was that.

So now I’m writing it.

I hope it’s good.

(Of COURSE it’s good.)

More soon. x

On… some new (old) songs

The Sweater Song – Weezer

(Fun fact: this video was shot with the band playing the song at twice the speed, then slowed down, so the end result is sort of funky and dreamy. Fun fact 2: this is one of Spike Jonze’s first music videos.)

Pepper – Butthole Surfers

Mother Mother – Tracy Bonham

Movies – Alien Ant Farm

Turning Japanese – Kirsten Dunst (!)

Nothin’ – NORE

Ramble On – Led Zeppelin

(Okay, there’s no video. But it’s still a great song.)

X Gon Give To Ya – DMX

California Sun – Ramones

Do You Wanna Dance – Ramones

Ugh. The Ramones are the best.


On… stupid ol’ sunshine

Sunshine makes me anxious.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a monster. I love vacations. I love that bursting tingly feeling when you dive into a cold swimming pool before breakfast. I love bobbing in the sea, staring up at the sky, for very long periods of time. I love pastel sunsets and matching cocktails. I love the whole thing. But when my vacation is over, I want hot weather to be over, too.

My antipathy for sunshine is now at the point where, on a rare grey NYC August day, I feel a delicious sense of relief, and I think to myself, oh I can’t wait for winter.

I hate squinting and sweating. I hate feeling that I should be outside ‘enjoying’ the sunshine when I want to be inside, writing or eating or talking or drinking or sleeping. I hate that my skin is always paper-dry from chlorine and excessive SPF. I hate hog-tying my tiny translucent red-headed children to douse them in excessive SPF, too. I hate that the air never feels crisp, unless you’re in air-con, and then it feels fake-crisp. I hate not being able to wear leather pants. And tweed jackets and fake fur and tight jeans and boots and dark lipstick. I hate getting into cars and enduring that thick, hot airlessness until the aircon kicks in. I hate not being able to wear my beloved eleven-year-old eyeglasses because I have to wear contacts because I have to wear sunglasses because of the SUN and I don’t have prescription sunglasses because who has the time because one day we’ll all be dead probably soon because a fascist madman is in charge and I hate wondering if this summer is the summer that will make me finally get Botox because my face officially turned into Miracle Max even though I really don’t want Botox and frowning is super fucking important to me SEE I HAVE ANXIETY ABOUT IT ALL.

But let’s not be self-indulgent!

The point is that I can’t control sunshine. I can’t control the seasons. The only part of any of this that I can do anything about right now is dry skin. And so can you. Even if you love summer. That means moisturizing so heavily and so frequently that you could sit on your bathroom floor tiles and slide around, pinging off the walls like a pinball for hours.

In order for moisturizer to work, you need to exfoliate first, get rid of the dry, dull old skin. Now: unless it is the most joyful part of your day and the only reason you get up in the morning, please don’t use a liquid or cream body exfoliator. It is literally money down the drain. (The exception is Bliss Hot Salt Scrub. It is patented magic and warms up and tingles on your epidermis in the most delightful way. It also has oily unguents that moisturize while you scrub. It’s soul-cheering to use in the bath when it’s snowing outside. But it is not snowing outside right now. It is sunny. Sigh.) Be French, and use a gant de toilette, or be Korean, and use a scratchy towel thing, with any old shower gel or soap. (I used to use almond oil, but then it kept spilling everywhere and really annoyed me, so I stopped.)


This is the Korean scratchy towel thing. Look how happy she is! That is a woman who knows the joy of soft skin.


After your morning shower, apply this lovely L’Occitane moisturizer to your whole entire body. It’s shea butter. (I assume shea butter is made with milk from some kind of really hydrated cow in the land of Shea, yes?)

Because it’s summer, you can dance around naked for a while while it soaks in. (Darn, I forgot that you can’t really dance around naked for long in winter. Maybe summer DOES have some positives. Hmm.)


On your face, apply some hyaluronic acid and wait a few minutes, then apply your SPF (or this one if you’re going swimming). I don’t know how hyaluronic acid works and I don’t care enough to get a chemistry degree and find out, but I believe scientists describe hyaluronic acid as “kind of like a turbo hydration watery nothing that is also EVERYTHING?” I’ve been using that insanely cheap Ordinaries one because well, it seems just as good as the others (though on the whole I have a ‘the fuck am I supposed to do with SQUALENE?’ reaction to The Ordinaries no-frills skin brand). Once your SPF soaks in, apply whatever make-up blows your skirt up today, and get out there and kick some ass. And walk on the shady side of the street.


Then at night, things get serious. Clean your face. Aderma Oat Milk Soap Free Soothing Cleansing Gel is my favorite right now. I have used it on-and-off for years. I get bored of it and flirt with other cleansers, but I always come back to it. It forgives me because it has low self-esteem. I dry my face with a tiny white cotton face towel that I only use once before throwing in the washing basket. I bought a stack of them a year or so ago because eh, something about bacteria. It makes me feel fantastically profligate. Which is so tragic.

Then shower and exfoliate again, you filthy animal.


Then apply a little Cerave SA Lotion to your whole body (but not your face). The salicylic acid helps with clogged sweaty pores, inflammation, blah blah ask a dermatologist or Allure if you need to know everything so much. As you stand there in your naked glory, waiting for the Cerave to soak in, you can contemplate the meaning of life and/or the relative symmetry of your boobs while smearing something unguenty all over your face.


This Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Overnight Hydrating Mask stuff is quite the little charmer. It’s a GIANT pot, and it’s pretty cheap. Gloop on a nice mask of it a couple of times a week and go to sleep. It feels sort of hot and sparky. You’ll know what I mean when you do it. You’ll wake with your skin all sticky and plump. Normally waking up sticky and plump would freak me the fuck out, but trust me, it’s a good thing.



Other nights, I use La Roche Posay Hydraphase Riche, which has replaced my beloved Korres – for the moment – as my moisturizer under dear old Yu-Be. I like to try new moisturizers now and again. It keeps my old favorites on their toes. Only Yu-Be is irreplaceable. It’s the salt of skin care: boring, but makes everything else better. Sometimes you don’t even know how much better it makes things until you go without for a while and then go back to it and say ‘SALT! Yes. I like you.’


THEN, because your Cerave stuff is all soaked in to your limbs by now, apply a layer of – yup – Yu-Be Body. It’s yellow and weird, like the face cream, but nothing else compares for moisturizing dryer-than-dry skin. Then go to bed. Unless you are tired and bored of everything. Then skip all of the above steps and go and have a drink with your best friends, watching a beautiful summer sunset, because that will make you feel better than any moisturizer ever could. I love sunset. (Darn, that’s TWO things I like about summer. Wait I also like sunrise. THREE. Three things that I like about summer. Okay, let’s just forget the whole thing.)







On… Friends From College

This show is making me laugh an unreasonable amount. It’s seriously clever and witty and relatable and so well-written and surprising and oh, just go watch it. Weirdly, the reviews are kind of scathing. I don’t understand why. It’s a dark, hilarious take on the dangers of nostalgia and the joys of those insanely close college friendships that nothing else can ever replace… Maybe the critics had an anti-elitist thing, because it’s about and by a bunch of Harvard graduates? I don’t know. Who cares. I liked it. If you liked The Big Chill and St Elmos Fire and Old School and all Richard Linklater movies and um I can’t think of any more right now, you’ll like this.

PS Also: the soundtrack is outstanding.

On… Instagram

I like Instagram. These are the random accounts that I follow just because they make me really, really happy. They are little gifts that keep on giving.


FullSizeRender-2 2 @hk_publictoilets - this one is self-explanatory, oui? I find it extremely comforting to see that the toilets of my home city have not really changed over the years.


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@laurakitty- a fashion historian who posts vintage magazine ads and delicious clips like this and this and this.

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@gianlucavacchi - I don’t quite know who this dude is, but from what I can figure out he’s a very buff, tattooed, 60-something millionaire gay Italian DJ socialite with 10 million followers (10 MILLION?). I could Google him and find out exactly who the hell he is and what he does, but I prefer to just enjoy him, and I am absolutely sure he prefers it, too. Watch this and delight in it with me.