Ali Rowbottom curled up on a Chesterfield-style sofa with Butter and Jamie, her two French bulldogs, curled up at her feet.
“My husband and I are now in New York for the books, and they come with us wherever we go,” she says, raising her from a family member’s home in the city.
A regal-looking oil painting hangs in the background, and Rowbottom dons a comfy NBA hoodie, taking a much-needed slow day from the relentless promotion of his debut novel.
Usually the author is in Los Angeles, where his book. Aesthetics, is defined. It follows Anna Rae, the pinnacle Instagram influencer of the 2017 era. She indulges in cosmetic surgery as a way to increase her reach and, delusionally, understand who she is.
Fifteen years later, Anna decides to undergo another, more dangerous operation. |:“esthetics” that promises to turn around every procedure he performs. In this universe, Instagram has reached its logical conclusion as a platform full of voids, holier-than-thou posts, and empty personalities (sound familiar?). Now Anna has to reckon with herself without surgeon-sculpted cheekbones when concepts |:“ourselves” are more pregnant than ever.
Since its release last month, Aesthetics became the internet’s favorite hot novel. Caroline Calloway, the Insta-celebrity to rule them all, called it. |:“the best influencer novel I’ve ever read’ – and Rowbottom was quite the whirlwind.
“It’s so hard to appreciate what’s going on when you’re in it,” he says. |:“I guess this is common, but I was feeling a little hurt by all the press and wasn’t sure what to do next. The best way was to go to bookstores and interact with the people there. I really fought for Aesthetics from the start – it was a tough sell at every turn. To see how people are engaging with it now is so exciting.”
At the time of writing Aesthetics, Rowbottom experimented with her own Instagram in an attempt to grow her following and change how she presents herself on the platform. While he’s well aware that his book grapples with dark themes, Rowbottom insists it’s not necessarily a rallying cry against social media as a whole.
“My approach to Instagram is quite neutral,” he continues. |:“It’s more than that our approach to it that is challenging. The internet in general tends to breed hate, but maybe that’s just human nature that we see reflected back at us.”
If: Aesthetics made into a movie or TV show (fingers crossed), who will play Anna? |:“Chloe Cherry,” Rowbottom replies. Naturally.
It’s all well and good to write a novel about the Internet, but what are Rowbottom’s own online habits? Keep scrolling to find out and click here to purchase a copy.