Ashleah Gonzales wearing a NY Yankees cap and a patterned jacket poses at night in a black and white...
Photo courtesy of Ashleah Gonzales

From The Magazine

Ashleah Gonzales Went From Giving Kendall Jenner Book Recs To Writing Her Own

Fake Piñata might soon be the next title the pair sell out.

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In the summer of 2019, paparazzi photos of Kendall Jenner carrying some of the internet’s favorite books went viral. It turned out that Jenner’s reading list — which included works by Melissa Broder, Eve Babitz, and Chelsea Hodson — was curated by her modeling agent, Ashleah Gonzales, a voracious reader with impeccable taste. What the photos didn’t show was that the 37-year-old from Phoenix, Arizona, was quietly working on a manuscript of her own, crafting poetry in her iPhone while on the go. With the May 21 arrival of Fake Piñata, Gonzales’ sweet and stinging collection published by Hodson’s Rose Books, the secret is finally out.

How did you start writing the collection?

I’ve loved writing poetry since I was 7 years old. It was a secret thing I did. A few of the poems in here I wrote in 2018 when I was writing for myself. When I met Chelsea Hodson, she was like, “Are you a writer?” And I was like, “Maybe.”

How do you write amidst a very busy life?

I’m definitely a Notes app girl, but I also love something tangible, so I have a notebook with me. As lame as it sounds, these things just come to me. I’ll be walking, think of a couple of lines, and write them in my Notes.

Can you talk about the title Fake Piñata?

I feel like a fake piñata myself. When you open the book, you’re cracking open a piñata and finding all these separate pieces of me that are all very different, but all belong to the same thing.

What was it like to get recognition for being a reader before being a writer?

I honestly don’t think of it too much because I truly love to read. I love the feelings books invoke in me and hope that somebody is also going to find that feeling. It was never more than enjoying these books and wanting to share them.

How did you start recommending books to Kendall to read?

Kendall and I travel a lot, so she would ask me what I was reading, or I would be like, “This book is amazing.” I would do a book haul for her birthday, and then she would read them over the year.

Were there any books you gave to her that she really liked?

I recently gave her Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking because she had never read anything by Joan, and we love Joan. It was a book that she really liked and stuck with her.

You’ve dealt with being indirectly in the public eye, but how does it feel to be publishing your own collection of work?

It almost feels exposing. I’ve never really been outwardly emotional or let people know too much about me. There is this sense of, “Oh my God, people are going to read my diary.” On the other hand, there’s a poem in the book that I wrote when I was 7. And if that girl found out I was doing a book right now... I mean, it’s my dream.