Carina is the author of the series Models Undercover and this was an interview when she granted me last summer when I was reading the series. Her protagonist Axelle is a modern day Nancy Drew. The series is filled with Fashion, Romance and Crime all set against the backdrop of the cut throat modelling industry.
1. So I’m 3/4 my way through book 1 so no spoilers please! What inspired you to write the book?
My fashion experiences! (I worked as a fashion model for many years before I became an author.) And my love of mysteries! Frankly, the thought did often cross my mind, on those days when I was modelling in a studio all day, that the enclosed space of a fashion photography studio, coupled with the outsized personalities of the usual fashion shoot crew, could lead to the perfect crime. Not that I was wishing someone would keel over and die whilst on set! But I’d read so many Agatha Christie mysteries as a teen that I couldn’t help but think that a fashion shoot was the perfect setting for a crime.
2. Is their any part of axelle in you?
I wish! I always say Axelle is the clever, focused, fast-thinking, risk-taking me I’d like to be.
3. What was it like working in the fashion industry?
Fun, interesting, draining, colourful, relentless, and inspiring. The downside: I’m a homebody so all the travelling didn’t particularly suit me. The upside: I had oodles of downtime during which I could read!
4. When did you decide to write a book?
As soon as I could write. I must have been about seven, I think. As a child I kept starting books, but never managed to get past about page five. I still struggle with that today, actually!
5) how do you do your research?
I LOVE doing research! *glances at moodboard and looks at pictures of current research subjects* And my favourite way of doing it is to experience it. So, if, for example, Axelle is chasing someone through an abandoned building, I’ll find an abandoned building in the city the scene takes place in and spend some time exploring it. In book 4 Axelle goes to Milan and climbs onto the roof of the Duomo cathedral, and she eats lots of pizza. Needless to say, I had to do both! I also do mega amounts of reading when I’m researching a person, place or subject. As far as I’m concerned, research is the perfect excuse to buy more books or book a trip.
6) Do you like to use pen and paper or keyboard,
Pencil and paper for notes, computer for writing.
7) are you a night writer or early bird?
Early bird by nature, but morning, afternoon, and night writer when a deadline is looming. *gets panicky just thinking about deadline and reaches for cup of tea*
8) Do you ever use playlist to get you in the mood to write certain scenes?
No. At times I might have a particular song in mind to inspire a certain scene or mood, but I’ll only let it play silently in my mind when I’m actually writing. And if I hear a song I think fits a scene or character I might play it more than usual when I’m away from my desk (like when I’m cooking), but, honestly, I need silence to write. I find music too distracting (because I like it too much!).
9) Does your Pinterest inspire you?
YES!!! I love Pinterest and always tell young writers that if they don’t have enough space in their bedroom to hang a moodboard, then they should use Pinterest. Whenever I start thinking about a new book I immediately create a secret Pinterest board for it and start pinning any relevant images that catch my eye. It helps me focus.
10) What was your favourite subject at school.
English, art, and history. That’s three but it was a tie!
11) Axelle is like an updated Nancy Drew – was that your aim?
Yes. As a young reader I was very inspired by Nancy and her adventures, but nevertheless I also very much wanted to read about a young girl detective in the here and now, someone I could more easily relate to. So Axelle is definitely my answer to that yearning.
12) Have you travelled to where all your books are set?
You bet! *leans back in writing chair and gets distracted thinking about all of the beautiful cities in the series* I worked as a model in all of them for many years and lived in two of them – Paris (book 1) and New York City (book 2) – for a long time.
13) Aunt Venita is a bit like Devil wears prada – was that intentional?
Good question…but no! Aunt Venetia is inspired by real editors I’ve worked with – not that any of them were half as devilish as she is. But editors do often seem to be of a certain type…a type that’s easy to play up and have fun with – as I did writing about Aunt Venetia.
14) Who was your favourite author growing up?
*Eyes widen because there were so many* Any list of mine would have to include, but not be limited to, the following fabulous authors: Beatrix Potter, Jean de Brunhoff, Astrid Lindgren, Marguerite Henry, Walter Farley, Richard Scarry, C.W. Anderson, Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen, Edith Wharton, Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Daphne du Maurier…the list goes on and on, so I’ll stop here.
15) Who do you read now?
All of the above plus too many others to list them comprehensively here. I love 19th and 20th century European literature, especially all the usual English and French suspects: Wilkie Collins, Jane Austen, George Elliot (Middlemarch is one of my all time faves!), Proust, Flaubert, Colette, Anthony Trollope, Thackeray, Eudora Welty, Alice Munro, Anita Brookner, Dodie Smith, Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, F.H. Burnett, Virginia Woolf, Vita Sackville West. There are so many to choose from and, fortunately, the list of inspiring literature is a very, very rich and long one.
16) Why do I sense Sebastian is A’s love interest?
You said no spoilers!
17) Are you an armchair detective?
Absolutely. But I kind of have the sneaking suspicion that at heart we all are…
18) Do you ever get ideas for characters from top model?
I’ve never watched it. I lived the real thing for too long to want to watch a television substitute!
19) If you could be invisible for a day what would you do?
It would be a great way to write because no one could find me and disturb me!
20) Idea of a perfect rainy Sunday?
Reading or writing with a cup of tea at hand, by the fireplace, after a walk with my dogs. Baking something like a cake or tart could add the finishing touch.
21) Winter or summer gal?
Winter! I enjoy watching the forest sleep and it’s easier to write in cool weather.
22) Is A’s mum based on yours?
How’d you guess???
23) Three things you could not live without?
Books, dogs, tea. *looks under desk and sees four dogs*
24) Tea or Coffee person? With cake? Mug or tea cup?
Tea always. Cake or biscuits are indispensible. Mug or cup depends on mood and choice of tea.
25) Any more Adventures for A on the cards/what are you working on?
The fourth book in the series, Dressed To Kill, has been published, and for the moment I’m working on a new series that is still a TOP SECRET project.
26) Describe your typical day?
I write in the mornings and do book stuff (finish writing whatever I meant to do in the morning, answer fan mail, do interviews, organize book tours or school visits, update my blog, etc.) in the afternoons. I take my dogs for long walks into the forest twice a day, regardless of the weather. I live in a large, old house so there is always a ton of house stuff to do, but if I don’t do it, who will? I fit it in as I can. I read. And I try to cook as often as I can because I find it relaxing!
27) Audrey Hepburn or Marylin Monroe?
28) Any hobbies?
Reading and drawing.
29) what’s the best thing about being a writer?
Having my characters come to life in published form and meeting my lovely readers!
30) Seen any Divas in the industry?
No. I’ve never met anyone working in the children’s books publishing world – be they fellow authors, or publishers, editors, whatever – who isn’t an unfailingly nice, funny, and friendly bookworm. I met plenty of divas in the fashion business though!