An interview with Models undercover author Carina Axelsson

So last summer I interviewed Carina after I got hooked on her detective turned model series, so I thought I’d share it here.

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 there 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 the deadline and reaches for a cup of tea*

8) Do you ever use a 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 a 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) The 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 the desk and sees four dogs*

24) Tea or Coffee person? With cake? Mug or teacup?

Tea always. Cake or biscuits are indispensable. 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!


An interview with beauty blogger Shona Louise

interview with beauty blogger, Shona Louise

Good morning! Last July I interviewed Shona Louise, a beauty blogger, an LGBTQ advocate and disability advocate. 

1)Why and when did you decide to start blogging? 

2) What was your first post?

3) What is your most popular post?

4) Meaning behind your blog name?

5) 5 things you wish you knew before you started?

6) What’s in your to be edited pile? 

7) Tea or coffee?

8) Audrey or Marylin?

9) Fave song at the moment?

10) What have you been reading lately?

11) Fave makeup brand?

12) Do you advocate LGBTQ and disability?

13) What’s your hobby aside from blogging?

14) Do your family understand that blogging is a proper job?

15) Cosmo or Vogue?

16) Apple or Android?

17) Do you use any scheduling apps?

18) Who’s your favourite blogger?

19) Advice to new bloggers?

Below are her answers in bold: 

1) I started blogging nearly 6 years ago in 2011, I was at school at the time and was pretty isolated. I discovered the youtube community first and had a go at filming videos myself but once I’d discovered blogging I knew that was the creative outlet for me. The community offered my friendship and an escape and I’ve never looked back since.

2) My first post was a pretty standard and short introductory post, I’ve deleted a lot of my early posts now as they are really quite cringey but I decided to keep my very first one as it marks the start of the best thing that ever happened to me.

3) My most popular post is my 4 years of blogging anniversary post, which includes a giveaway so that’s why it’s so popular. My ‘true’ most popular post, one that isn’t a giveaway, is a post called ‘5 Things That Marfan Syndrome Has Taught Me’. Marfan Syndrome is a genetic condition that I’ve had all my life and in the past few years it’s affected me quite severely, leaving me in a powerchair, but I really wanted to document some of the good that has come out of having the condition and the life lessons it’s taught me, I couldn’t believe the reaction it got when I posted it.

4) My blog name is simply my first name and my middle name, it used to be ‘freshbeautyxox’ which is so incredibly embarrassing. I changed it just over 3 years ago when I bought my domain and I’m so glad I did!


1. I wish I knew that I would have been a lot better off writing about what I wanted from the start, instead of writing about what I thought was popular.

2. I really wish I knew how to take decent photos but I suppose we all start somewhere.

3. I wish I knew how to interact with brands and companies, understanding that I don’t need to say yes to every opportunity that comes my way.

4. I wish I knew from the beginning how much I would learn to adore blogging and how big a part it would become in my life so that I could put in more effort from the start.

5. I wish I knew that one day I would become proud of being a blogger, instead of hiding it out of fear of being teased.

7) Neither, I’m not really a huge fan of hot drinks, water or juice for me.

10) At the moment I’m making my way through Becoming by Laura Jane Williams, it’s been on my to-read pile for a while and finally, I’m getting around to reading it.

12) For years now I’ve advocated for disability rights, raising awareness of everything from ableism to accessibility issues but in the past year I’ve definitely taken things up a level, giving disability a bigger space on my blog. As for LGBT+ rights, it’s only been in the past few years that I’ve figured out that I’m bisexual/queer so I’m still learning and becoming part of that community. I’d really love to become more active in the LGBT+ community though.

13) Blogging is my one and only main hobby. My disability means I’m in pain all day, every day and I’m also constantly tired so I don’t have the energy to give to loads of different hobbies so instead I put all of my energy in my blog.

14) For me, blogging isn’t a job. I rarely get paid for doing this and I simply do it because I love it. Unfortunately, even if I wanted to turn it into a job I couldn’t because of my disability, it’s difficult to manage with it just being a hobby so I don’t think I could cope with it as a full-time job.

17) I sometimes use Hootsuite but because I don’t work, I’m at home all day every day so I have the time to tweet as and when I feel like a post needs promoting. 

19) My advice to new bloggers is taking your time, don’t feel like you need to be at the level of the top bloggers within 5 minutes. Work hard, enjoy what you do and talk about things that inspire and motivate you.

Here’s where you can find here:

UK Disability, Lifestyle and Beauty Blogger

Marfan Syndrome Advocate

@shonalouiseblog (Twitter)

The Fashion expert: An interview with Zahra Parry

Hi Z, so what made you want to be fashion blogger and makeup artist? I realised I wanted to be a make-up artist when I applied for an assistant MUA role for a short film, I’d always had an interest in make-up and was obsessed with putting it on myself, so I decided to apply and I worked under a professional for a week, I loved the craft of it and even more so the creative environment of being on set. Fashion blogging is somewhat new to me, I just found I was getting a lot of questions about where I got my clothes and getting a lot of compliments over the years on my style. So I’ve just started posting #ootd’s on Instagram at the moment but eventually, I’d like to start blogging about fashion tips and make fashion hauls.

What’s your top five beauty products? 1. Revlon colour stay foundation, this is my day to day foundation and It’s amazing because it’s affordable, full coverage and durable! 2. Mac strobe cream– I love this as a primer before foundation it gives you a dewy finish and makes your skin glow! 3. Urban decay all nighter setting spray– this is a lifesaver, by far the most effective of setting sprays! 4. Becca cosmetics champagne pop highlighter– I have no words because it’s so beautiful, natural looking highlighter that really accentuates the high-points of your face. 5. mac studio fix pressed powder– essential on set! male or female, this powder is perfect for taking out the shine or giving the the cast a flawless finish on screen.

Where do you mainly get your clothes from? I previously worked for Topshop, most of of-of my clothes are from there because of the cheeky discount, but I also love Zara and H&M.

What’s your favourite fashion trend for autumn? I love love LOVE the check pieces coming through this autumn, it screams clueless and that’s one of my favourite films!

5) Makeup/style inspirations? Style inspo is really hard because my style changes with every season but I would say probably Olivia Palermo for A/W, Vanessa Hudgens for S/S. Makeup inspo would have to be some of the looks created by @makeupbyariel on Shay Mitchell, and @makeupbymario on Kim Kardashian.

what’s your worst fashion disaster? I’ve had so many, mainly because I’m so clumsy! The worst would have to be when I wore a leather skirt and fishnets to Radio1’s Big Weekend back in north Wales, trying to achieve that rocky/festival look I had thought that a leather skirt was a great idea for a day of 30 degrees heat I chafed so much my legs started bleeding and I had to go home and miss RIHANNA!

what’s the worst makeup trend? Contour, I feel strongly that contour is something you should only apply if really needed or in a drag show.

what’s your dream job? I’m still not sure, I just KNOW that I’m

supposed to be in television and media. I’m one of those people who wants to be good at everything so I have a choice!

favourite fashion magazine? Back in the day, I used to read LOOK magazine weekly! Now I don’t read most magazines because the content is so extremely focused on women’s physical appearance and celebrity sex lives and scandals that it’s so uninteresting to me. I watch a lot of vloggers and read blogs instead

contouring yay or nay? Yay on Drag queens, Nay otherwise.

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