I’m so excited to be part of the blog tour for UKYA debut author Holly Smale! Hope you all enjoy my interview with Holly on her time in the modelling world and her best advice for aspiring young models. Also, to celebrate its release today, there’s also a giveaway for a signed paperback of the book and a ‘geeky’ goody-bag, courtesy of Harper Collins, so keep reading for your chance to win!
About GEEK GIRL
Release: 28 February 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books
Harriet Manners knows a lot of things.
She knows that a cat has 32 muscles in each ear, a “jiffy” lasts 1/100th of a second, and the average person laughs 15 times per day. What she isn’t quite so sure about is why nobody at school seems to like her very much. So when she’s spotted by a top model agent, Harriet grabs the chance to reinvent herself. Even if it means stealing her Best Friend’s dream, incurring the wrath of her arch enemy Alexa, and repeatedly humiliating herself in front of the impossibly handsome supermodel Nick. Even if it means lying to the people she loves.
As Harriet veers from one couture disaster to the next with the help of her overly enthusiastic father and her uber-geeky stalker, Toby, she begins to realise that the world of fashion doesn’t seem to like her any more than the real world did.
And as her old life starts to fall apart, the question is: will Harriet be able to transform herself before she ruins everything?
Available now in paperback and e-book formats (RRP £6.99).
Interview with Holly Smale
First of all, I absolutely loved the book, so I’m honoured to be a part of the blog tour! I wanted to start off by asking what about modelling in particular inspired you to write Geek Girl?
Thank you! I’m delighted to be here! I think I was inspired by how ridiculously out of place I was as a model. I was too geeky for school: the uber-cool fashion industry had no idea what to do with me, or I it. I spent two years in a constant state of bewilderment; I’d do my maths homework on photoshoots and fall over and ask stupid questions and flush red constantly and break things. I think natural comedy comes from juxtaposition, and there’s no greater contrast than a lonely, shy, badly dressed little geek – which I absolutely was – trying to “make it” in the world’s most confident, popular, stylish industry. When I realised that I essentially had a modern Ugly Duckling fairytale on my hands – and a potentially funny one – it was suddenly a story I knew I could have a lot of fun telling.
I understand as a former model, you must have gone through what the main character in the book, Harriet did! What was the best thing about being a model? The worst?
There were so many great things about modelling: every single shoot was totally different, and it was incredibly exciting and unpredictable. I got to meet some really fun, creative people, and I learnt how to “do makeup” by annoying a LOT of makeup artists. I don’t think I’ve changed it since.
The hardest thing was how cut-throat it could be. I’d walk into a casting or “Go-See” and a photographer or designer would tell me precisely what was wrong with my body, or why they didn’t like my face, or my hair, or my skin: they’d briskly point out how much they hated the shape of my nose, or the angle of my eyes, or the fatness of my cheeks. It’s a competitive industry, and other models can be quite catty. Some of them are lovely, and others… ahem. Aren’t.
I gave Harriet a very easy time in GEEK GIRL. All I’ll say is: as the series progresses, she might not be as lucky.
What was your favourite experience as a model?
My favourite experience at the time was a job I did for Benetton. All I had to do was wander around the penthouse of an incredibly expensive hotel wearing their new collection so that journalists could see them ‘in action’. My only responsibility was to change outfits every half hour and stay where everybody could see me. In hindsight I was probably supposed to be posing and strutting and networking etc, but I was a fifteen year old schoolgirl so all I did was eat all of the salmon canapes, turn the taps on and off in the bathroom and watch the telly on a big white leather sofa. I thought it was the best job ever, but unsurprisingly they never asked me to do it again.
I loved the secondary characters Wilbur and Yuka Ito (especially the whack-a-doodle pet names)! Are they based on actual people you knew in the modelling world?
Thank you! Yes and no. Wilbur and Yuka are totally fictional: the only character I can categorically say is based entirely on a real person is Richard, who is very similar to my dad. However, I guess Wilbur and Yuka are based on a rough amalgamation of people I met in the industry, as well as people I’ve met since I stopped modelling: I’ve been lucky enough to meet a lot of interesting people over the last few decades. I think when you’re writing fiction, a lot of times characters will be such a blend of real people and imagined people, it’s difficult to tell where they originated.
I’m a fashion fan and I’m pretty obsessed with clothes. What’s the coolest thing you got to wear as a model?
I had a few favourites actually: I wasn’t really into fashion when I was fifteen, but some of the clothes I wore were so amazing I even asked if I could keep them at the time (the answer was always a lot of laughter). There was an absolutely beautiful beige, full-length cashmere Prada coat I totally fell in love with – I still think about it sometimes – and a matching purple Gucci handbag and velvet shoes. There was also this amazing blue vintage Victorian dress I got squeezed in to for one shoot (it had a ridiculous 23 inch waist and I couldn’t breathe or move), but I never got photos of it. I’m still so sad about that: there’s no chance of me ever fitting into something like that again!
Finally, what advice would you give to any young girls out there that want to be models?
Try as hard as you can not to take feedback or criticism to heart. Easier said than done – I know, believe me – but remember that an agency, photographer or designer normally know exactly what they’re looking for, and just because you’re not quite right for it doesn’t mean you’re not pretty enough: it just means you don’t tick exactly the right boxes. If you get signed, the same applies: one photographer might not like your nose or eyes while another absolutely loves them. Beauty is totally subjective, and that’s a good thing.
Make sure that – whatever the outcome is – you have fun. If I could go back and change anything, it would be that: I was so scared and sure everybody had made a mistake, I never really relaxed or let myself enjoy it properly. If it’s not fun, frankly there are better ways to spend your precious teen holidays and weekends.
Finally, always, always, always put school first. A good agency will make sure you have time to do your homework, and the shelf-life of a model isn’t usually very long. I was lucky in one way because I was a geek who loved school-work, but even if you hate it make sure you don’t get too distracted. Unless you’re very, very lucky, when the modelling’s over you’re going to need something else to fall back on.
Thanks Holly, it’s been wonderful interviewing you and finding out more about the modelling industry!
About HOLLY SMALE:
Find Holly on:
Holly Smale is a debut author. Clumsy, a bit nerdy and somewhat shy, she spent the majority of her teenage years hiding in the changing room toilets at school, attempting to avoid the abuse of her peers. After a top London modelling agency unexpectedly spotted her at the age of fifteen, she believed her luck was changing but in reality she couldn’t let go of her inner geek. She spent the following two years falling over on catwalks, going bright red at inappropriate moments and damaging things she couldn’t afford to replace. By the time Holly had graduated from Bristol University with a BA in English Literature and an MA in Shakespeare she had given up modelling and set herself on the much more suitable path to becoming a writer. In 2009, she very nearly found herself as a caretaker on an Australian paradise island, when she was a finalist out of 70,000 entries for the widely covered competition, “Best job in the world.”
Her hugely successful blog ‘The Write Girl’ had readers in over 24 countries, and Geek Girl is already lined up to be translated into eight languages, making her a worldwide phenomenon before the book is even published. Now a fully fledged author, Holly is currently writing the sequel to Geek Girl.
I was super lucky to meet Holly at a blogger party last week, and Harper Collins kindly donated a signed book and geeky goody bag for me to give away! I also have 3 super cute geek buttons to giveaway as well as runner-up prizes. This is open internationally so please enter and spread the word for your chance to win this fab book!