Monday, July 02, 2007

Sneak preview of Fashionistas: Laura

I'm gearing up to the publication of Laura in a couple of weeks. It's worth reminding you that this is its UK release. French, German and Dutch editions will follow, but there's no US release date as yet. I've been getting comments from people who've already seen copies on sale. As far as I can understand, this is because bookshops receive delivery early but some of them break the publication embargo and shove them on shelves as soon as possible.

Anyway for those of you still without a copy, I thought I'd post a taster of what you'll be getting from the story of an uppity, up and coming model who has a lot to lose if she's ever going to make it in the high-faluting fashion world.


The studio lights were hotter than a heatwave in the Sahara Desert. Despite the industrial strength quantities of powder, Laura was sure that she was starting to sweat. Beside her, she could feel Nemi shaking. Her hand squeezed Laura's tightly, even though last week she'd been caught on camera calling her "a fat cow." Nemi didn't deserve to win. Nemi wasn't going to win. She had bulgy eyes, weird thread veins on her legs and, worst of all, she was a shrieking drama queen who thought that Europe was a country "somewhere near France, innit?"

Laura tried to concentrate as Daisy Bloom, ex-supermodel, now shiny-haired TV presenter went into her final spiel of the night. "The judges have deliberated, the public have voted and soon I'll reveal the winner of Make Me A Model 2007. But first let me remind you of the prizes the lucky girl will receive: A contract with international model agency, Fierce Management, a cover shoot with Skirt magazine shot by renowned photographer, Gerry Valandrey and an exclusive contract with Sparkle Comsetics worth £100,000…blah blah, for the love of God, blah blah…"

It was too bright to see the audience as anything other than a vague blur of faces, but Laura knew her Mum and Dad would be in their usual place at the left end of the third row, Tom sitting behind them. His face would be a conflicting mess of emotions from embarrassment that he was live on ITV, to pride that he had such a gorgeous girlfriend. Aw, poor conflicted baby.

Time had become just a relative concept. Laura was standing right on the edge of her new life and it was starting to feel a lot like being trapped in purgatory, eternally condemned to wish that Daisy would just quit amping up the tension even though the studio manager was holding up a card, which read, "SPIN IT OUT FOR ANOTHER 30 SECS." Also, she really needed to pee and the tape, which was holding her dress together was itching.

"Good luck," Laura whispered to Nemi, who squeezed her hand even tighter. What she really meant was, "Good luck when you find yourself asking your customers if they'd like to supersize their fries, beeyatch."

"So I have two beautiful girls standing in front of me," Daisy husked, gliding towards the two girls. Laura's face was shifting into a frozen grin, her lips sliding over dry teeth because all her saliva supplies had been directed down toward her bladder. "Stop thinking about peeing", she told herself sternly.

Daisy paused yet again for dramatic emphasis. It was verging on excruciating. "But I only have one photograph in my hand. One of these girls is undeniably beautiful but that's only one small part of being a model. We want to see if the beauty is on the inside too. Week after week, we've watched Nemi rock the cameras but we've seen an ugly side to you at the judging panel. The public love your look, Nemi, but is it enough?"

Nemi seemed to think it was because she was crying on cue like she did every week. A single crystalline tear gently rolled down her caramel smooth cheek telegenically but not enough to smudge her make-up.

"But the public also love you, Laura. You haven't had a single bad shot in this competition but we also got to see your beauty of spirit, your quirky sense of humour and even when you fell over during the final runway test, you made it work to your advantage. But is your spark enough in the cut-throat world of modelling or will it just burn out too quickly?"

Laura was tempted to scream at the top of her lungs, "Just announce the fricking winner!" But common sense prevailed at the last moment. It was taking all her last vestiges of strength to make her eyes Bambi-big so she wouldn't start crying. God, she wanted this more than anything. She wanted it so much that she could taste it and it tasted exactly like the world's biggest chocolate fudge sundae with extra sprinkles.

Daisy stood there for another five seconds. She'd told Laura off-camera that she counted in her head "one elephant, two elephant, three elephant…" so she got the timing exactly right. Finally, she drew herself up to her full 5 feet, 11 inches and tossed back her platinum blonde curls, which netted her £1 million a year in shampoo commercials. Then she drew the photograph out from behind her back.

Laura squinted at it. For one deliciously, dreadful moment she thought it was Nemi. She shut her eyes and opened them again. Had it been Nemi? It didn't look like Nemi. It looked like her in that last ridiculous shoot, where they'd had to dress up as sea creatures. Laura had been a dolphin. That grey satin dress really had done her no favours and as for…

"Congratulations, Laura, we're going to make you a model," Daisy was saying, but her words were drowned out by Nemi noisily bursting into tears.

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