Today Serena Yates joins us to share parts of her research and the inspiration behind her newest release from Dreamspinner Press, The Model! Serena is also generously giving three lucky commenters on this post their choice of an e-book of their choice from The Workplace Encounters series or a $5 Amazon/All Romance eBooks gift card! Be sure to comment by September 30th for your chance to win!
Real Talk About Modeling and the Inspiration Behind THE MODEL
Writing about types of different blue collar jobs for this series has been an exciting adventure for me. And while being a model might not be the first job you think of when hearing “blue collar”, it is one of the jobs that requires absolutely no education. You are either discovered and end up making a career of it, however long, or you are not. No amount of studying can make you a fashion model.
While this may sound easy, the lack of anything other than your looks as an entry requirement also makes it one of the most fleeting jobs around. As soon as your looks are gone – due to age, or an accident, or you gaining weight, or simply the “look” required by fashion designers and/or clients changing – you are out of a job. The pressure and the competition are brutal, and all the reports about eating disorders and emotional issues confirm that this is not an industry for everyone. Yes, it all looks glamorous, but the reality of being a successful or even a top model makes is that it’s a short-term job, not a lifelong occupation.
Some if the industry statistics (such as can be found here) are frightening. Close to 55% of models start working between the ages of 13 and 16, another 37% between 17 and 20. 52% of models report that their parents or guardians do not go with them to casting calls. I can’t even wrap my head around that one. How lonely must they feel? And the fact that 68% suffer form anxiety or depression, 64% have been asked to lose weight, 76% have been exposed to alcohol and/or drugs…. the list goes on. Considering the young age of the people we’re talking about, this is downright horrific.
With a background like that, I had to make sure that Fabio, the model in my books and one of the two main characters, at least reflected some of that background. Since I write romance, and he is an “older” model at twenty-eight, he has a different perspective. The fact that he has made it this long is a sign of his persistence, but as the story progresses, he is beginning to withdraw from a job that has made him good money for ten years. The opening scene of the book – where Fabio discovers his first wrinkle and basically panics – may sound exaggerated, but based on the research I did and the sorts of reports you see, in an industry that is solely focused on appearances and looks, any physical disadvantage like that really can spell The End.
Fabio is lucky in that he is prepared, at least mentally, for his job to end at some point, and he has an exit strategy. Emotionally it is still hard for him to accept that younger guys are taking jobs that were supposed to be his, and a few scenes in the book show the kind of issues he struggles with. Luckily for him he finds a happy ending – eventually – but it’s not an easy path fro him to travel.
I hope that I have managed to add some of the feeling of working in the fashion industry to this story, and leave you with an excerpt – said opening scene where Fabio discovers his first wrinkle.
“What the fuck?” Fabio Bonardi stared at his reflection in abject horror. It might have been a fairly low-quality hotel mirror and his eyes didn’t quite want to open yet, but even at five in the morning, he was awake enough to recognize a catastrophe when he saw it.
There, in the corner of his left eye, was unmistakable evidence he was getting old. Shit! Of all the things that could go wrong just before an early morning shoot, finding his first wrinkle was…. Hell, it wasn’t even on the damned list! He closed his eyes. Maybe this was a nightmare. Surely at twenty-eight, with the careful—not to say paranoid—way he took care of his skin, there was no way wrinkles would have a chance. Seconds later, not able to wait any longer despite his fear, he opened his eyes again. Damn! The thing hadn’t disappeared.
Fabio bent forward and stretched his skin, hoping it might magically spring back into its previous unwrinkled shape when he let go. Weren’t Mediterranean genes supposed to help you look younger? Apparently his luck had run out. The wrinkle was still there, and not even his otherwise blemish-free olive skin could hide it.
“Double fuck!” Fabio hit the marble basin with enough force for pain to race up his arm. “Ouch.” Talk about adding injury to insult. Or was that the other way around? He shook his head as he looked for his special moisturizer. It would have to do until Adair could work his magic. He was the best damned makeup artist in the whole business and almost reason enough to like coming to New York for a shoot. Almost.
Going through the motions of getting ready for a five-thirty pickup to the studio, Fabio let his mind wander. He’d always known this day would come. Taking care of the money he made, carefully investing it so it would be there once nobody wanted to hire him any longer, was second nature to him. He’d amassed a nice nest egg, and it looked as though it was time to use it to set Plan B into motion.
With a last admiring look at the figure he cut with his broad shoulders, narrow hips, and long legs, he left the hotel bathroom to get dressed in client-supplied underwear, blue jeans, and one of his oldest and most comfortable sweatshirts. Packing barely took five minutes because he only needed to make sure his stuff was in his carry-on, not think about what to take. He hated traveling with a lot of baggage, and he didn’t need a big wardrobe when he posed for fashion shoots all day, only to return to the hotel late at night for a quick salad before he dropped into bed.
The glamour of modeling? A total myth. Inexperienced guys might fall for it, but he’d been at this for ten years and knew better. Paris, Milan, and New York were good places to have on his resume, sure, but they weren’t any more fun on his sort of schedule than Timbuktu or Hicksville, Tennessee, might be. Not that he’d ever been to either of those places.
About Serena Yates:
I’m a night owl and start writing when everyone else in my time zone is asleep. I’ve loved reading all my life and spent most of my childhood with my nose buried in a book. Although I always wanted to be a writer, financial independence came first. Twenty-some years and a successful business career later I took some online writing classes and never looked back.
Living and working in seven countries has taught me that there’s more than one way to get things done. It has instilled tremendous respect for the many different cultures, beliefs, attitudes and preferences that exist on our planet.
I like exploring those differences in my stories, most of which happen to be romances. My characters have a tendency to want to do their own thing, so I often have to rein them back in. The one thing we all agree on is the desire for a happy ending.
I currently live in the United Kingdom, sharing my house with a vast collection of books. I like reading, traveling, spending time with my nieces and listening to classical music. I have a passion for science and learning new languages.