Friday, March 29, 2013

Author Spotlight: Fleur Gaskin & Arabelle's Shadows

**The idea has been around for far longer than I have been blogging, but it is a great opportunity to make a banner (meme style) and share some and coming authors, as well as their books, with you. Enjoy!**

Hey Guys!!

See that banner? Well you know what this means! I know, I haven't been the most active blogger *hangs head in shame* BUT I have a special treat. Penance? Today there's a special guest on Choice Reads, and that is author of Arabelle's Shadows: Fleur Gaskin! She has been kind enough to answer a few questions as well as leave an excerpt of her book, but before we get into the actual spotlight, here's a little heads up about both Fleur and Arabelle's Shadows.

Fleur Gaskin is from New Zealand. She was an international model for six years, working in over ten countries, mainly in Asia and Europe. She has been in TV commercials, walked on runways and appeared in many magazines including Elle, Marie Claire and Vogue. She presently lives in Shanghai, China with her fiancé.

Published: November 25th, 2012
Pages: 268

Goodreads Summary
Everything in Arabelle's life is coming together. She has confidence, great friends, she's even dating Naak, a wealthy Thai socialite. But there are too many models in Bangkok. Arabelle’s broke, she can’t find an agent in New York, and Naak isn’t as wonderful as he first appears. Slowly the Shadows creep back into Arabelle’s mind, bringing with them thoughts of hopelessness and despair. The vile Shadows know something Arabelle’s refusing to remember and, if she’s not careful, they’ll use it to destroy her. Based on a true story, Arabelle’s Shadows takes us on a journey through the struggles of growing up, not quite making it as an international model, and attempting to overcome a crushing depression.
Q: What inspired you to write, and when did you know that writing was a passion you wanted to pursue?

A: Even as a very small child I planned on becoming a writer. We were always surrounded by books in my house and I greedily gobbled them up. When I was twelve I announced to my teacher that I was going to write a novel and become the world’s youngest writer. Though the intentions were there, that book never even got started and then puberty arrived and I forgot all about writing. Then in 2002, I was modelling in Paris when I read Wuthering Heights. The book resonated with me and I thought, I want to tell stories like that, I want to make others feel all the emotions I had just felt and instantly the plots of two novels popped into my head.

Q: If there is one thing that motivates you the most, what is it?

A: Injustice. I know that people call me idealistic but I don’t care. I want the world to become a fairer, more balanced place. Seeing other people’s suffering destroys me and I will not rest until I have found a way to bring more love into the world. I am hoping that Arabelle’s Shadows will be the beginning of this journey.

Q: Why should readers be interested in reading Arabelle's Shadows?

A: Everyone knows someone with depression and everyone has their own vile Shadows, their own insecurities and fears that hold them back from truly living. Arabelle’s Shadows gives us an idea of how to control those Shadows. It also gives us an understanding of other people’s Shadows and hopefully it will help them forgive. Arabelle’s Shadows has lots of travel in it, you can experience what it’s like to live in Bangkok, Hong Kong or Milan. Go on an emotional journey with Arabelle full of highs and lows and lots of hope

Q: Which writers do you look to for inspiration and why? 

A: The writer who I am in awe of is Harper Lee. To Kill a Mockingbird hit me in the core of my soul. I am amazed by Margaret Atwood, her plot and storytelling skills are incredible. John Marsden, the writer of the Tomorrow when the War Began series, is the author who I would like to follow in the footsteps of, his novels speak teenage truth. J.K Rowling is a genius and I simply love to know that an author like that exists in the world.

Q: What role does happiness play in your life, and why is it such a key factor in Arabelle's Shadows?

Human beings spend so much of their valuable time on Earth worrying about things that really aren’t that important. Why would you spend 80 hours a week working to earn money you have no time to enjoy? In comparison with the majority of the world I was born into great fortune. I had a house, I was never hungry, I went to great schools, politically I could say whatever I wanted and yet, I was not happy.

 I have learned in my life that the only way to be happy is to choose to be happy. That happiness comes from friendship, family and love, not from wealth, beauty or skinniness. All Arabelle ever wanted was to be happy. In Arabelle’s Shadows she travels around the world, learning about different faiths, different cultures, trying to piece the puzzle together. Here’s a hint if you want to be happy – Love yourself, just the way you are.

Q: Your novel tackles issues relating to the fashion industry, can you speak of how personal experiences helped shape this book?

A: By the time I started writing Arabelle’s Shadows I was so fed up with the modelling industry. Models are lowest on the totem pole of the fashion industry. Designers, clients, photographers, stylists and often makeup artists are all above us. We are poked and prodded and analysed like a piece of merchandise, not like a person. Our agencies (the people who are supposed to have our back) see us as money making machines and are rarely honest with us.

When I first started modelling I was told I needed to move to Auckland, so I did. I was told I shouldn’t work during the day in case I had castings. I didn’t have castings and because I wasn’t working, I didn’t have money either. The agency kept on telling me to keep waiting, that things would pick up soon. Now I realise that I was one of a hundred girls they had signed, they didn’t care if I personally was working so long as some of their models were.

 In Arabelle’s Shadows I tried to give an honest account of what modelling is like for the majority of models. There are some great times and great experiences that come with modelling, but I wouldn’t recommend it to any of my friends.

Q: What message do you hope your readers leave with?

A: To fight to be happy. You can change your dreams but never give up.

Thanks Fleur! I love that this author is writing from personal experiences, she has been such an open and kind individual to work with; I wish her the best with Arabelle's Shadows and find her to be a true inspiration. For those of you still on the fence about Shadows, there is a teaser from the book below, read it and see if it's the book for you!

My day started off okay. I had a casting at Emporium, a shopping centre near Rompo. I’ve always loved being in Emporium. Outside it’s all hot, dirty and crowded but as soon as you walk through the entrance everything’s cool, spacious and sparkly. And it’s welcoming, even though it’s full of lavish designer stores. It’s not like other stuffy malls for the wealthy, which always make me feel uncomfortable like, since I don’t have a platinum credit card, I shouldn’t be there.

After the casting I saw my friend Ying Thompson walking towards the escalator. She broke off from the group she was with and came over to give me a hug. “Hey Arabelle, what are you doing? Come sit with me while I get my makeup done.”

“Are you doing a fashion show?” I asked her thinking of all the models that’d been with her. “Nope. The others are, I’m hosting the event. Come on!” Without waiting for me to reply she linked her arm through mine and led me downstairs towards a backstage area in the basement. Ying’s a very popular singer in Thailand. As we walked through the mall you could hear people saying her name and giggling. Ying paid no attention to all the turning heads. She was on the phone, in the middle of a fierce monetary negotiation with a client. They want her to become the face of their rice crackers.

The concrete room we entered was full of people bustling around getting ready for the fashion show. We found an empty space and sat down amongst everyone else’s handbags, shawls and bottles of water.

“So what’s been happening?” She asked in a strong Kiwi accent (her Dad's from New Zealand, her Mum’s Thai-Chinese). “I think I…” I was bursting to tell her about Naak but Ying’s assistant interrupted and started asking a lot of questions in Thai. “Sorry,” Ying said focusing her attention back to me, “what were you going to say?”

“I was out at Bed the other week and… well… I think I’m dating Naak!”

Ying pursed her lips together in a frown, not the look of excitement I’d been expecting. “No you’re not.” Ying said flatly, “Naak has a girlfriend. She left to study in the States a couple of weeks ago.”

Looking away from Ying I caught sight of my reflection in the makeup mirror opposite me. My face was stuck in the smile I’d worn when I was telling her I had a boyfriend. Except now the lines around my mouth were strained. With bulging eyes my smile looked more like a grimace.

“I think they’re dating because her family owns a lot of the property on Sukumvit Road,” Ying continued. “You know, she’s only eighteen!” Naak’s thirty.

“Okay,” I murmured. I searched desperately for something else to say in response. Luckily the brand new mobile on Ying’s lap began to vibrate. With her perfectly manicured fingers, a tiny crystal heart in the centre of each nail, Ying set about replying to the text message. Ying hates all unpleasantness and it appeared that, as far as she was concerned, the issue was settled.

I’ve had plenty of experience detaching myself from my wretched weeping soul and by the time Ying put her phone down I'd rearranged my face into neutral. My robot body looked at my mobile and told Ying, “Sorry, I've got to go see the agency now,” it hugged her goodbye. It smiled and acted like Arabelle didn’t care that Naak had a girlfriend.

My insides died and disintegrated the whole journey home. I paused the tears right up until I exited the elevator. When I found no one in my shared room I blinked, allowing them trickle down the sides of my face and jump to the floor.
Want more? Buy the Book

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