"I think it all started with a feeling of what I wanted to say," Nicole Gabor, a.k.a. @nngabor, types as we begin our "live" chat via Wattpad messages. It is a Monday evening around 8 p.m. If this were a feature article in VOGUE, there would be a description of our surroundings-some chic L.A. restaurant or a New York coffee shop-and references to fashion choices and paparazzi snapping photos across the street.
Alas, we are both at home, staring into our computer screens, taking some time out from the evening bustle of family life. I have no idea what Nicole is wearing, but I'm in black leggings and a sweatshirt. NOT chic.
I am wondering how Nicole began the process of writing her first young adult novel, CATWALK, which tells the story of Catherine Watson, a somewhat sheltered 18-year-old from Philly who goes to New York to try her luck in the high-stakes world of fashion . . . much to her parents' dismay. With snappy dialogue and the kind of setting details that can come only from real-life experience, CATWALK gives the reader a chance to walk in Cat's five-inch, strappy Manolo's down the streets of Brooklyn and Manhattan; to go dancing in private night clubs where one encounters thegood, the bad, the beautiful, AND the ugly; and to strut down runways wearing the latest couture during New York's fashion week to the oohs and aahs of an appreciative audience.
It's the kind of exciting life many of us secretly-or not so secretly-fantasize about, the reason why shows like America's Next Top Model are so popular and why supermodels are read about, written about and gossiped about with an enthusiasm once reserved for movie stars. The story line seems tailor-made for a YA novel, and Nicole tells me her writing process started with neither outline or character sheets or any of the other organizational tools often recommended to first-time novelists.
"I had something I wanted to say," Nicole says. "It was personal and inspired by my time living and working in NYC as a model."
Nicole Gabor was born in Colombia-her father is Colombian and her mom American-but she grew up in the States. Her hometown, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, is a suburb of Philadelphia. Unlike her character, Cat, whose parents sent her to Catholic school, Nicole attended public school. "I led a pretty sheltered childhood," she says. "Philly wasn't far away, so when you were old enough to take the subway into the city things got a bit more exciting."
After a modeling career, Nicole went to Rutgers College of Arts andSciences and graduated with a degree in English/journalism, married her husband, launched her journalism career, and started a family. In the midst of all that, she wrote CATWALK. "I wrote most of CATWALK before my oldest (age 4) was born. When I was writing the novel, I would wake up before work at 5 a.m. each morning and get about an hour or so in a day. I had a goal of 1000 words a day, and I usually came close to this.
"I actually kept a tally on an index card right next to my computer screen, and each day I added to it. My entire novel was completed and listed on this index card, word by word!"
Since Wattpad decided to schedule updates right in the middle of our chat (how dare they!), delaying our back and forth for frustratingly-long intervals, we decided to continue the interview via email (when one technology fails you, try another!). So, without further ado, Dear Reader, learn all about the model writing life of Nicole Gabor.
Q: Your YA novel, Catwalk, is set in the world of the NYC fashion industry and modeling. What inspired you to write this particular story?
A: Catwalk is loosely based on my experiences as a fashion model in New York City and Philadelphia when I was in my teens and early 20s. Starting at age 17, I worked mainly as a runway model, and was lucky enough to walk the catwalks for top designers like Oscar de la Renta, Vera Wang, and Badgley Mischka. I did not become a super-model or get to buy my own penthouse overlooking Central Park (dang!), but I was successful enough to earn a steady income that helped pay for college.
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