Genre: contemporary YA
New York has Jacobs, Paris has Chanel, Milan has Versace and Tokyo has . . . Hello Kitty toilet plungers? With its cute-obsessed catalogue and magazine market, anyone who is anyone knows that modeling in Japan means being at the bottom of the fashion industry. Blake, Jess, and Hailey are doing their best to survive yet another casting where pigtails and toddler-impressions are a must when they stumble upon the opportunity of a lifetime. The prestigious Satsujin company has selected them to compete for a campaign that will transform the winner from commercial nobody to haute couture superstar faster than you can say Vogue Italia.
Jackie Amsden worked as a fashion model in China, Japan, and Taiwan before retiring at the age of eighteen after one too many agent threats, nude photo shoot requests, and self-loathing-induced Pocky binges. If you’d like to learn more about her decent into the darker side of Asia’s candy-coated modeling industry sign up for free installments of her upcoming memoir, Toy Girl, at www.jackieamsden.com.
Read below for an author interview with Jackie Amsden:
Can you tell us about your book, The Tokyo Girls, in 40 words or less?
When three teens are offered the chance to compete for a high-profile clothing campaign, their dreams of becoming the world’s next models of the moment seem about to come true. Of course, nothing is ever what it seems in the fashion world. Just ask all those dead girls…
What was your favorite scene to write?
One of my trips to Tokyo I lived above a girl named Kirsten, an American model also signed to my agency. I based the Jess character on Kirsten and like her, Kirsten had an American-Japanese boyfriend named Taro. Taro was a funny, gorgeous business student and they were adorable together. Having never had a boyfriend myself at that time, I was naturally totally jealous of their relationship and had a desperate crush on him.
In one of the earlier drafts of my novel, I wrote a scene where Jess goes to see Taro at his home, an austere house in one of Tokyo’s upscale neighbourhoods, Yoyogi-koen. They eat some food, drink some wine, make out, and ultimately sleep together. In other words, do all the stuff I had fantasised about doing when I was seventeen. Maybe it was the wine I was drinking that day, but I had way too much fun writing that chapter.
What was the hardest scene to edit out?
So, apparently the pages I write when I’m drunk aren’t nearly as good as they seem at the time. In fact, they pretty much stink. Much as it killed me, I eventually had to cut the Taro-Jess love scene–but it will live on forever in my heart.
What theme song would you give to the Tokyo Girls?
Every Breath You Take by The Police. It’s creepy, yet gorgeous and sexy at the same time. In The Tokyo Cover Girls, my goal was to create a world just like that.
Are you currently working on anything else?
What is currently in your TBR pile?
I’m always interested in books written by and about the modelling industry. Next on my list is a memoir, A Model Tells All by Ines C, about a woman from Serbia who spent 15 years in the industry and represented some of the biggest names in the fashion world. I’m also interested in reading The Stories Models Never Tell by Christine Hart, another modelling world veteran who started her career after completing a law degree at the age of 25.
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