FASHION ASSASSIN BY SARAH SKY
by Sarah Sky Series: Jessica Cole: Model Spy #2 Published by Scholastic
on 1 Jan 2015 Genres: Contemporary Crime YA Pages:
Models, spies and lipstick gadgets in this fast-paced teen series. Supermodel Jessica Cole has no intention of ever spying again after she was nearly killed by an embittered ex-model and a rogue MI6 agent. That is until she's blackmailed into posing undercover as bodyguard to a very rich fellow model. What seems like a simple job aboard a luxurious yacht in Monaco soon turns into a deadly mission to stop the most dangerous weapon in the world falling into the wrong hands. Jessica will need every gadget in her make-up bag if she wants to get out of this one alive.
On January 1st this year, the second book in the Jessica Cole Model Spy Series – Fashion Assassin by Sarah Sky came out. Book Walrus is a HUGE fan of Sarah Sky (as you’ll see from our 5* review of Code Red Lipstick).
So, Book Walrus polished his tusks, twiddled his moustache and asked the lovely Miss Sky to join him on his iceberg for a bit of walrus-human chit chat. Thank you to both Scholastic and Faye Rogers for organising this wonderful date. *Burps*. Sorry, sorry, blog tour stop. It’s NOT a date.
Hello, Sarah. Book Walrus has a soft spot in his blubbery heart for feisty, butt-kicking heroines like Jessica Cole. I was wondering, what’s the feistiest, butt-kickiest thing you’ve ever done?
I once chased after a man who mugged my friend. I didn’t manage to catch him. I doubt that’s the best thing to do if you’re mugged – he was a lot bigger than me and it was before I’d learnt karate or kick-boxing. If I’d caught up with him back then, I’m not sure what I’d have done apart from politely ask for my friend’s purse back!
Do not fear, if he had said no then Book Walrus would have walloped him with a big flipper. Would you have liked to be a model spy? Do you think you’d have been a good one?
I’d loved to have been a spy, but was never approached at university (unlike some people I know) and went into journalism instead. While researching my books, I sat three online tests that were up on the MI5 website, designed to see if people are suited to a career in espionage. In the first, you had to listen to a telephone conversation between two people for five minutes and then answer timed questions about the recording; the second was a memory test based on CCTV footage of a street and the third involved analysing three sets of data about a member of a foreign embassy who’d been recalled home – you then had to come up with an assessment of what had really happened under timed conditions. I scored highly on all three (I’ve got a very good memory for detail) and a message flashed up on the screen saying I should apply for a job with MI5. I was directed me to the appointments page. Did I apply? You’ll never know.
Book Walrus’s hairy lips are sealed. If you could have a top secret gadget to carry around in your handbag – money no object – what would it be? And why?
I’d definitely like some of Jessica’s gadgets, particularly some of her pairs of sunglasses. They appear designer but have lots of hidden functions – X-ray vision, night vision, facial recognition technology and can calculate escape routes and give directions. I have a simply appalling sense of direction, so I think this would be really handy for me!
Book Walrus is not ashamed to admit that he doesn’t have his flipper on the pulse of fashion. How do you find out all the details that make the ‘Model’ part of being a ‘Model Spy’ feel authentic?
I enjoy watching TV programmes like The Face, America’s Next Top Model and Britain’s Next Top Model. I also watched the Channel 4 documentary about Premier Model Management, which was really interesting. As a journalist I’ve interviewed models including Sophie Anderton, Olivia Inge and Katia Elizarova. I also buy a lot of glossy magazines and cut out fashion spreads I think I could use for scenes or dresses Jessica could wear. I use Pinterest a lot for inspiration and like browsing in the ladies’ evening wear department at Harrods.
Book Walrus is also a big fan of the lovely Holly Smale and her Geek Girl series. Who would win in a ‘walk off’ challenge? Jessica Cole or Harriet Manners?
Ooh that’s difficult. I love Harriet. She could fall over, of course. But Jessica could get a message relayed in her hidden earpiece, ordering her to go off and fight a baddie. I think Harriet might nail it while Jessica kick-boxes a dangerous assassin lurking in the audience.
If you were going to make a film of the book, who would you cast as Jessica Cole?
Bella Thorne could play 14. She also looks like how I imagine Jessica Cole.
Well, if you’re ever auditioning for a walrus rule you only need to call. Also, do you visit the locations you set your books in? Book Walrus wouldn’t mind a trip to Paris and Monaco, should you be in need of some debonair, if slightly fish-smelling company?
Yes, I do try and visit where possible. I did a weekend in Paris just to scope locations for Code Red Lipstick – picking the hotels she’d visit and the areas she’d go. I also had a fun weekend in Monaco with my husband – watching the multi-millionaire yacht owners compete for attention in the harbour. We people watched at a cafe, opposite the famous casino. There’s a small roundabout outside and the rich and famous deliberately drive around the roundabout a few times in their Lamborghinis and Mercedes, for the benefit of people sitting watching outside the cafe. They then have their cars parked for them and go into the casino. We found the showing off hysterically funny until we were given the bill – £30 for two small beers. That was expensive people-watching research.
My third book, Catwalk Criminal, is set in London and has a dramatic opening at the top of The Shard. I spent a long time at the top. While everyone else looked out across at the views of London, I was looking down, figuring out if someone could abseil from the side of the building or free climb. It certainly looked possible to me! I also found out how the windows were cleaned – crucial for a key aspect of my plot.
What do you enjoy most (and/or least) about being a writer?
I enjoy writing myself out of corners and knowing I’ve made something tricky in the plot work. I also enjoy editing my writing, the research that goes into the books and getting to meet fans of Jessica Cole and other authors. I dislike panicking about blank pages and writing myself into corners!
What books does Jessica Cole have on her bookshelf?
She’d definitely have Code Name Verity as she’d love reading the fictionalised story of a World War Two female spy. I think she’d have a good weep at The Fault In Our Stars and enjoy solving the mystery of Solitaire. She’d also have Helen Grant’s Silent Saturday, Emma Haughton’s Now You See Me, Gary Meehan’s True Fire and Eve Ainsworth’s Seven Days. Because Jessica’s got her finger on the pulse, she’d get Lauren James’ The Next Together and Lindsay Antonia’s Breathing Sea ahead of publication. She’d also probably have factual books like The History of the Secret Intelligence Service and Inside British Intelligence. This girl does her research.
You mentioned a third book in the series earlier. Book Walrus would love to hear more about it?
Catwalk Criminal is set in London. A sinister group called The Collective has hacked MI6 and is threatening to publish the identities of MI6 agents on the internet. It’s framed Jessica for the security breaches and is hunting for a renegade teenage hacker who’s running for his life from the shadowy leader of the group, Liberty Crossing. Will Jessica find him before The Collective? Will she clear her name and get her romance with Jamie back on track? It’s not looking good as her life is in more danger than ever before as London Fashion Week approaches.
Well, it looks like our time is up, but it doesn’t have to be. You don’t have to leave, Sarah. There’s a nice little igloo over there where we can make our home. I can feed you fish and molluscs and you can wax my moustache. Sarah? Sarah? Come back, Sarah . . .
Sarah Sky is the author of Scholastic’s Jessica Cole: Model Spy series with Code Red Lipstick and Fashion Assassin. Catwalk Criminal is published in June 2015.
Sarah is a freelance education journalist and lives in West London with her husband and two young children.
She grew up in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, and studied English at Nottingham University before gaining a post-graduate diploma in journalism at Cardiff University.
She trained as a journalist at the Western Daily Press in Bristol. Her highlight was interviewing screen legend Charlton Heston and lowest point was being sneezed on by a cow at a fatstock competition.
Sarah worked as an education correspondent for a national newspaper before going freelance. She now divides her time between journalism and writing.
She loves reading, baking, table tennis and martial arts. She’s a green belt in kick-boxing and a brown with two white stripes at karate, currently training for black.