Publication date: July 6th 2021
Genres: Coming of Age, Young Adult
Eighteen-year-old, shy, suburban aspiring model Cat Watson suddenly has it all as the New York fashion world’s new “It” girl and she thinks she has everything she ever dreamed of—until she realizes be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.
Leaving her good-girl image behind, Cat quickly learns things aren’t always what they seem on the catwalk, and she’s faced with a decision that will change her life forever.
WILMINGTON, Delaware, May 12, 2021
When 18-year-old Catherine Watson disobeys her parents and ditches her Ivy-league acceptance to start fresh as an aspiring model in New York City, a chance encounter with fashion world bigwigs gives her a world-class agent plus a boyfriend she only dreamed about. But as she navigates the fickle world of modeling, she realizes that to get ahead, she’ll have to leave herself behind—but is it worth it? Catwalk is an expertly written tale of first love, coming of age, and high-fashion, from award-winning author and editor Nicole Gabor, inspired by her own experiences as a runway model.
In her suburban hometown, Catherine had what most would consider a charmed life: a 4.0 GPA, a good-guy boyfriend who had his whole life planned out down to the two kids, two dogs, two-car garage—and it scared her to death. She wasn’t ready to follow a traditional path to a paint-by-numbers existence. She longed for adventure, for a life less…ordinary. When Catherine moves away to pursue her modeling dream in New York City and moves in with Jon-Michelle “Jonnie” who tackles the newly-named “Cat” as “her next project,” she revels in her newfound career, thinking “this is what it’s like to be young and beautiful in the greatest city in the world.”
“At that moment, it hit me. I was a mere mortal in a room full of demigods: actors, actresses, bygone legends of the stage and screen; men and women who had traipsed down red carpets all of their lives, whom the rest of the country, no, the world, had pined for, had paid to know the secrets of. Here I was standing among them, cavorting with twenty-first century royals.”
Cat meets Seth, a beautiful and kind but troubled New York scenester, the son of a ‘70s fashion model icon who fatally overdosed during her prime, and she feels strangely protective. She wants to save him like he saved her on her first night out on the town in New York City’s gritty yet swanky meatpacking district club scene.
When Cat is “discovered” by the one and only Philippe Borghetta, the hottest fashion designer in the pages of Vogue magazine, she thinks she has it all. Her life is thrust into an alternate universe, where star-studded cocktail parties, casting calls, go-sees, and nightclub openings revolve around her like constellations. She tries to play the part. Her former self, “Catherine,” was now a shadow of who she was and what she was becoming.
Cat thinks she’s finally gotten what she wanted all along—a chance to start over, a redo, a refresh. But as the lines blur between who she once was and who she wants to be, she’s reminded of her mother’s words, “Sometimes the things that are most worth fighting for are the things you already have.” Cat finds she has to make a decision that will change her life—and possibly the modeling world—forever.
Drawing on her own experiences in the fast-paced fashion model industry, former model and author of more than twenty children’s books, Nicole Gabor masterfully weaves a timeless story of self-discovery, coming of age, and the heartache of first loves. Catwalk is her debut young adult/new adult novel, available July 2021 wherever books are sold.
My parents stared at me from across the kitchen table, stunned. They looked as though I’d just told them that our 12-year-old lab, Holly, had died.
I watched the wrinkles on my mother’s forehead get deeper and darker, and it seemed like she was aging right before my eyes. Was her hair turning gray? I once heard that former First Lady Barbara Bush’s hair turned gray overnight from the shock and grief of losing her baby daughter.
But I was not dead, or even dying. I was alive, and in the flesh. And I had just told my parents that I, Catherine Watson, their only daughter — the one with the 4.0 grade point average who my stay-at-home mother hoped would become a successful career woman, and my father secretly wished would follow in his footsteps as a lawyer — was not going to college after all.
I was, in fact, moving to New York City. To be a fashion model.
As I spoke, my letter of decline to the University of Pennsylvania’s College of Arts and Sciences was signed, sealed, and on its way to the admissions office. My mother cried and said that I was breaking her heart. My father yelled and said that I was ruining my life. Part of me feared they were right. To be honest, I couldn’t believe I’d actually gotten up the nerve to send that letter. I’d always listened to my parents, did the “right” thing. Never cut class. Been teacher’s pet. Made curfew. But I was sick of following the rules.
With my high school graduation just behind me, the idea of more school — only to be followed by an office job that would imprison me within four gray walls — was something that I couldn’t succumb to yet, if ever.
I was ready for adventure, for excitement, for a life less … ordinary. And I had a hunch that plenty of people stuck to the safe roads, so maybe, just maybe, I could make it on a path where everyone else wasn’t taking up so much space.
Of course, it did seem an odd choice. I’d always been so ashamed of the attributes that could, quite possibly, make me a model. Lanky and lean at 6 feet tall, I had a way of sticking out in the hallways, towering over most of the female (and many of the male) teachers. Growing up, I’d tried everything I could to blend in, to bulk up, to deny my stature: I drank milkshakes. Dressed in layers. Only wore flats. Avoided stretching in gym glass. Never stood next to the short boys in line.
But then, one day, something happened. My mother took me to Victoria’s Secret in Philadelphia to pick out my first fancy grown-up bra for my birthday. I was eying the “extreme lift” padded pushups (which I was sure would jumpstart my love life), when a woman tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I wanted to be a model. Just like that.
“She just turned 14,” my mother said, looking a bit puzzled and slightly irritated. “I think she’s a little young, don’t you?”
“She’s perfect,” said the older woman, who was in her sixties and dressed far more fashionably than my 45-year-old mother.
She couldn’t possibly be talking about me, I thought. Is this some sort of practical joke? A sick, twisted joke? I looked around expecting to see some mean girls from school, but the place was virtually empty. I turned back around, feeling my face flush.
“You … you think I could model?” I stammered.
“I think you’re wasting your talent if you don’t,” she said. “Here’s my card. Call me when your mother changes her mind.”
But she never did. And neither did my father. Despite all my begging and pleading. My parents said that high school was more important, that getting into college was more important. That anything was more important than “aspiring toward such a frivolous pursuit.”
So I did what any girl in my situation would do. I stomped up the stairs, slammed the door, and screamed and cried into my pillow. But for the first time in my life, I felt like something special. Someone special. And my parents were not going to take that away from me.
Nicole is a published author of more than 20 children's picture books and an award-winning health writer and editor. Her debut young adult/new adult fiction novel Catwalk is inspired by her experiences living and working in New York City as a model. She's also a freelance writer at Highlights for Children and a senior editor at KidsHealth.org, the web's most-visited site for children's health. She lives in Delaware with her husband, three children, and their Goldendoodle named Ginger. Learn more at www.nicolegabor.com
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