One of Fall 2018’s most electrifying fiction debuts, former model and agent Eugenia Melian pulls back the glittering curtain to reveal the fashion industry’s darkest secrets in WILDCHILDS: A Novel – set for release in paperback and ebook formats on September 20, 2018 (coinciding with Fashion Week in NYC, Paris, London, and Milan).
WILDCHILDS centers on Iris de Valadé, a retired top model living in self-imposed exile along the verdant Sonoma coast with her seventeen-year-old daughter, Lou. Readers are introduced to Iris at the very moment an ominous package from FedEx arrives at her door. It is a letter from a lawyer’s office informing that Gus de Santos – the love of Iris’ life, a celebrated art and fashion photographer, and the father Lou has never met – has unexpectedly died, and his estate has been left to Lou on one condition: Iris must go to Paris and recover a missing collection of his work. Iris is reluctant to return to the site of the most traumatizing experience of her life, but ultimately agrees to do so at the pleading of Lou, who is coming into her own as a young woman and increasingly at odds with her mother over her decision to give up the glamorous life she once had and quarantine them in sleepy northern California.
Iris soon discovers that she is not the only one after the photographs. An old enemy is staking claim to them, and a notorious tabloid is threatening Iris with brutal – and very private – images of her past life. To protect her daughter, Iris must confront the demons that caused her to flee Paris, her career, and her life with Gus. Will she expose the industry’s dark side and shameful secrets? Can she shield her family from the consequences?
In a gritty and suspenseful journey through past and present, WILDCHILDS takes readers from haute couture runways to cramped model flats, behind the closed doors of editorial offices of the fashion industry’s most important tastemakers, and in front of the camera in photography studios where beauty and youth are at their peak, ugliness and moral corruption abound, and timeless art is created. At its heart, though, WILDCHILDS is simply an evocative and page-turning story about human beings, with themes including the complex mother-daughter relationship, healing from trauma, the loss of innocence, abuses of power, and the darkness that lies underneath the glamorous façade of “dream jobs.”
If fashion photographs could talk, and felt like telling the truth, you’d have Wildchilds—an accomplished and compelling first novel by a true insider. Only Eugenia Melian knows every side of that world of beauty, sex, greed, and lies, starting as a model, becoming a leading photographer’s agent and a force in Paris fashion and culture of the eighties, nineties and two thousands. With cool passion and great suspense, she denounces the cowardice of those men who manipulate the most beautiful women in the world. Melian tells the story of Iris, the daughter of a famous magazine editor exiled to New York, who becomes a model in Paris and falls into love and peril. Melian’s descriptions of the steamy rise of sexual attraction on a fashion shoot are matched only by her exquisite, enchanted descriptions of a dark and secret Paris unknown to visitors.
-- Joan Juliet Buck, Author of The Price of Illusion & editor in chief of French Vogue (1994-2001)