Perfume: what you never expected to find in a World War II novel set in Occupied Paris by Jina Bacarr

October 11, 2021 by in category Jina’s Book Chat, Writing tagged as , , , , with 2 and 0
Home > Columns > Jina’s Book Chat > Perfume: what you never expected to find in a World War II novel set in Occupied Paris by Jina Bacarr

I’ve had a zillion jobs in my career.

US Army rec specialist in Europe, AM/FM radio commercial artist, traveling cosmetic saleslady for a French company, club dancer, soap opera player, writer for kids’ TV…

And perfume model.

So, what does a perfume model do?

The gig started when I got a call from the modeling agency I worked for asking me if I was available to introduce a new perfume. Since I was freelancing for a travel magazine company in Beverly Hills back then, I jumped every time the agency called me with a perfume job.

The pay was good. The hours ranged from four to six hours a day. The location was always a posh department store (remember Bullocks, I Magnin’s?), and occasionally, I’d get to wear wardrobe from the couture department to complement the color scheme and theme of the perfume.

I felt like a film star.

After a session with the perfume rep explaining their marketing campaign, off I went. Sashaying around the store like I was walking on the red carpet. I’d engage customers in small talk and introduce them to the perfume.

I’d spray it on their wrist – or mine if they preferred – and then gave them a sample. It wasn’t easy. I was snubbed by snooty women, hit on by male customers, and constantly asked, ‘Where is the ladies room?’

By the end of my shift – toes squashed in three-inch heels – my feet were killing me.

But I loved it. The customers were enchanted by the quick whiff of a new fragrance and loved being whisked away for a moment of glamour. I’d regale them with my stories about Paris and the Belle Époque department stores I visited along with the history of perfume.

And the different notes of the perfume. Top, heart, base.

I soon discovered you didn’t sell the steak… perfume, that is… but the sizzle. The mystique, the mood. I had to evoke an emotional response in the customer and I did it by storytelling and learning as much as I could about perfume. How it’s manufactured, the ingredients, what that perfume can do for that customer to make her happy, feel sexy. Powerful. Loved. I became an amateur ‘nose’, learning about the different scents and essences and how they configure in varying ratios to make up a lovely new fragrance.

I used that perfume experience to create parfumier Angéline de Cadieux when I wrote ‘The Lost Girl in Paris’.

How a girl from a controversial upbringing becomes a famous perfumer during the war when she comes to Paris in 1940 to escape the Gestapo. Then how she uses perfume to do her part to win the war…

THE LOST GIRL IN PARIS is up for pre-order – and my just-revealed cover is on Amazon!

Release date: November 30, 2021

US https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09B1QDRVW/

UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09B1QDRVW/

CA https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B09B1QDRVW/

Australia https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B09B1QDRVW/ 

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Photo credits:

Jina Bacarr: Laura Burke Photography

Background: ID 137251284

© Viktoriya Panasenko | Dreamstime.com

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Nearly 500 ratings on Amazon UK!

The Resistance Girl

Juliana discovers her grandmamma was a famous French film star in Occupied Paris & her shocking secret…

UK https://amzn.to/3bU18Qv 

US https://amzn.to/2FoKKeS

Author Details
Author Details
I discovered early on that I inherited the gift of the gab from my large Irish family when I penned a story about a princess who ran away to Paris with her pet turtle Lulu. I was twelve. I grew up listening to their wild, outlandish tales and it was those early years of storytelling that led to my love of history and traveling. I enjoy writing to classical music with a hot cup of java by my side. I adore dark chocolate truffles, vintage anything, the smell of bread baking and rainy days in museums. I’ve always loved walking through history—from Pompeii to Verdun to Old Paris. The voices of the past speak to me through carriages with cracked leather seats, stiff ivory-colored crinolines, and worn satin slippers. I’ve always wondered what it was like to walk in those slippers when they were new.

A NAUGHTY CHRISTMAS CAROL

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A NAUGHTY CHRISTMAS CAROL

A SOLDIER’S ITALIAN CHRISTMAS

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A SOLDIER’S ITALIAN CHRISTMAS

CHRISTMAS ONCE AGAIN

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CHRISTMAS ONCE AGAIN

COME FLY WITH ME

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COME FLY WITH ME

LOVE ME FOREVER

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LOVE ME FOREVER

RESISTANCE GIRL

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RESISTANCE GIRL

THE RUNAWAY GIRL

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THE RUNAWAY GIRL
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I discovered early on that I inherited the gift of the gab from my large Irish family when I penned a story about a princess who ran away to Paris with her pet turtle Lulu. I was twelve. I grew up listening to their wild, outlandish tales and it was those early years of storytelling that led to my love of history and traveling. I enjoy writing to classical music with a hot cup of java by my side. I adore dark chocolate truffles, vintage anything, the smell of bread baking and rainy days in museums. I’ve always loved walking through history—from Pompeii to Verdun to Old Paris. The voices of the past speak to me through carriages with cracked leather seats, stiff ivory-colored crinolines, and worn satin slippers. I’ve always wondered what it was like to walk in those slippers when they were new.
  • veronica jorge says:

    Wow Jina, What an interesting and yes, glamorous, life. Beautiful pictures of you. Today my perfume of choice will be Cartier’s So Pretty. Alas, they no longer make this fragrance. But your story also makes me think of the fragrance of our words and actions and we too, with which we too can impact the world. Great post!!!!!

    • Jina Bacarr says:

      Thanks, Veronica — I’ve always loved adventure and was lucky enough to get these crazy jobs — and have renowned photographer Laura Burke do the headshot!
      Cartier — classic perfumes. Unfortunately, some of the original essences like oakmoss have been banned; more synthetics in today’s blends, though they’re always been around.
      Love your perfume analogy — so true about words having their own scent; so powerful and evoking emotion.

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