By Suzy Kridner
EDGEWATER - Adora Niles is the "popular girl" in Australian author Somsay Toumneung's new teen fantasy novel, "Fairy Tale - Once Upon A Time, Act 1."
Portraying Adora on the book's jacket is a local girl, Tia McDonald, also known as Tia Lenea in modeling circles, who was selected for Ms. Toumneung's debut novel.
She depicts Adora Niles, one of a group of girls who discover true friendships that are destined to stand the test of time.
In an interview recently from her home in Gainesville, where she is a junior at the University of Florida, Ms. McDonald said the author, Somsay Toumneung of Melbourne, Australia, set the mystical teen novel in a fantasy world similar to Harry Potter's.
Represented by several international modeling agencies, Ms. McDonald said she paid her own way to Australia for the photo shoot and spent several months last year working and vacationing there. The photo shoot for the book cover was one of her jobs as well as teaching surfing.
"I went to Sydney, drove up the Gold Coast with friends who live there, and went to Whitsunday where we went snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef," she said.
"I also taught surf lessons in Melbourne," said the model, who's been surfing off and on since age 13.
Author Ms. Toumneung commented in an e-mail that "to be honest, Tia exceeded my expectations, and as such was perfect for the role" as model for the book jacket.
"She was selected via an agency based off her looks and experience," he said.
Ms. Toumneung said he corresponded with her prior to the photo shoot in Australia and "I had the good fortune of meeting her during it," said Ms. Toumneung.
"As a main character and the face of Fairy Tale, she will be featured in all runs of the book."
The former Miss Teen Florida United States 2011 is continuing her modeling career to earn funds for college.
She would be considered a popular girl, too, selected as a Medallion of Excellence winner in 2011 at New Smyrna Beach High School, and now is social chairman of her scholarship house and on the Gator Growl committee at Florida.
She graduated from New Smyrna Beach High School in 2011 and earned an associate of arts degree from Daytona State College in a year.
When she comes home, the 19-year-old lives in Edgewater with her proud mother, Dawn McDonald.
"Mom has been very supportive. I couldn't do any of this without her support. She pushed me to be a go-getter," said Ms. McDonald.
"I've been doing pageants my entire life," Ms. McDonald said, adding she became more competitive when she was 9 or 10.
"While I did toddler pageants, it's such a shame to see Honey Boo Boo on television, not all pageants are like that," she said.
"Pageants taught me poise, presence and how to speak in public. There wasn't all the garbage that goes on today for television."
She said she plans to compete for Miss World. "If I qualify for Miss World, it will be my last pageant."
First, she'll be interviewed later this year for Miss United States. "Interviews are one of the biggest factors, as well as community service and stage presence," she said.
"If I win that one, I will go on to Miss World."
"I want to be a part of something that's bigger than myself, something very prestigious. It's an opportunity to better myself and hopefully become Miss World."
The competition will be in England, where Ms. McDonald visited during the Olympics.
"I got to sit pretty close to Prince Harry," she said.
With her modeling career, she also has visited other countries, such as Jamaica, Bahamas, France, Italy, England and Canada, as well as many cities in the U.S.
"I love to travel," she said.
She is studying public relations at Florida and has always represented herself. "I want to make sure I have a good reputation."