Meet The UNDERTOW Cast – Eila Walker

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When I was writing UNDERTOW, I had a huge desire to find local Cape Cod kids to be the models for the story. Finding them, however, wasn’t so easy. But when Kim Rocha, a Cotuit resident and UNDERTOW Beta reader, said she believed “Eila Walker” was the girl who lived next to her, I had to check her out.

Hands down, neighbor Leslie McKinnon was a dead-ringer for main character, Eila Walker.

From Leslie’s Facebook page, we also located Ana Lane (Christa Mullaly), Raef Paris (Colby McWilliams), and Nikki Shea (Megan Jones). Quohog Corner creator and past BHS Drama Director, John Sullivan, managed to locate Kian O’Reilly (Justin Blaze), and MJ Williams (Sean Potter). Additionally, we also photographed Rilin West (Chris Houghton), Christian Raines (Jeremy Peacock) and Eve (Sara Dever). The last three people have characters that will appear in the other books in the series.

So, without further ado, here is the 4-1-1 on Leslie McKinnon – aka, EILA WALKER:

High School? Barnstable HS

Favorite Bands / Musical Groups? Mumford & Sons, Bon Iver, Pearl Jam, and Weezer

Hobbies? Singing, Acting, Guitar-playing, Working at Burger King

Favorite quote (from anywhere)? “You must not forget that a monster is only a variation, and that to a monster the norm is monstrous.” – John Steinbeck

How did you first find out about the fact that some random author (me – lol) wanted to use you as a cover model? Was it through me or someone else?

“I first found out about the Undertow cover shoot when Kate messaged my mom on Facebook to ask her permission to ask me to be on the cover.”

What made you say “yes” and did you think I was insane when we talked on the phone before the shoot?

“I’ve actually always had this dorky dream of being a model ever since I was little, so I wasn’t hesitant to say “yes”! I also knew I probably wouldn’t have another opportunity like this, especially with people I already knew from my school. I have to admit, when I first talked to Kate on the phone I did think she was a bit… eccentric (haha) but I could tell she was definitely very friendly and passionate about her novel.”

What was it like to be the physical embodiment of a fictional character? 

“As someone who acts, the shoot just reminded me of being in another drama production. I always had to be in character and remember who Eila is, not who I am. At times it was definitely tricky, but I relate to Eila quite a bit which made it easier. It was really fun and comfortable state of mind since I’ve had experience with theater before.”

eila blog pic

What did you think of the shoot when you were there? Did you have any worries?

“I had no idea what to expect walking into the shoot, but I actually had a really awesome time there. My only worry was actually getting all snuggly with Colby! I was afraid it would be awkward, since I know him from school, but it ended up being just fine (he’s cute, which didn’t hurt at all..). It was really great to have Christa there as Ana because she is my best friend in real life! All of us who were modeling got to bond and just had fun with it, which I loved.”

What has your family and friends thought about the whole thing?

“When I tell people about the book cover, the most common response I get is, “What?! That’s insane!” Most of my friends are really excited to buy the book, and now that some posters are up in my school’s library, there’s definitely a buzz about Undertow. My family can’t wait to buy the book and display it in our living room!”

Eila has been called the ultimate heroine and been put in the same league as Katniss Everdeen. Is it weird to be the face of a character that so many readers and reviewers seem to adore?

“Honestly, I’m very proud to be the face of Eila. She’s a strong character who wants to protect everyone that she cares about. I admire her and can relate to her a lot in many ways. It’s awesome to think that when people think of Eila, they might think of my face!”

Would you be willing to be shot again for the UNDERTOW series in the future if need be? Maybe sign books as the character, Eila Walker?

“Yes yes yes! I’d love to be able to be shot again for Undertow, as well as sign books as Eila. This whole experience has been great; I’ve really appreciated the opportunity. Thank you Kate!”

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