Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Author Interview with Heather Demetrios

I was lucky enough to read an ARC of SOMETHING REAL - and I devoured it. It was amazing! I just
came out and you have a chance to read it too - check out the end of the post for a contest.

Thanks for stopping by Heather to answer some questions! 

  1. What made you choose to write YA?  I love the idea of there being the possibility that my book could change someone’s life. That’s not to say that books for the adult market can’t change an older reader’s life, but when you’re a teen, you’re on the cusp of adulthood. You’re still figuring out your path and who you are. And even though you’ll likely be on that quest to some degree your whole life, it’s when you’re a teen that the groundwork gets laid. As a reader, I love YA because there’s always hope in it. No matter how desolate a landscape or how desperate the conditions, most YA novels have an end that looks the future in the eye and isn’t totally freaked out by what it sees. And I love “firsts”: first kiss, first jobs, first time you spread your wings. Those moments are fun to read and a blast to write. It never gets old for me. - LOVE this answer! It's one of the reasons I'm a YA Librarian. 
  1. How do you get your ideas?  Do you use real events in your novels and if so, can you describe one?  I get my ideas from pretty much everywhere. It could be a magazine article, a song, a current event—even dreams. I think as a writer you have to keep your eyes and ears open. This is harder than it sounds because I’m always daydreaming, lost in my head. I forget to look at the world around me because I’m often hanging out in ones of my own creation. You need a balance between those things. When I get an idea, I write it on an index card and put it in a cigar box I bought at a voodoo shop in New Orleans. Then when I’m stuck, I flip through the cards. I sometimes use scraps of real events in my novels—like, something from my past might be the spark for something totally new and fictional. In Something Real, Bonnie™ and Patrick go to the local park, after hours. This is totally something my friends and I used to do and my high school boyfriend and I hung out there a lot. It’s weirdly awesome. And I talk about Pepsi Freezes—those are very real and the only ones in the country that are worth your time are in Clovis, CA, at the gas station on Shaw Avenue. So, if you’re up for a road trip…I definitely use real places that I’ve been to or lived in. Setting is huge for me. The settings in some of my other books are almost like characters themselves.
  1. How did you come up with your title?  There was major title drama. We couldn’t come up with one for the longest time! My editor will tell you that titles are the bane of my existence. It was hard to come up with something that suggested the two big things in the story: the whole reality TV context for the events, and the love story. I came up with Something Real while eating tacos in Boston. My husband and I were brainstorming and it just came to me. Thank God! The cover designer was like, please give me something!! It was important that the title feel emotive, rather than cerebral, and that was hard to do at first because reality TV is all about fabricating reality. I’m really happy my editor held out for the right one.  - And it's a great title. 

  1. Can you tell us a little bit about Something Real?
Why, I’d love to! This is a book about a girl who’s realizing, maybe for the first time, that she has no control over her life. And she wants that to change. A lot of my readers have said that they can really empathize with Bonnie™, my protagonist, and this seems to surprise them, since she’s living this life that seems—at first—so far from our own. She has paparazzi chasing her, cameras in her house…But at the end of the day, it’s about someone finding out she has some guts and she can be a little fierce when she needs to be. She learns to stand up for herself and for the people she cares about. I think it’s a fun book in that we get this insider’s view of what it would be like to have your family on reality TV. But we also see how much that sucks. It’s got romance, car chases, and on camera drama, but it also has real relationships and choices that we’ve all had to make. It's SO Super Good. I'll have a review coming later this week.

  1. Have you ever been on TV?  No, thank God! I’m as camera shy as Bonnie™. I hate seeing myself on camera. My husband used to be on TV, so he’s my go-to guy on all things film and TV related. He also has a film degree, so he gave me the technical terms I needed. I used to be an actress, when I was in high school and college (I have a theatre degree from USC). I thought I wanted to be on TV, but about halfway through college I realized I wanted to be behind the camera (so to speak—I was all about theatre). So I went from acting to directing to writing. Writing’s totally where it’s at for me.
  1. What will you did you do on your release day?  I’m getting a tattoo! I already have several, so this isn’t some huge daredevil thing for me. But I wanted to commemorate the day in an extra-special way, since it’s my debut novel. I’m getting one of Bonnie™ and Patrick’s favorite words (in the book, they come up with a list). I think champagne might be involved, as well. And spending way too much time on Twitter and Facebook. I have three big events throughout the week to launch the book, but I wanted to keep the release day mine.
  1. If you could guest star on any show, what would it be? These are awesome questions! Hmmm…I think I’d want to be on Game of Thrones because the costuming and set would make me feel like I really was in a place where magic could happen. But if I could be a badass assassin or spy on Homeland or something like that, I’d take it. Oh! Or maybe Dance Academy, so I could get a free trip to Australia. - Oh, GOT would be very fun, but so would a spy/assassin or dancer. 
  1. Do you have a favorite reality show? I don’t watch reality TV often (I did to research this book and I had a brief period of time when I lived in South Korea, where I watched a few shows because they were the only things in English). Out of all of them, I like The Amazing Race the best because my husband and I are hardcore travelers. I think I broke my grandma’s heart when I decided I was too lazy to do the audition for it (too lazy and also…what if I yelled at my husband on camera because I was sleep-deprived and wanted to win a million dollars?!). I think she’s forgiven me, though.  Great story! 
  1. What are you working on next? About five-thousand things! Well, not really, but it feels like it. I’m currently working on the second book in my YA fantasy trilogy about jinn with HarperCollins / Balzer+Bray (The Dark Caravan Cycle). The first book, Exquisite Captive, comes out this October. I have a second YA contemporary coming out from Holt next year. It’s a love story that features a nineteen-year-old Marine who loses a leg in Afghanistan and comes home to his small town. So, you know, a comedy. ;) I’m also working on a super-secret project (super-secret because I have no idea where it’s gong) to finish up my MFA at Vermont College of Fine Arts (I’m graduating this July!). It’s a YA that’s very different from my others. A little The Grapes of Wrath, a little The Road. I think. They all sound fantastic - and early congrats on your graduation!
  1. Do you have a favorite library story? Yes! When I was a little girl, the main branch of the Los Angeles Public Library in Downtown LA was renovated and then had a kind of grand re-opening. My mom took me and I got my library card and spent loads of time in their absolutely gorgeous children’s room. It’s crazy to think my books might be in there soon. It’s a beautiful place, made even more special to me because my mom turned it into this adventure with my sister and I. We were the three Musketeers and the library felt magical. It is magical. - LOVE it!!!

  1. What was the last book you’ve read that you’ve been recommending to everyone? Eleanor and Park (YA) and The Night Circus (adult). Both of these books are gorgeously written and the stories are powerful in their own different ways. I also love Dear Sugar. My agent got me that for Christmas a couple years ago and I fell in love with Cheryl Strayed.
12. Are there any authors you’d love to meet?  Um…yeah! So many. I’d love to sit down and chat with Laini Taylor about her process – she’s such an interesting person and one of my very favorite writers. Anne Lamott, because Bird by Bird is my writing bible. I recently got to meet Lucy Christopher and she’s a fabulous person and her approach to her work is so interesting. And, of course, I’d love to meet J.K. Rowling (who doesn’t?). The great thing about the YA community is that there are lots of opportunities to meet writers you admire and talk shop with them.

  1. Do you have a favorite literary quote? I have to limit it to just one?! Actually, this is very easy for me. It’s by Walt Whitman and is pretty much my artistic statement: “I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable. I sound my barbaric yawp from the roofs of the world.” When in doubt, open up Leaves of Grass. It will save your soul every time.  
  1. Listing of your favorites: 
    1. Candy: sour Jelly Bellies and chocolate
    2. Pizza topping: Pepperoni and olives and, also, this is a weird Cali thing, but I love dipping my pizza in ranch dressing. I know, it’s so weird but SO GOOD.
    3. Genre of books: YA (which there is actually a big debate about whether or not it’s a genre), and, to be more specific, fantasy. But it kinda depends on my mood, too.
    4. Singer and/or Song: Radiohead/Thom Yorke…I can’t choose a favorite, I love everything they do, but I will say that Paranoid Android is probably as close to a perfect rock song as you can get. I generally prefer their later stuff and, of that, two of my favorite songs are Packt Like Sardines in a Crushed Tin Box and Idioteque. I use a Radiohead quote in the beginning of Something Real.
    5. Restaurant: El Cholo, which is, hands down, the best Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles. Nobody does Mexican food like LA, except, perhaps, Mexico.
    6. TV show /Movie: My favorite movie is Love, Actually and White Christmas is a close second. They both take place over Christmas, but they’re way more than holiday movies. I love them. There are so many TV shows that I like for different reasons. It’s funny—I didn’t start watching TV at all until about seven years ago. I blame Netflix. I loved Friday Night Lights, Battlestar Galactica (the one with Edward James Olmos), Six Feet Under, Sex and the City, The West Wing, the first few seasons of Alias…Right now, I’m really into Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones. 
    7. Color: Dark Red
    8. Shoe: My Frye boots, my Saucony jazz tennis shoes, TOMS, and my Dansko clogs—I’m all about the comfort. In NYC, you walk everywhere.
    9. Video Game: Nope, I don’t go there. The dudes I hung out with in high school used to think it was fun for us girls to sit around and watch them play Bond. So not. I know a lot of girls and YA writers are gamers, but I just could never get into it. Give me a book and I’ll be happy.
  1. Anything I didn’t ask? These were awesome, thoughtful questions – thanks so much for having me!
Thanks for chatting with me! I'm giving away a copy of SOMETHING REAL to one lucky reading (US and Canada only)

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jpetroroy said...

This looks so fun!

Rachel Spring said...

Honestly, I don't think I would ever want to be on TV! It just becomes too personal! But I want to read this book SO bad!