The lovely Heather Demetrios is joining us on the blog today with a great interview, and a giveaway of her debut novel, SOMETHING REAL. I am so happy to have her with us today, and I hope you love her interview answers as much as I do! You can find the other tour stops listed here.
SOMETHING REAL by Heather Demetrios
The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: February 4, 2014
Publisher: Henry Holt
Seventeen-year-old Bonnie™ Baker has grown up on TV—she and her twelve siblings are the stars of one-time hit reality show Baker’s Dozen. Since the show's cancellation, Bonnie™ has tried to live a normal life, under the radar and out of the spotlight. But it's about to fall apart . . . because Baker’s Dozen is going back on the air. Bonnie™'s mom and the show's producers won't let her quit and soon the life that she has so carefully built for herself, with real friends (and maybe even a real boyfriend), is in danger of being destroyed by the show. Bonnie™ needs to do something drastic if her life is ever going to be her own—even if it means being more exposed than ever before.
Heather Demetrios' Something Real is the winner of the Susan P. Bloom PEN New England Discovery Award.
Thanks to the lovely people at Macmillan, I have one copy of SOMETHING REAL to offer a reader. The only catch is that you have to have a US/CA address. (Sorry international folks!)
What is your favorite part of SOMETHING REAL?
I love this question! I don’t think anyone has asked me this yet. My favorite part involves a red T-shirt. I can’t say more without spoiling anything, but it was a really important moment for me because it deals with something I care a lot about. And it makes me cry, which is so weird because I wrote it, which makes me sound like I think I’m an awesome writer but that is not what I’m saying. I just love Benny so much. Anyway, when you read it, you’ll know what I mean.
Are you working on any projects currently?
Yes, quite a few! I’m really excited about my book from HarperCollins that comes out this October. It’s called EXQUISITE CAPTIVE and is the first in a YA fantasy trilogy about jinn. It’s been so much fun to write and there aren’t really many books about jinn, so I’m excited for it to be out there. It’s about so many things, too: trafficking, revolution, race, class, power, love…and it’s got fast cars, too.
I also just finished revisions for my second book Macmillan novel, called I’LL MEET YOU THERE. It comes out next winter and is about a young Marine who comes home after losing a leg in Afghanistan and a girl who’s struggling to leave her going-nowhere life. It’s a romance, but it’s gritty and deals with some pretty tough stuff. It’s very, very close to my heart.
And, of course, I have a few super secret works-in-progress that I’ll tell people about once that don’t look like amorphous blobs of ink.
Is there a certain idea or emotion that you want to project to your readers? If so, what is it?
You know, when I was talking to my web designer, he wanted me to find something—a throughline or emotion or idea—that is the same in all my books so that he could create a site that tells that story a bit. It took me a minute, because my books are all so different, even different genres. I realized, though, that they’re all about a character who is constrained in some way, stuck in a situation that she or he needs to get out of. It’s about trying to be free. I guess I want my readers to see that whether you’re a girl stuck on a reality TV show or a jinni in a bottle, you own yourself and you have to fight like hell for what you want and who you are. Kick ass and take names.
What do you find most enjoyable about writing?
I love revising. Some people might think that’s kind of weird, but I love whittling a story, making it better and better and better. But, in general, it’s so great just to be able to tell stories for a living, to live in my imagination 24-7. I’m so grateful to be able to do that. Creating new worlds, new characters, getting into the nitty gritty of what it means to be human—it rocks.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Write, write, write. Every day. Every. Single. Day. Don’t get discouraged—your first drafts will suck and you’ll have lots of rejection…but it’s okay because it’ll get better. You have to love to write to write and love to read, too. You should be reading A TON. And write something original, something you’re passionate about. Trends will get you nowhere. Also, read Bird by Bird. It will kinda change your life as a writer.
What, for you, is the most memorable line SOMETHING REAL? What does that line mean to you, or why is it that that line stands out to you?
I feel like each time I look at it, something new will pop for me, depending on how I’m feeling. I guess this one sums up the book for me, though: “I’m not Bonnie™ or Chloe. I’m the essence of her, the nontrademarked person the camera can never capture and my parents have no right to sign over. There is a sovereign nation encased in this skin that MetaReel can never trademark.” This is Bonnie™, my protagonist, thinking about her identity and what’s been taken from her—and what can never be taken from her. She’s up against so much: her parents, this huge TV corporation, the media in general…In the book, she quotes Walt Whitman and, to me, this is what life is all about. He once said, “Dismiss whatever insults your own soul.” I love that because that’s pretty much why I wrote the book. There are things about reality TV that insult me on a soul level and I had to write about it.
Do you ever struggle with writer's block, and if you do, how do you shake yourself out of it?
I don’t like to use that term because I think it can be really crippling. Sometimes I just feel stuck or like I’ve got nothin’ in me. That usually means I’m overdoing it, like I haven’t taken some time to rest and refill the creative well. That’s when I know I need to get outside, go to a museum, see a play or something. Music really helps, too, and collaging a character’s emotions or doing something else that’s visual. I love the book Art and Fear: it deals with this issue really well.
What kind of novels do you enjoy reading?
YA, of course. That’s my favorite. Really good contemporary, like e. Lockhart or lush fantasy, like Laini Taylor. I also love really epic books when I read adult lit, books that draw you into a world and let you stay a while (YA is so quick!). I adored The Night Circus, The Shadow of the Wind, and The Invisible Bridge. These are some of my recent favorites. I’m a huge sucker for Russian lit. If you haven’t read The Master and Margarita, get yourself to a bookstore, comrade! Pick up War and Peace while you’re at it. No, really. It’s awesome.
Are there any elements in your story to which you relate personally? Did you add any of yourself, or life experiences into the story?
There are always parts of yourself that are in a book, I think, no matter how well you’ve disguised yourself. Bonnie™’s desire to travel is a huge part of who I am, but I also think that someone in her position would really yearn for adventure and distant lands. The book is set in the part of California where I went to high school, so people from that area will certainly recognize little things, like the fact that there really is only one acceptable place to get a Pepsi Freeze. And Schwartz is loosely based on my favorite teacher, David Menendian. He was one of my English teachers and I dedicated the book to him.
What surprised you most when publishing SOMETHING REAL?
That so many guys have liked it! I thought that if the cover didn’t put them off, then the female proto would, but I keep hearing from guys that they are digging it. I love that! My next Holt book is pretty dude friendly, so I’m curious to see what they think of it. I actually had a former Marine read it and he was feeling it, so that gives me hope.
Big thanks to Heather for inviting us to join the tour, and for answering my questions wonderfully. Also--thanks to Ksenia, and the other great people at Macmillan for sponsoring the tour and our giveaway!