Author: Heather Demetrios
Publisher: Henry Holt BYR
Publication Date: February 4, 2014
Winner of the 2012 PEN New England Discovery Award!
There’s nothing real about reality TV.
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 and the scandal surrounding it, 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 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.
What were your three favorite things about writing Something Real?1. I got to play around so much! I had a blast writing Twitter feeds, news articles, and TV scripts. They really fed the rest of the story in ways I hadn’t expected.
2. Creating the relationships between Bonnie™ and Patrick, Bonnie™ and Benny, and Bonnie™ and Lex. It was so cool to see how these secondary characters took on a life of their own and how my proto’s relationship with each of them informed her own journey.
3. Knowing this was the book. I’d already written two books (stuck in a drawer now—you’re welcome), but as soon as I started working on this one I just knew that it was “the one.” People were responding to it with so much enthusiasm andI was having a great time writing it and both of these things fueled me through the whole process.
What was your least favorite thing?Getting the first scene right. I’m really happy with it now, but it took a long time to figure out exactly where the book started (and by first scene, I mean the first part of chapter one, before she goes home). There are some aspects of it that have stayed the same all along, but it wasn’t until I was finished with the book that I could see just how Bonnie™’s story started. But once it was finished…total happiness!
What does your writing space look like or consist of?
First, I have to say that not only is this the first time I’ve ever had an office, but it’s my little slice of heaven in Brooklyn (I’ve wanted to live in NYC my whole life, but only moved there six months ago). My husband and I painted it green so that on the many cloudy days here on the East Coast, I’d have some of the vibrancy of California (where I’m from). It’s also a really positive, happy color—the color of things growing. I sort of liked the poetic nature of that. Because I’m currently working on six different books, I needed a way to organize my thoughts, so that’s why I have three huge corkboards (and, honestly, I’d love six!). These get switched up a lot, but the two that are side by side are dedicated to my Dark Caravan trilogy from HarperCollins (the first book, EXQUISITE CAPTIVE, comes out in October). I put pictures of my characters, notes for plot and character, revision to-do lists, maps…all sorts of stuff! The third board is mix of Macmillan books (SOMETHING REAL and an untitled that’s coming out next winter), as well as snippets of inspiration for my super-secret WIP (super-secret because it’s super new and I don’t want to jinx it). Above my desk is my encouragement board, for lack of a better term. It has notes from people I love and the lyrics to my favorite hymn (“Be Thou My Vision”) and lots of quotes, especially from one of my mentors, A.M. Jenkins. I have bottles all over the office—I began collecting bottles after I started my jinni books (my fantasy from HarperCollins) and little things from my classmates at Vermont College of Fine Arts. The bookshelf is mostly full of poetry and craft books, and then books I’m using for the lecture I’ll be giving at VCFA in the summer (based on my critical thesis), as well as some of my TBR pile…and a bunch of books which just kind of sneaked in there because they were lonely. The only thing really missing is a chair for my husband. He often comes in to brainstorm with me, so we have to figure that out so he’s not stuck on the floor all the time!
If Something Real had a theme song what would it be?“I Hate Camera” by The Bird and the Bee, no question. But I just discovered a song by Whitley called “More Than Life” and it is a very close second. The first song is more about Bonnie™ and what it’s like for her to always be on camera, but the second song is all about her and Patrick. It’s pretty swooney. I actually have a fun playlist on YouTube with those songs on there. One thing I’m super excited about is that for my book launch, I’ve got a bunch of singer/songwriters coming in to perform original songs about the book. I’ll have that up on YouTube soon. Bonus: an awesome a capella group my friend is in will be performing two songs: Weezer’s “Island in the Sun” (which is in the book) and Joss Stone’s “Fell In Love With A Boy” (genius on their part!). I think music is such a huge part of a teen’s life because it helps you figure out who you are, so I really love diving into my playlists to find the right music for each book I write.
What was the last book you finished and loved?Eleanor and Park, for YA and The Night Circus for adult/fantasy. Both of these books are beautifully written and have characters I really care about. Eleanor and Park is a punch to the heart you didn’t know you needed and The Night Circus is so utterly magical and transportive that you’ll cry after you finish it—the book hangover is that bad. I know I sound like a masochist, but I can’t recommend these books highly enough!
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