Thanks for participating in this discussion, Heather! What are your ambitions for your writing career? What would your career look like in an ideal world?
I’d like to be part of the YA canon, with at least one book that stands the test of time. Of course, I'd love all the awards, too! I like straddling that line between literary and commercial, so I really just want to keep writing the books I want to write for, you know, the rest of my life!
Well you did win my Best Book Award ;) Which writers inspire you?
Walt Whitman is my favorite poet and I go to him when the well runs dry. I really enjoy reading Laini Taylor for fantasy and E. Lockhart for contemporary. Writers who write both contemporary and fantasy – like Libba Bray – also inspire me, since that is what I do.
Some people say that all stories are inspired by real experiences. Were any of the events in your books inspired by your own life?
I think there’s always a little piece of the writer in whatever book they’re working on. I’ll Meet You There is my most autobiographical in that my dad is a Marine who suffers from PTSD. I’m also a lot like Sky in that I was an artist stuck in a small town. With Something Real, I was very much like Chloe in that I want to travel the world (33 countries and counting!). And Exquisite Captive is set in LA, where I’m from, so all my favorite places are featured there, as well as countries I’ve traveled to.
Wow! You've gone to so many different places! Give us an insight into how you create your main characters.
I just start writing them and let them tell me who they are through scenes. I also like to use Pinterest to develop the world of the story. (HDWriter is my Pinterest name).
I've never considered using Pinterest for story development. That's a great idea! Your stories touch on really serious issues without making the whole novel seem dark and dreary, especially I’ll Meet You There. How do you accomplish that?
I’m a sucker for good romance and I think that brings the lighter side to these novels. It can’t be too dark with romance between characters who really want to make it work.
Something Real is about the harsh realities of reality TV. Do you have any guilty pleasure reality TV shows that you watch?
When I was living in Korea (as an ESL teacher) I got really homesick and would watch America’s Next Top Model, since it was one of the only shows in English on TV. I don’t watch reality TV, but I love UnReal.
ANTM was also one of my guilt pleasure shows. How much research did you have to do before writing your books?
I had to do a lot for I’ll Meet You There. I interviewed several Marines and Soldiers, as well as read a lot of non-fiction and online articles in order to capture the war properly. My husband is an actor, so he helped me with all the filming stuff in Something Real. With Exquisite Captive, I did a ton of research about jinn mythology and traveled to Morocco for Book 2.
How do you pick names for your characters?
They honestly just come to me.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on my next contemporary. It’s called Bad Romance and it’s about an abusive high school relationship. Very autobiographical! I’m also working on my new fantasy series, which is set in a Gotham/Hong Kong city with fashion and music from the 1930’s. Magic, mobsters, and mayhem!
I can't wait to read those! What draws you to young adult books?
I love that they chronicle “firsts” – first love, first kiss, first everything. I also love the hope in them-they’re not cynical.
Is that also your favorite genre to read?
Yes! I mostly read YA and the occasional adult literary novel. I also love craft books.
Why do you write?
Because I can’t not write. It’s who I am. I literally feel unwell when I don’t write, like physically. It’s a real thing.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
Writing! No, the hardest part for me is when it’s not flowing. Some books are harder to crack than others.
What is the easiest thing about writing?
Living in my imagination.
What book/s are you reading at present?
I’m reading my dear friend Lisa Papademetriou’s book, a middle grade called A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic – delightful! I’m also reading Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down The Bones, a great craft book.
I'll add those to my "To-Read" list! Do you have any advice for other authors?
Write every day and know even the most seasoned writers have crappy first drafts. Also, read!
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
They can check out my website: www.heatherdemetrios.com
Thanks for being a part of this Q and A! Good luck in all of your future writing!
o Amber Gregg o
Check out my reviews of two of Heather’s books!