Welcome to Jenuine Cupcakes
this is my stop on the Something Real Blog Tour!
About the BookAuthor: Heather Demetrios
Publication: February 4, 2014
By: Henry Holt
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads
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.
About the Author
Heather Demetrios, originally from Los Angeles, now lives in Brooklyn and various imaginary locales. She is the recipient of a PEN New England Discovery Award for her debut YA novel about reality TV stardom, SOMETHING REAL (Macmillan/Henry Holt), and is the author of the upcoming EXQUISITE CAPTIVE, a smoldering fantasy about jinn in Los Angeles (#1 in the DARK CARAVAN fantasy trilogy from HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray), both out in 2014.
She is currently working on her second novel for Macmillan, a love story about a young combat veteran and a girl trapped in their small town, both struggling to escape the war at home. When she’s not hanging out with her characters, Heather is working on her MFA in writing for children and young adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts.
1) You probably get asked this a lot, but what inspired SOMETHING REAL?
I saw a People magazine with Kate Gosselin and her kids on the cover and I had this instant gut reaction, this negative, angry feeling. I felt so bad for her kids, for everything their family had been through (with the messy divorce and all the bad press). I’m not hating on fans of the show—I think there’s a natural, morbid fascination to watching people live their lives on camera. I do, however, have a problem with kids being on reality TV, even if they claim to love it. I think it brings up a lot of issues of consent: do these kids know what it means to give up their privacy? Usually when something makes me angry I write about it. But I also knew this would be a fun book to write—television is exciting and I had a great time exploring the media and pop culture world surrounding my protagonist.
I love making soundtracks for my books! I post them as playlists on my YouTube channel. I definitely think Bonnie™ would love the song “I Hate Camera” by The Bird and the Bee. But I bet she heard the song “We Are Family” by the Sledge Sisters more often than she wanted to. As “Chloe,” Bonnie™ is older and wiser—she’s not trying to please the camera anymore, so I think her song would be Garbage’s “Not Your Kind of People.” And also Radiohead’s “15 Step.” The first lines, which I use in the book are: “How come I end up where I started? How come I end up where I went wrong? Won’t take my eyes off the ball again. You reel me out and then you cut the string.”
First, I want them to have fun reading the book and to care about the characters. Bonnie™, Benny, Patrick, Lexie™ and all the others feel so real to me now (no pun intended). But I also hope that readers who haven’t really thought about what reality TV might do to the kids and families on it might be more aware of what’s happening behind the scenes. I’d like Something Real to contribute to the dialogue about what reality TV might be doing to our society, but especially to the young people on it. You know, when 16 and Pregnant came out, people were saying that there were actually girls that wanted to get pregnant so they could be on that show. Or do you remember that show a few years ago where people would get plastic surgery so that they could look like a specific celebrity? That’s messed up. I think we have to protect one another, the whole “it takes a village” mentality. I’m not saying all reality TV is bad. But I am saying some of it is and that we need to figure out why we’re watching it and what we can do to give people alternatives to being on shows that strip them of their dignity.
Benny, hands down. I love that boy. He came to me fully formed—voice, backstory, everything. It was like he tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Hey, I’m Benny. Put me in your book.” What draws me to him is that he’s a good person: good brother, friend, boyfriend, son. He’s a nurturer, but he’ll be tough when he needs to be. And he’s what keeps Bonnie™ together. Without him, I don’t think she would have survived. And I mean that literally.
5) Speaking of reality T.V. shows, which show does your life most resemble? SURVIVOR, THE VOICE or CUPCAKE WARS?
Agh! Good question. Hmmmm…I’ve never seen “Cupcake Wars,” but since everything I bake burns, I’m guessing my life doesn’t resemble that. And being an LA girl who’s idea of going out in nature is moving to Brooklyn, I would have to say “Survivor” is out, too (also, it’s a bit ruthless, no?). So, “The Voice.” And, actually, that’s not a bad show to compare a writer’s life to, because you’re always trying to find the voices of your characters and they sort of audition for you, in their own way. And then, of course, my work is always going through a rigorous “judging” process—whether it be my agent or one of my editors, someone is always looking at my work and telling me to go further, be better. Luckily, they’re always kind about it and they’re right most of the time, too.
6) What is the last book you read that blew you away?
I read all the time and I enjoy so much of what I read, but the phrase “blew you away” really raises the bar. I’d have to go with Erin Morgenstern’s “The Night Circus.” It is a gorgeous book, enormously inventive and so immersive that the whole world falls away as you read it. On the YA front, Eleanor and Park is my go-to from last year. It’s powerful stuff.
1 Copy of SOMETHING REAL by Heather Demetrios
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