the MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults Author Blog

Heather Demetrios and BLOOD PASSAGE!

Posted by Adi Rule on Sat, May 21, 2016 @ 11:05 AM

Today we're celebrating Blood Passage, the second book in Heather Demetrios' Dark Caravan Cycle (Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins)! Heather is a member of the Allies in Wonderland (Summer '14). 


A jinni who’s lost everything.

A master with nothing to lose.

A revolutionary with everything to gain.

When Nalia arrives in Morocco to fulfill Malek’s third and final wish she’s not expecting it to be easy. Especially because Malek isn’t the only one after Solomon’s sigil, an ancient magical ring that gives its wearer the power to control the entire jinn race. Nalia has also promised to take Raif, leader of the jinn revolution, to its remote location. Though Nalia is free of the bottle and shackles that once bound her to Malek as his slave, she’s in more danger than ever before and no closer to rescuing her imprisoned brother.

Meanwhile, Malek’s past returns with a vengeance and his well-manicured façade crumbles as he confronts the darkness within himself. And Raif must decide what’s more important: his love for Nalia, or his devotion to the cause of Arjinnan freedom.

Set upon by powerful forces that threaten to break her, Nalia encounters unexpected allies and discovers that her survival depends on the very things she thought made her weak. From the souks of Marrakech to the dunes of the Sahara, 1001 Arabian Nights comes to life in this harrowing second installment of the Dark Caravan Cycle.

Welcome, Heather! So, tell us . . .

Who was your favorite character to write and why?

My favorite character to write was Malek, one of the villains in the series. In this book, he’s a POV character and we learn so much about his motivations and how events in the past are affecting the present. I think the best villains are the ones that make you sympathize with them. I really wanted to show his humanity, his vulnerability. It’s been really interesting to see how many readers love Malek—they always make sure to say they “shouldn’t” like him because he’s a slave owner, but he’s charming, intelligent, and witty: very hard things for readers to ignore. I think it’s all about layers and it’s inherently interesting to see underneath a character’s armor.

It's exciting to come across a truly three-dimensional villain. Readers will love experiencing Malek's POV!

Do you write in silence? If not, what’s your soundtrack?

I used to need total silence, but when I started working on this series, I found myself listening to a lot of Anoushka and Ravi Shakar, as well as a beautiful recording I heard of the call to prayer. Oh, and music from Game of Thrones because it’s so epic. The instrumental parts of movie soundtracks can be really great because they’re so dramatic. The music helped bring Morocco alive for me (which is where the book is set—I traveled there to do research). It can be really great for world building.

Tell us about something special you keep on your desk/wall as you work.

I have a jar filled with sand from the Sahara desert that I collected when I was on my trip to Morocco to research for this book. It grounds me in the world of the story, but it was also the most amazing place I’ve been on Earth, so it inspires me to plan for the next trip! I have lots of little things like that on my desk and wall. Luckily, I have my own home office, so it’s pretty tricked out.


How did attending VCFA affect your writing life?

It gave me a sense of authority – I didn’t feel like a beginner by the time I was through at VCFA. It also gave me my wonderful class, the Allies in Wonderland (Summer ’14) – we all are very close and encourage/inspire one another. I don’t know what I’d do without them. Writing is such a solitary act and having them makes it feel less lonely. Finally, my writing life is deeply grounded in craft and understanding the process, two major things you get at VCFA.

What advice would you give to a prospective VCFA student?

Enjoy it as much as you can because it’s over before you know it! I would also suggest trying to get one book finished during your time there so that you have something you can go into the big wide world with. I already had publishing contracts when I started at VCFA, so I had to finish books, but my friends who were able to do that who hadn’t finished a book before were so proud of that accomplishment. There’s a definite melancholy that comes in the months after graduating and I think it’s a really good idea to set yourself up for the next steps. Your advisor can help with that, too. 

Great advice. Thanks so much for stopping by!

Demetrios_Author_Photo_2015.jpgHeather Demetrios's books include Something Real, I'll Meet You There, and Exquisite Captive, the first book in the Dark Caravan fantasy series. She is a recipient of the PEN New England Discovery Award for her debut novel, Something Real. Originally from Los Angeles, she now calls New York City home. Visit Heather online at




Topics: young adult, Heather Demetrios, Balzer + Bray, HarperCollins, 2016 release

Launch Day for Heather Demetrios and EXQUISITE CAPTIVE!

Posted by Adi Rule on Tue, Oct 07, 2014 @ 08:10 AM

Congratulations to Heather Demetrios, whose YA Exquisite Captive (Balzer + Bray) escapes into the world today!


Forced to obey her master.

Compelled to help her enemy.

Determined to free herself.

Nalia is a jinni of tremendous ancient power, the only survivor of a coup that killed nearly everyone she loved. Stuffed into a bottle and sold by a slave trader, she’s now in hiding on the dark caravan, the lucrative jinni slave trade between Arjinna and Earth, where jinn are forced to grant wishes and obey their human masters’ every command. She’d give almost anything to be free of the golden shackles that bind her to Malek, her handsome, cruel master, and his lavish Hollywood lifestyle.

Enter Raif, the enigmatic leader of Arjinna’s revolution and Nalia’s sworn enemy. He promises to free Nalia from her master so that she can return to her ravaged homeland and free her imprisoned brother—all for an unbearably high price. Nalia’s not sure she can trust him, but Raif’s her only hope of escape. With her enemies on the hunt, Earth has become more perilous than ever for Nalia. There’s just one catch: for Raif’s unbinding magic to work, Nalia must gain possession of her bottle…and convince the dangerously persuasive Malek that she truly loves him. Battling a dark past and harboring a terrible secret, Nalia soon realizes her freedom may come at a price too terrible to pay: but how far is she willing to go for it?

Inspired by Arabian Nights, Exquisite Captive brings to life a deliciously seductive world where a wish can be a curse and shadows are sometimes safer than the light.

Learn more at and at, and check out our interview with Heather about this year's Something Real.

Yay, Heather! Welcome, Exquisite Captive!

Topics: young adult, 2014 release, Heather Demetrios, Balzer + Bray

Heather Demetrios and SOMETHING REAL

Posted by Adi Rule on Fri, Mar 21, 2014 @ 12:03 PM

Today we're talking to Heather Demetrios about her YA novel Something Real (Macmillan/Henry Holt, Feb. 2014). Here's a bit about it:

Something Real Cover Final

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. 

Welcome, Heather! We're thrilled you could join us. Congratulations on your launch! So tell us . . .

Who was your favorite character to write and why?

Benny was my favorite character to write because he pretty much announced himself. He wasn’t a character I had to do any homework on—he just is. I showed up, he showed up and the combination of those two things is what you see on the page. I would love to just hang out with him sometime. He’s got a beautiful heart and is fiercely loyal. He also cracks me up.   

Tell us about how you sold this book. What was it like when you found out? Do you have an agent? Were there a lot of revisions along the way?

After I got the 2012 Susan P. Bloom PEN Discovery Award for the book (then called Streaming) I submitted to a couple of carefully selected agents. I was an editorial intern at Candlewick at the time (this was just before I started at VCFA). They suggested Brenda Bowen from Sanford J. Greenburger, who’d been on my radar for quite some time. She was an editor and publisher for over twenty years before becoming an agent and worked on some of my favorite books. When she said she wanted to represent me, I just about died. She is an amazing person to have in my corner. She knows the business inside and out, yes, but the best thing is her eye. She vets all of my work and has such a great understanding of how to bring out the best in my stories and characters. Plus, she’s a hustler. I love that woman. She had me revise the ending—it was a little too tied up—and then we sent it out. We sold it in a pre-empt to Macmillan/Henry Holt a few weeks before my first VCFA residency in a two-book deal (the second book is a totally unrelated YA). I really felt like my editor, Kate Farrell, got the book right away, so I was excited to work with her.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever Googled as research for your writing?

My second book from Holt is another realism called I'll Meet You There (Winter 2014). It features a young Marine who lost a leg in Afghanistan and has to return to his small hometown. I had to google two things that were definitely outside my comfort zone: how to put on a prosthetic limb (awesome videos are out there!) and how people who have lost legs have sex (I wasn’t sure if they preferred to keep the limb on or take it off…and, no, this leg of the research—pun intended—did not include videos).

What nugget of craft advice has been especially helpful to you?

Amanda Jenkins did a lecture a few residencies ago about missed moments. She pointed out times in which an author didn’t go deep or far enough with a particular scene, glossing over the uncomfortable bits. She also talked, in another lecture I believe, about having a “niggling feeling.” That’s basically the voice inside you that’s telling you something isn’t right. Both of these concepts are things I’ve really taken to heart and have helped me immensely in my own work. I love the way she looks at the work of writing. She’s been enormously influential. I had a special workshop with her and we worked on Exquisite Captive, which is the first in my YA fantasy trilogy from HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray (coming out Oct. 2014). Her way of asking questions to get to true, gut reactions about plot was also very helpful.

What is your favorite VCFA memory?

My first residency—July 2012—I was walking back up the hill from the Three Penny with several of my classmates (the Allies in Wonderland…we graduate this July!) [Woo hoo! :)]. We decided it’d be a good idea to lay down on the sidewalk about halfway up the hill and stargaze. This would not be the first time we would do this over the course of our time at VCFA. So we’re lying there, feeling giddy that we’re pursuing our dream and bonding with these newest kindred spirits when we see a shooting star. It was a magical moment, utterly divine. It felt like the universe was saying yes. It was a benediction and the start of something wonderful. I love the Allies. We’re an incredibly close class and, for me, they are absolutely the best part of VCFA.

Who were your advisors at VCFA?

I’ve had Rita Williams Garcia, Coe Booth, Amanda Jenkins, and am finishing up with Amy King. I’m a lucky lady. Each of these women has given so much and I’ll be forever grateful.

Thanks so much for stopping by!Demetrios Author Photo

When she's not traipsing around the world or visiting imaginary places, Heather lives in Brooklyn with her husband. Something Real won the 2012 Susan P. Bloom PEN New England Discovery Award and her next novel, Exquisite Captive, the first in a YA fantasy trilogy about jinn, comes out from HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray in October 2014. 

Hey, friends, visit Heather at, follow her on Twitter, and like her on Facebook.

Topics: young adult, Macmillan, 2014 release, Heather Demetrios, Henry Holt

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