A Hero and Other Fiction, a conversation with author Demitria Lunetta

Author Demitira Lunetta’s first two books were not originally published.  Her first was her college senior project of write a novel and she used an idea she had had in high school.  Her second was a fantasy novel that was not traditionally published, but she has been releasing it through Kindle Vella (a serialized fiction platform), though she is “polishing it up” and “heavily editing” before each release. After that originally failed traditional publishing, she “shopped” a book that was also fantasy, and it became her first published novel, In the After (and was followed by In the End). Her has a current work in progress, in its “very very early stages.” Laughing, she said “I have to really get cracking on it!” The project is a sequel to Our Broken Earth (2021) which is written in verse, and is a climate apocalypse “teenage version of The Road.” 

Bitter and Sweet (2020), is a contemporary fiction book and is a “Bonnie and Clyde type of story.”  Herself originally from south Florida, she wanted to “portray these two kids who were a bit lost in their lives and they go on an adventure; but it’s much darker than that.” The book is a “hi lo” book which is a book with high readability or high topic of interest, but with a lower reading level. This kind of book, with age-appropriate content yet a lower reading level, is ideal for teens who find reading difficult, and/or those who think they don’t like to read and “don’t want to get stuck reading.” 

Anti/Hero, a part of the DC Comics world (although Batman is her favorite DC character), was Ms. Lunetta’s first middle grade novel and also her first graphic novel.  Unfortunately, the timing for the release of this book was greatly affected by Covid, and she feels like the book “really missed out on what it could have been especially with school visits and book fairs.” The book was co-authored with Kate Karyus Quinn, and Ms. Quinn’s background in screen writing made the writing “easier” for them because “she already knew the format” which is similar.  Ms. Lunetta explained that graphic novel writing is different from prose writing in that “you have to think in panels, you have to think in visuals, panels and pages – the page of a comic and how do you want the action to progress on this page, how many panels does that create?” She contrasted this to a prose novel by stating that “for a book, all you have to worry about is yourself, all you have to worry about is the pretty words on the page” [again laughing]. While she enjoyed writing Anti/Hero (no sequel is planned although they are considering another co-authored graphic novel), “it’s a different part of your brain that you use… I would be more sad if I never write another novel again than if I could not write another graphic novel, but I do love them both.” 

Having written stories involving post apocalyptic times, ghosts, Scottish witches, modern day Bonnie and Clye, and a graphic superhero novel, she has no favorite.  “Whatever I’m working on pre-publication is my favorite thing.”  As for her writing process, “I have such an active imagination.” She gets an idea “stuck” in her head, and then starts thinking “what would happen if this, what would happen with that. Eventually, it turns into a novel. Sometimes I have this idea and I just have to write it right now, I have to get it out of my system.” She described that feeling as “magical.” As a writer, she has learned to “just keep plucking along.  Like anything else, the more you do something the better you get.” However, she believes a common misconception about being a writer is that “we’re all rich, we’re all famous.” The near immediacy of publishing as portrayed on tv makes her “mad.” 

Rejection is “hard at first, but after years and years and years” it “stings” less, but even after seven books, Ms. Lunetta does still get rejections. “You grow your calluses for sure in this business.” She also observed, “if I’d given up after the first 50 rejections, I wouldn’t be a [published] writer right now. You gotta just keep going.” She also advises “if you have the skills and you’re not getting published, don’t give up… You can be the best writer in the world, and if you’re not submitting at the right time or to the right people, you’re not going to get published.” According to Ms. Lunetta, co-authoring (she co-authors with Ms. Quinn, and on other series with Ms. Quinn and author Marley Lynn) involves some degree of rejection as well. “When you are writing with other people, you have to be open to their ideas, and not get hurt every time your idea doesn’t work out or someone doesn’t like what you wrote.  We do a lot of talking it out.” However, there are also benefits including “constant feedback.” 

Ms. Lunetta has “always” wanted to be an author.  But, as a small child she didn’t think it was a “real job that people were allowed to have.” As a child, she was “bossy” and often told she should be an attorney.  She wanted to be an environmental lawyer through her teen and into her college years.  However, she “very quickly realized that environmental law involved much science” which she did not like. In high school she was “very music motivated,” going to all kinds of concerts and playing percussion. She also ran cross country (“I was terrible at it and always came in last”). As a teen, she wishes she had known “it’s not that big a deal.” 

High school is the first time Ms. Lunetta realized she wanted to be a writer, and wanted to write for her age group.  Like many other YA authors, “there wasn’t a lot of YA when I was growing up,” and after college she realized she was interested in writing YA books.  “Teenagers always experience things for the first time in novels and that’s always exciting – to write someone’s first romance, their first adventure. There’s so much potential when you write YA.”