When you think high school romance, it鈥檚 easy to go straight to memories of butterflies, first kisses, and matching 鈥榝its at prom. But not every relationship is a Taylor Swift music video, and that鈥檚 where Heather Demetrios鈥 powerful Bad Romance steps in. Her newest YA novel features Grace, a high school junior who finds herself deep in an extremely unhealthy relationship with a guy. Whether you鈥檝e been there yourself or you鈥檝e helped a friend in the same situation, Demetrios鈥 honest portrayal of an abusive relationship will stick with you. It鈥檚 a must-read book that will leave you more empathetic and compassionate.

We caught up with Demetrios and chatted about her lady heroes, her creative breakthrough techniques, and more. Scroll on to learn more from this brilliant author!

Brit + Co: Describe your book in six words or less.

Heather Demetrios: Autobiographical. Some boys can be grenades.

B+C: Where/when do you do your best writing?

I do my best writing when I haven鈥檛 packed other pressing things into my day. If I鈥檓 distracted by my to-do list or have my phone anywhere near me, I鈥檓 screwed. I write best in my little Brooklyn office in our two-bedroom apartment (鈥渢wo鈥 is a generous description), which I painted this kick-ass green color that has great energy and then covered the walls with corkboards for moods/inspiration for my projects. I think I write best during twilight. So weird, but something about that time of day makes me want to bleed on the page.

B+C: What鈥檚 the strangest thing you鈥檝e ever done in the name of book research?

HD: For my book I鈥檒l Meet You There, which has a Marine who鈥檚 an amputee, I had to go online and research how to have sex with one leg. Like, do you keep it on or take it off? As if that wasn鈥檛 awkward enough, my husband came home from work right when I was reading up on this, which made me feel like a total perv. BUT, in my defense, I wrote a pretty killer sex scene. Just saying.

B+C: What鈥檚 your go-to cure for when you鈥檙e stuck in a creativity rut?

HD: I鈥檓 in one right now, so perfect timing on this question! I take some time off from my creativity coaching (I coach writers on process, the artistic life, and, of course, writing) so that I get to keep all my creative energy for myself. I read some poetry (currently on a Billy Collins kick and am reading Milk and Honey right now), collage, and try to fill the creative well with things that wake me up.

For example, this week, I鈥檓 going to this really cool, random spice shop in Manhattan. I don鈥檛 know if I鈥檒l buy anything (I hate cooking), but I鈥檓 excited to just dive into a really sensory experience. Weirdo stuff like that. I also am a pretty serious meditator, so I try to make sure I鈥檓 really committing to my practice and reading up on Buddhist philosophy, which never fails to give me some serious and much-needed perspective.

B+C: What two lady heroes do you turn to for inspiration, and why?

This is one of the best interview questions I鈥檝e ever gotten! Okay. Only two?! I鈥檓 going to go with Anne Frank and Virginia Hall. Okay, so I have pictures of both of them on the board above my desk and I鈥檒l tell you why. For Anne, it goes back to that perspective thing. She wrote because she had to 鈥 it was who she was. It was how she processed what she was going through, how she interacted with her inner self. She had no idea her diary was going to be one of the most important books of all time. She wasn鈥檛 trying to make herself sound literary or deep: She was just putting her heart on the page. And then the Nazis killed her.

I don鈥檛 know, it just really reminds me that I write for the same reasons she did, and it helps me try not to get caught up in all the fame/money/status crap. I see her picture and all my worries about how my books are doing or if anyone gives a crap about them fades. (Photo via Andrew Burton/Getty)

Virginia is a new hero of mine and, also, curiously, a WWII person. I鈥檓 writing my first biography, and it鈥檚 about her because she is the baddest b*tch that ever was. This is Virginia: She had one leg, was rejected by the male-dominated State Department in the 鈥30s to be a Foreign Service Officer despite crazy qualifications, so she became a spy for the British and soon the Gestapo in France were calling her 鈥渢he most dangerous鈥 of all Allied spies. #badass. She just reminds me not to let your gender or circumstances be any kind of barrier in your life. She was up against so much and just refused to throw in the towel. I want to be her when I grow up. (Photo via CIA Archives)

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B+C: What鈥檚 your latest Instagram (or Tumblr/Twitter/media) obsession?

HD: I can鈥檛 help it: I鈥檓 totally obsessed with Glennon Doyle (@glennondoyle) and Abby Wambach (@abbywombach). They are the cutest!!! If you haven鈥檛 read Glennon鈥檚 memoir Love Warrior, stop everything and read it. Then be ready to be obsessed when you find out that after she wrote this book about trying to save her marriage, she suddenly realized she was in love with a woman, who just so happened to be one of the best lady soccer players in the world. Cue ADORABLENESS. They are so rocking being wives and raising kids and being inspirations. And her ex-husband? They鈥檙e besties. Love wins.

B+C: Can you name a book that you think deserves a little more love + recognition?

HD: Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes. It is so, so, SO good. I stayed up late to finish it one night, sobbed, then emailed her right away. I only knew about it because we had the same publisher and we were going on tour together (this was for my fantasy series, which began with Exquisite Captive). Not only does it have VOICE like you wouldn鈥檛 believe, it鈥檚 based on a true story that involves her high school boyfriend and guns. I don鈥檛 want to say any more, but it is beautiful and important and everyone should read it.

B+C: What鈥檚 next on your to-read pile?

HD: Reading Milk聽and Honey and then it鈥檚 Sarah J. Maas鈥檚 third installment of the ACOTAR trilogy. SOOOOOOOO excited. I love her and every book just gets better and better. I鈥檓 also super excited about We Are Okay and The Upside of Unrequited, both by authors in an upcoming anthology I鈥檓 editing. (Editor鈥檚 Note: Check out Becky Albertalli鈥檚 interview with us!)

B+C: What advice do you have for aspiring creative ladies?

HD: My biggest advice is this: Do not let envy win. Many of us were raised in a culture that pits women against each other. I really loved what Sheryl Sandberg says in Lean In about how we shouldn鈥檛 think of our career paths as ladders, but as jungle gyms. There鈥檚 more than one way to get to the top, and there鈥檚 more room at the top than we think (though, I鈥檒l never say there鈥檚 room for everyone because, sadly, there just isn鈥檛).

Focus on your voice, your vision, and what you 鈥 unique, beautiful, wonderful you 鈥 have that no one else does and bring that to the table. Embrace your weird. Embrace your rage. Embrace the fact that the creative life is hard but that you鈥檙e a badass because you鈥檙e choosing it anyway. Not everyone will get you or love you or choose you, and that鈥檚 okay. Remember: When it comes to getting your creative work out there, you just need one yes. It doesn鈥檛 matter how many no鈥檚 came before it (just ask my girl Virginia Hall). But also? You will always be your own best advocate. Nobody, I mean nobody, will care about or fight for you and your work as much as you will. So it鈥檚 time to put your big girl panties on and get ready.

Got an author you鈥檇 like to see interviewed? Tweet us @BritandCo and let us know!

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(Featured photo via Heather Demetrios)