Heather Demetrios is taking an innovative path for her next young adult "novel." She's releasing a sequel to her debut novel Something Real, The Lexie Project, but she's definitely not following the traditional publishing norms. Rather than a print copy, Demetrios is creating an entire universe for The Lexie Project to simulate and satirize celebrity culture, across Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr, via pictures, social media updates, podcasts, and more. The prose story will primarily be told on Wattpad, in serial form.
And even cooler is I have the premiere "Off The Rack with T.J. Maxxx," the celebrity podcast Lexie is interviewed on by a "Mario Lopez-type," according to Demetrios, which will reveal big things about the series as a whole.
According to Demetrios, whom I spoke with about her project:
I've listened to several celebrity interviews with Marc Maron on his podcast "WTF" and on The Nerdist, and what I like about these sorts of podcasts is that celebrities often let down their hair a bit. It's a more relaxed kind of interview setting. I wanted to do both print and audio interviews with Lexie to really give readers a bonafide celebrity protagonist. This is why Lex has an Instagram, why she blogs on Tumblr, and tweets.
But first, I'll back up: 2014's Something Real follows 13 siblings of the Baker family who grew up on a reality television show called Bakers Dozen. Now, the matriarch of the Baker clan decides to put the entire family back on TV in a follow-up to the show that made them household names. The Lexie Project focuses on teenage Lexie Baker as she takes a break from the show to pursue her own acting career in Los Angeles.
As for the podcast, T.J. Maxxx is a notorious celebrity gossip hound who has started his own podcast where he talks about reality TV and life in Hollywood. "Lexie" — aka a girl Demetrios hired to play her character (so meta!) — acts as a guest on his show.
Bonus fun fact: Demetrios's husband is a professional voice actor, and he plays T.J. Maxxx.
I wanted to shed some light on the whole celebrity interviewer culture: the people you see on Entertainment Tonight or on the red carpet, shoving mics into the stars' faces. They're the most obvious example of people that are somewhat famous but only because of their degree of separation from their interview subjects. I think we often forget to see these "journalists" as a parasitic group that only survives through gossip.... It seems to me as though many entertainment hosts are hoping to siphon off some of that celebrity glow for themselves.
Because this is a serial, it will take a very long time to see the whole arc. I play a long game. It's funny, because I chose a subject to write about because it makes me angry, but now I'm entrenched in some of the things I hate the most about our culture.
I think it's safe to say that after the incredibly smart and insightful Something Real, The Lexie Project will be just the kind of immersive thought experiment that will get us as readers thinking more about how we consume information, particularly when it comes to the Hollywood machine.