Today I have Justin Ordoñez visiting The Life and Lies for his book tour for Sykosa.
Sykosa (sigh-co-suh) is a junior in high school. She belongs to an exclusive clique of girls called the "Queens." The leader is her best friend Niko. Their friendship has been strained lately because Tom—Sykosa's first boyfriend—has gotten all serious about making her his pretty Prom princess. That is if he ever gets around to asking her. Before Prom, there's a party at Niko's cottage where parental supervision will be nil. He wants to have sex. She doesn't. He sometimes acts like that doesn't matter.
Sykosa has a secret she has never told anyone about. Although, some people—Tom included—know anyway. It happened last year and it was big and she'll cry if she talks about it so she's done talking about it, okay? Never mind, it's nobody's business. Except it keeps happening, and it never stops. She doesn't want to deal with it. He does. She sometimes acts like that doesn't matter.
Chat with the Author
What inspired you to write your book?
A mix of things. When I was in high school, I attended a second school called Model High School which allowed for a student to set his/her own curriculum. My English teacher asked me to come with one goal for improvement as a writer. My goal was to write women better. It wasn’t so much that my female characters were bad, it was that I didn’t have the same confidence in their execution as I did my male characters, which I think is understandable. That challenge stuck with me into my adult life and sort of spun off into Sykosa.
How did you come up with the title?
It’s just my character’s name, and that seems appropriate, both for the story and because
contemporarily that is how things have worked. When you look at a lot of contemporary media about young women, often the title is the name of the character. For television, Buffy and Veronica Mars are standing out to me. The identity of the female protagonist becomes as much a draw as the plot itself.
What’s the most exciting part about being a published author? What is the hardest part?
It’s exciting to know people you’ve never met are getting the chance to look at your work. I suppose that’s what it’s all about. The hardest part is also that these people are looking at your work. It’s an up/down experience, and because today’s market requires you to be so involved and hyper-aware of everything that’s going on, you can’t simply shut it out and say, “I won’t let it affect me.”
Do you have any other books planned in the future?
I’m always toying around with a few ideas and I’m always actively writing something. Without a doubt, I’ll finish up Sykosa, and there’s some stuff I’ve stuck away for rainy days. I try not to plan too much, though. I’m someone who really has to feel free and non-attached to my art. I like to know it can take me over if it needs to, and that I can totally destroy needs be.
Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?
My favorite is probably Niko. Sykosa, the main character, and I have this relationship where I kind of think of her like a daughter, but she doesn’t treat me like a father. There’re some formalities and tension there. Niko and I are buds. We have a lot of fun together. Niko’s very outgoing and more than a little vain. She likes it when I write about her, and she likes it when the story becomes about her, so she goes the distance to ensure her scenes are extra special. In that way, she’s extremely cooperative for being so rebellious. I don’t think I dislike any of my characters. Over time, I’m come to empathize and understand them all, though I think a character like Donna Harly needs a lot of help.
What advice can you give to young writers who want to publish their books?
Don’t want to publish your book. Write something that’s totally un-publishable and true to yourself. Write something insane and illogical. It’s hard to understand what I’m going to say, especially when you’re young and inexperienced with adult politics, but the industry is full of self-reaffirming careerists right now. They all operate in tight social circles, they all worship and get close to the same set of agents, who in turn work with the same editors… It’s become incestuous and full of cronyism. In such environments, one usually sees stifled creativity and slow growth.
Just for fun:
What are your ten most favorite things?
Writing, Plants vs. Zombies, Mario Kart, swimming, cycling, karaoke, napping, reading, the NBA, and visiting home.
What are your favorite (and least favorite) foods?
I like sushi, teriyaki, pho, American, and mint chocolate chip ice cream. I don’t have a type of food I dislike, though my stomach struggles with Italian and Indian food these days, so I’ve curtailed.
If you could go anywhere in the whole world, either for a vacation or to live there, where would you go?
Hawaii. Just looks beautiful, plus I think I’ve got some island in me.
Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.
Both my mother and I have a baby tooth with no adult tooth underneath it, so the baby tooth never fell out. My dentist thinks it’s very cute and she heckles me about it (in a fun way).
Justin Ordoñez wrote a book called Sykosa. It’s about a sixteen year old girl who’s trying to reclaim
her identity after an act of violence destroys her life and the lives of her friends. You can find out more
about Justin at his blog, http://sykosa.wordpress.com. You can also find Sykosa, on Amazon.
Justin is giving away a $50 gift card to one randomly-chosen commenter on the tour! leave a comment for your chance to win, and check out the tour page for the other tour stops!