BLURB: Sykosa (that’s “sy”-as-in-”my” ko-sa) is a sixteen-year-old girl trying to reclaim her identity after an act of violence shatters her life and the life of her friends. This process is complicated by her best friend, Niko, a hyper-ambitious, type-A personality who has started to war with other girls for social supremacy of their school, a prestigious preparatory academy in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. To compensate, Sykosa has decided to fall in love with her new boyfriend, Tom, who was involved in the act of violence. Propelled by survivor guilt, an anxiety disorder, and her hunger for Tom and his charms, Sykosa attends a weekend-long, unchaperoned party at Niko’s posh vacation cottage, where she will finally confront Niko on their friendship, her indecision about her friends and their involvement in the act of violence, and she will make the biggest decision of her life—whether or not she wants to lose her virginity to Tom. YA fiction for the 18+ crowd.
She knows her parents are debating any number of topics. Maybe they want to talk to her about sex. Or what love is really like. Or, if they feel bold, they want to explain how life, unlike what they’ve presented thus far, is a cold and lonely place, and they’re a tad worried she’s learned this too soon. Possibly they want to get really specific. They want to tell her how sometimes bad things happen and, yes, it brings people together, but it can also create attachments that, while not bad, are not by such automatically positive. And they fear this has happened to her, and that this boy, Tom, who seemed like an alright guy when he picked her up, may be inadvertently, and by no fault of his own, prolonging her pain and intensifying her suffering.None of it gets said.They think: She’s only sixteen. Kids don’t feel things that serious, and I’m projecting my emotions on her. I shouldn’t put these thoughts in her head. Besides, other than the occasional second, she seems happy, and okay with life, so let her be a kid and…The problem’s I’m no “kid.”
My Interview with Justin Ordoñez
BHC: Tell us a little about yourself.
Justin: My name is Justin Ordoñez, I live in Seattle, Washington, I’m thirty years old, I like to write, and I eat religiously at the same two restaurants. Routine has always been a serious part of my life, though strangely I think most people would describe me as spontaneous. Suffice it to say, I’m my most spontaneous when I’m in a daily routine where spontaneity is factored in, if that makes sense. I nearly graduated from the University of Washington in Political Science, but I dropped out to finish my novel Sykosa.
BHC: Did you plan to be a writer or did it just happen?
Justin: I wanted to be a writer when I was very young. For years, I just kind of did it because it filled in the boredom in life. I had parents who were super type-A types. They’re always going something and I found, going into my teen years, that I was unable to just sit around and do nothing. I always had to be doing something. Writing kept my mind busy, it was fun, and I enjoyed it. I’ve never had the same ambition as my parents, but I definitely had work ethic, and writing gave me a vent for that.
BHC: What is your favorite non-writing pastime?
Justin: I like watching the NBA. I play in a fantasy basketball league with 9 or 10 friends. I watch the play-offs every year religiously, no matter who is playing. I just love the sport of basketball. I think it’s really poetic how it’s played, so creative and technical at the same time, and such grace at the same time. I loved playing basketball when I was young, so I have an idea of how hard it is to do the stuff you see on TV, and I appreciate the special talent it takes to make it that far.
BHC: When did you decide to take that step that made you a published author?Justin: I think it kind of choose itself for me. I had worked on Sykosa for several years. It was something I was very committed to. It was obvious I cared about it and even my practiced apathy couldn’t dissuade even a passerby of my love for the book. I guess I published it half because I felt a need to, half because that’s what you’re “supposed” to do. I suppose I also wanted to try it, but I’m not sure if I want to be a full time writer. Ironically, I think the writing would suffer.
BHC: What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Have you been able to overcome it?
Justin: My greatest challenge was writing the Interlude to Sykosa. An Interlude is a story in the middle of the story. It’s not as commonly used in fiction writing, but it’s a fun thing in a book if it’s handled correctly. I wrote a blog about my suffering over the Interlude, it’s one of my most popular posts. http://sykosa.wordpress.com/2012/07/15/an-interlude-to-die-for-includes-pictures/
Questions about the Book and Characters:
BHC: If you had to sum it up (title of book) in 30 or less words, what would you say?
Justin: Sykosa is a book about a girl who’s trying to reclaim her identity after an act of violence destroy her life and the lives of her friends.
BHC: What inspired the idea behind your book?
Justin: It was a natural development for me. At first, I just wanted to write women better, so I decided to start writing female protagonists. That challenge kind of stuck with me. Soon, I started adding a specific setting for the events, a specific date range, starting to have the characters play off of each other. I always knew I wanted Sykosa to be in Sykosa, but I didn’t always know what I wanted to happen while she was there.
BHC: Do you have a favorite character in (name of book)? Who and why?
Justin: Yeah, I do. I really love Niko. She’s super outgoing and a bit egocentric. When it’s Niko’s time to shine in the book, Niko goes the extra mile to be special. She loves the attention and she loves being a part of the novel. I don’t have to “try” when I write Niko, it’s very natural. On the other hand, Sykosa is more shy and reserved. It takes her a while to get comfortable with sharing things about herself. She’s not looking for that “love” from the audience like Niko is.
BHC:Without giving it all away, please tell us a little something about how (main character) is going to get through their biggest challenge.
Justin: The main character will get through the challenge by facing reality instead of using the excuses her religion, her family, her school, and her political beliefs provide her. She will have to break free from the agenda setting of those who “care” for her and discover what she truly thinks and feels.
BHC: Will you share with us a short preview of (title of book)?
Justin: Yes, absolutely I can. I actually have 40 pages of it up on http://www.sykosa.com so you can read some of it. It’s fully formatted like the book, so it’s just like looking at one of the pages.
BHC: What message do you hope readers take away from the book?
Justin: I hope the reader can gain some compassion from the book, and can come to understand how complicated situations arise from trifle human bickering. Part of what causes most human conflict is the belief that you’re above behaving as shallowly as your peers, that you’re not that kind of human being and you can’t believe others are. It’s only when you accept that you’re every bit as dirty as those around you that you begin to see problems for what they are, and truly get a sense of the devastation you’ve caused others and were probably either unaware of or unwilling to take responsibility for, and that includes cowardice, which means doing nothing in a situation where you should’ve because you thought if you didn’t get involved, no one could get angry at you.
Hey! 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, the novel on Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007N709IG/
REVIEW SOUND BYTES”… gritty, intense and definitely not a book I’ll forget anytime soon! It was so differently written. I wouldn’t have expected to fall in love with the writing style but I did. It practically made me get under Sykosa’s skin despite getting a dose of the perspectives of the other characters and there were parts that were so lyrical.” ~ On Books
“Justin Ordonez’s debut novel, Sykosa Part 1: Junior Year, disproves the old saw that youth is wasted on the young. He adroitly delves into the minds and social lives of his titular sixteen-year-old protagonist and her peers, showing that young people wrestle with tough decisions just like adults do.” ~Clarion ForeWord Reviews
“Sykosa makes for some compelling reading. Older teens and adults alike will enjoy Ordoñez’s tale for its humor, realism and relatable protagonist.” ~ Kirkus Indie Review
AUTHOR INFORMATION:Justin Ordoñez was born in Spain, raised in the mid-west, and currently lives in Seattle. He’s nearly thirty years old, almost graduated from the University of Washington, and prefers to wait until TV shows come out on DVD so he can watch them in one-shot while playing iPad games. For fifteen years, he has written as a freelance writer, occasionally doing pieces as interesting as an editorial, but frequently helping to craft professional documents or assisting in the writing of recommendation letters for people who have great praise for friends or colleagues and struggle to phrase it. Sykosa is his debut novel.
PRIZE INFORMATIONJustin will be giving away a $50 gift card to one randomly drawn commenter at the end of the tour.