It's my pleasure to have Justin Ordoñez on my site today.
Justin, tell us about yourself.
My name’s Justin Ordoñez. I’m author of Sykosa. I’m thirty years old, live in Seattle, Washington, and I’ve been told that I’ve got really great hair. It’s long, black and kinda shapes well around my jaw. I’ve always wanted long hair but my parents convinced me when I was young that women hated long hair on a man, something that I can now confidently report to you is TOTALLY FALSE. I started growing it out when I was 17 and I really like it. It’s the first time I’ve had hair that I feel fits me. Other that that strange tidbit about me, I like playing games on my iPhone or iPad, I’m currently watching The Wonder Years on Netflix streaming, and I just saw the episode where Kevin and Winnie have their first kiss. It was really touching for me because the background music is Elton John’s “Seasons” from the little known Friends soundtrack. It’s such a beautiful song, and every time I’ve heard it, I’ve thought of my first love, so it was a strange moment where art became something incredibly real and true for me.
Do you prefer
Milk chocolate or Dark?
Used to be milk, but it’s dark now for sure. I think that’s a sign you’re a grown up.
Coke or Pepsi?
I’m one of those rare people who switches, but while I’m currently on the Coke bandwagon, the majority of my life I’ve been a Pepsi guy.
Almond Joy or Mounds?
Neither. I only like chewy candies, tbh.
Romance or a Thriller?
Thriller. I’m a guy like that.
Mystery or Horror?
Mystery, hands down.
Did you always want to be an author?
Yeah, I sorta did. I just really wanted to write. I was really insecure about my struggles learning how to read and write when I was young and I thought that writing something really awesome would prove all those insecurities wrong. I didn’t really write at first because I loved it, it was a tool for me to get back at all the smarter kids who were getting by so much easier than I was.
What authors had an impact on you growing up and as an adult?
Growing up I got exposed to a lot of great authors like Shel Silverstein, Roald Dahl, RL Stein, lots of things that get kids excited about reading. I was a huge fan of Garfield and I loved everything about the cartoon strip. I owned all the compilation books and I would read them nightly and just chuckle. It’s strange because I never got into Peanuts, Family Circus, Calvin and Hobbs or any of the other really big cartoon strips, to this day, I’ve only liked Garfield and I consider Jim Davis to be the absolute best at it. As I got older, authors made an impression on me, though I’ve never read an author obsessively like I would when I was young. I tend to study fiction when I’m reading it now instead of enjoying it, so it’s not as fun. I read a lot of non-fiction, though.
Did anyone in your life influence you or encouraged you to be a writer? (teacher, family member, friend)
I had a few great teachers who were really there for me as I was finding myself as a writer. Bill Boyle, Cindy Boughner, and Bruce Kezlarian. They all were interested in my work and they supported me in one way or another. Actually, to this day all three support me. I had other great teachers, but in terms of writing, these were the Holy Trinity for me.
What is your writing atmosphere like?
I write anywhere for however long I can manage. I just need some tunes playing in my ears, that’s the only requirement.
Your current book your promoting is:
Sykosa (that’s “sy”-as-in-“my” ko-sa).
It’s a story about a sixteen-year-old girl who’s 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.
It developed over several years. Some things from desire, some things for necessity. I wanted the story to be radically unique in execution, so I used innovative narration technique and character profiles (especially for teenagers), but I put it in a very stereo-typical school, using very predictable and time-tested clichés, like the hard-ass Vice-Principal, the apathetic teacher you wish inspired you, groups, bullying, things like that. It creates a kind of tension in the book that seems to have both really entertained people and driven some near insanity, particularly at the cliff hanger ending!
How do you choose your characters names?
I’m not a huge fan of the name choosing process. Sometimes I just pick a name and write it until the character decides for him/herself what the name should be. Sykosa was always Sykosa, but Niko was at first Miko (a more traditional Japanese name), but Niko didn’t like that. Mackenzie’s name used to be Molly, which I hated from the start, and I couldn’t have been more grateful when Mackenzie jumped into my brain one day. Usually, I have to know a lot about the character and then a great name representing them comes to mind.
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/
Outside, the sun shines. Inside, there’s only darkness. The blackness is hard to describe, as it’s more than symptoms. It’s a nothing that becomes everything there is. And what one sees is only a fraction of the trauma inflicted. It can get so bad she literally goes black, and she wakes up seconds, minutes, hours—who knows—later, to the silence, and the shame, and the… The blackness is really a panic-attack. She thinks that’s its medical definition. She’s never consulted anyone about it, but she heard a daytime TV personality talking about it once and all the hairs stood on up on her neck and she thought, That’s me. The TV personality said trauma plays a significant role. That made her feel broken, so she decided not to listen anymore and to pretend like nothing was wrong. That’s why no one knows about the blackness—her pretending won’t let them.
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
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.
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