23 September 2010

Author Interview: Yolanda Sfetsos

Yolanda Sfetsos is an Australian author who loves to read and write tales of the otherworldly. Her writing mostly falls under the paranormal and urban fantasy; that includes horror and sci-fi/futuristic as well.

She’s one active storyteller. Let's find out more about her and her latest release Damaged.

  •  Tell us a bit about yourself.
Well, I’m a writer. I live in a suburb of Sydney with my husband, daughter, and cat. I love making stuff up, and have actually been doing that for years now. Telling dark stories that deal with the supernatural is something that I absolutely love doing. I also enjoy torturing my characters a little too much.
I like to keep busy, and usually find myself swamped with stuff to do.
  • When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing stories in my teens. I used to spend a lot of time alone in my room listening to music and reading, so my mind would wander a lot.
Besides, I’d been making up stories in my head since I was a kid, so writing them down was bound to happen. I’ve never looked back.
  • If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I always answer this question the same way—Clive Barker and Stephen King. When I picked up my first Clive Barker book (Cabal), I was instantly hooked. He filled my head with wondrous, yet horrible things that I couldn’t stop thinking about. His writing style grabbed me, and the depth of his characterization is outstanding. I love his work, he’s a master storyteller. Just like Stephen King.
They’re both amazing and led me down the darker path of storytelling.
  • Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Yes, I sometimes find myself totally drawn into the worlds that I create. And I can’t stop going back for more. I really enjoy writing sequels, prequels, and spin-offs.
  • How long does it take you to write a book?
That all depends on the length, but if we’re talking about full-length books (over 50k) I can write the first draft in 4-6 weeks. I write very quick first drafts because once I immerse myself in the story, it literally pours out of me. Then I like to put it aside for a little while, before getting stuck into revision.
The final product takes several months, though. I’m a little superstitious and refuse to share my story until three drafts have been completed.
  • What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Read, collect books, cruise the Internet, research, hang out with hubby and daughter, go for walks, listen to music, watch anime, TV shows, and movies. I also love to play Rock Band, and Mario Kart DS with hubby.
My fave non-writing thing in the world is having hubby and daughter home so we can just hang out.
  • What does your family think of your writing?
Well, my husband is very supportive. He listens to all my happy chatter about ideas, the actual writing, acceptances, new covers, and also helps me through the harder times, when there are rejections that really sting. He’s great to chat to when I’m indecisive about something in particular. Just chatting to him about it helps me sort it out on my own. He also likes to read my stories, which is super cool!
As for my daughter, she loves checking out my covers, and has even helped me figure out a few things as far as characters go. She’s also come up with some titles for me. She’s only ten, but it looks like she’s inherited my crazy overactive imagination, lol.
  • What genre are you most comfortable writing?
Oh my gosh, I’m one of those writers who loves to jump from one genre to another, as well as blend them together. I write urban fantasy, paranormal romance, sci-fi, futuristic, horror, and even YA.
If I had to answer the question as truthfully as I can, I would have to say that I’m most comfortable writing when there’s something supernatural/otherworldly going on.
  • Do you ever come up with anything so wild that you scare yourself, that leaves you wondering where that came from?
Oh, yeah, this has definitely happened to me before. Several times. And each time I just can’t answer the what and why of it. I guess it’s just part of being a person who’s had a love affair with horror for many, many years.
  • The perception of the horror writer is that he/she is just a little bit weirder than most. Do you find yourself — and other horror writers — to be more idiosyncratic than the average person?
Well, I can’t speak for other writers, but I can say that I am a little peculiar and stranger than most. Unlike most people, I don’t see spending time alone as lonely. I see it as a chance to write more. And I see story ideas in just about anything I see in front of me.
I’m also quite happy to spend most of the day at home, too. I’m a little bit of a hermit, except for my daily walks. I must go for a walk every single day… see, there it is. I didn’t mean to, but I just proved myself right. ;)
  • Can you share a little of your current work with us?
My latest release from Damnation Books is a story about an aspiring author caught up in a bad marriage, a plumber who offers hope, a helpful priest, a creepy basement, and a demoness hellbent on getting her way.
It’s a horror story about a woman who thinks she might be losing her mind, but like everything else, there’s always more to the story.
You can find out more about Damaged here: http://www.damnationbooks.com/book.php?isbn=9781615721795
  • How did you come up with the title for your book?
Well, initially I called this novella The Basement because so much of the creepy stuff actually happens in the basement, but when I revised it and delved deeper into what was really affecting the main character, Lane, I realized that so much in her life was damaged. And that really stuck.
  • Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I didn’t go out of my way to embed any sort of message, but I did find that one resonates within the story: how important it is for a person to be happy with their life situation.
There are always going to be negative forces that you can’t control in your life, which I portrayed in the way of a demoness’s effect on Lane’s life, sanity, and marriage, but in real life there are other personal demons we can’t keep from our lives. The one thing we can do is try to overcome them by finding happiness and doing whatever it takes to get there. Things don’t usually fall into your lap. You’ve got to make them happen.
I think it’s important to find happiness. Life’s too short not to.
  • Are there parts of the book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Actually, no. Well, okay, the only thing that’s even closely related to real life is the fact that I’ve always been fascinated by attics and basements. Yet, I’ve never lived in a home with either.
  • If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No, I don’t think so. I think Lane and Bill’s tale is told. I’m very happy with how it turned out, thanks to my excellent editor, Andrea.
  • Where can we find you online?
You can visit my website at www.yolandasfetsos.com to find out what the latest is as far as new contracts, new covers, and new releases are concerned. I also offer a variety of free reads that readers might like to grab for themselves to sample my work.
I also like to hang out at Twitter: http://twitter.com/yolandasfetsos

Yolanda, having you over is always a pleasure. Thank you for stopping by and good luck with your new release.