{Interview} Breaking The Habit: Yolanda Sfetsos talks to Kendall Reviews.

Yolanda Sfetsos lives in Sydney, Australia with her awesome, supportive gamer husband and neurotic, photogenic kitty.

When she’s not writing or reading up a storm, she’s either out walking, watching a movie or TV show, checking thrift stores for bargain books, or thinking about the new dark ideas fighting for attention.

Breaking The Habit

All Isla wanted to do was enjoy her honeymoon.

She was looking forward to relaxing on the beach and enjoying cocktails with the love of her life.

Instead, she ends up in the middle of the woods in a cosy cabin, where the past she’s worked so hard to bury can find her.

Turning what should be the best night of her life, into a bloody fight to stay alive. 

KR: Coffee?

KR: Could you tell me a little about yourself please?

Well, I live in a suburb of Sydney, Australia with my husband and kitty. I also have a daughter who is currently living halfway across the world. I start my days before most people are awake and I walk a lot. I love walking.

I’ve been writing since I was a teenager, and have always spent a lot of my time daydreaming about stories. I’m also a collector of many things, especially books and stationery and toys.

KR: What do you like to do when not writing?

If I’m not writing, I’m probably reading. Or like I said above, walking. We don’t have a car, so if we want to go somewhere, we usually walk. Public transport is also an option, but walking wins every time.

We love thrifting. Hubby and I are always on the lookout for books and games. We also enjoy playing Rock Band and Guitar Hero, or watching our favourite shows in the games room.

KR: What is your favourite childhood book?

I would have to say The Twits by Roald Dahl. I loved that book when I was a kid and read it so many times!

KR: What is your favourite album, and does music play any role in your writing?

Oh, that’s a hard one because I don’t have just the one. I cycle through all the My Chemical Romance, Linkin Park and 30 Seconds to Mars albums. Their music has sparked so many story ideas. There’s just something about these bands that truly connects with me.

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So, yes, music does play a role in my writing.

KR: Do you have a favourite horror movie/director? 

I can’t name just the one movie because I have too many slasher faves—Jason, Michael, Freddy—but I will mention The Lost Boys. I was obsessed with that movie when I was a teenager.

As far as directors go, I love Wes Craven and John Carpenter. There are more, but these two always come to mind.

KR: What are you reading now?

Right now, I’m reading IT by Stephen King. This is my first time, and it’s quite a trek. But I’m enjoying it so much that I don’t care how long it takes me to read. This is definitely one of those books I highly recommend people put on their reading list.

KR: What was the last great book you read?

I’ve read quite a few awesome books this year. The ones that stand out right now are Teeth in the Mist by Dawn Kurtagich, Season of the Witch by Sarah Rees Brennan and The Mind’s Plague and Other Bites of Brutality by Morgan K Tanner.

KR: E-Book, Paperback or Hardback?

I’m an equal opportunity book format enthusiast. I have a lot of paperbacks, hardbacks and continually read on my Paperwhite. Plus, I have a Kobo.

Yeah, as long as it’s a book I’m not fussy.

KR: Who were the authors that inspired you to write?

Clive Barker and Mary Shelley ultimately inspired my writing. When I read Frankenstein in high school, I loved it, and discovering Clive Barker’s visceral, beautiful writing inspired me to push the limits of how dark I was willing to go.

KR: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?

When I get an idea, I start putting together an inspirational folder on my phone with pics and research. I also take a lot of notes and think about the story all the time. When the beginning finally comes to me, I usually do a very loose chapter plan and get writing.

By the time I start the actual writing, that’s when everything comes together. The characters and story take over, and usually take me to unexpected places…

Although, having said all this. Every story is different. A short story I recently wrote refused to speak to me. No matter how long I thought about what was going to happen, nothing came until I actually sat down and started typing.

Yeah, this writing thing can be a little strange.

KR: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

That depends on the story. Sometimes I have to do a lot of research before I can even think about starting. Others need only a little bit. While most need ongoing research. Either way, I love research, so I don’t mind. 🙂

KR: How would you describe your writing style?

My writing style is… uh, that’s a good question. My style is treading the line between light and dark, always tipping closer to the shadows.

KR: Describe your usual writing day?

After getting back from my early morning walk, I have a cup of tea and a snack to power my brain. Then, I switch my laptop on and get stuck into it. I write most of the morning, stop for lunch, and squeeze another hour or two. If I’m working on a first draft, I find myself stuck behind the laptop longer than when I’m revising.

By the time my husband gets home, I’m done for the day. I like to write between 2-4k words each day. And take the weekends off.

KR: Do you have a favourite story/short you’ve written (published or not)?

I have a few of those, but the one that strikes me at the moment is a strange short story I wrote late last year. It’s macabre and weird, a surreal gothic tale I’m very proud of. Yet, it hasn’t been published yet.

KR: Do you read your book reviews?

Yep. I know it’s probably best not to, but I’m curious about what people think and have to take a peek. Besides, it’s awesome when I read a review that totally gets my story. But that’s all I do, read and move right along.

KR: How do you think you’ve developed as an author?

The more I write, the better my grasp of character and story mechanics gets. I also find that the more stories I tell, the deeper my connection becomes with the written word. The only way to develop as an author is to keep writing.

KR: What is the best piece of advice you’ve received regarding your writing?

Asides from write, write, write and read, read, read—because the more you do both of these, the more you learn and grow—it would have to be to never give up.

KR: What scares you?

I’m a kid of the 80s, so I’m going to have to go with nuclear war. Yeah, one never forgets the scars that decade left on the kids who lived with this fear drummed into them every single day of their lives. Of course, watching and reading movies and books about this subject didn’t help.

Oh, and quicksand. I don’t think I’ve ever lived anywhere near quicksand, but there you have it.

The 80s has a lot to answer for, I reckon. 😊

KR: Can you tell me about your latest release please?

My latest release is called Breaking the Habit. And yes, that is named after a Linkin Park song.

This story is about a newlywed couple who end up staying in a cabin in the middle of nowhere. The groom wanted to surprise her with a nice dose of isolation. The bride wanted to get as far away from the woods as possible. And one of them is hiding a dark secret that puts both in grave danger. It’s dark, heartbreaking, quite bloody and I had a blast writing it.

It’s also very cool to be part of the Short Sharp Shocks! series, with so many other great authors.

KR: What are you working on now?

I just finished working on two short stories. The supernatural thriller was an idea about an older character I just had to write, and the urban legend story needed one last proofreading. So, now it’s time to get thinking about writing something longer.

I think it’s time to get back to that gothic horror I started a few months ago. I’m still not sure if it will end up becoming a novella or novel…

KR: You find yourself on a desert island, which three people would you wish to be deserted with you and why?

Oh gosh, I suck at these things. I can never think of anyone…

You can choose…

  1. One fictional character from your writing.

Trina Martin. She’s a character from a trilogy I wrote several years ago. She’s a survivor, so it would be very cool to have her on a deserted island.

  1. One fictional character from any other book.

We’re on an island, so we’re going to have to go with Diana Prince. Wonder Woman would definitely know how to survive on an island, right?

  1. One real-life person that is not a family member or friend.

Damn, I wanted the real-life person to by my hubby… but that’s not allowed. LOL.

Okay, let’s say one of my most favourite storytellers, because life on a deserted island can probably get pretty boring and you need someone to tell stories. Yep. That’s it. But I refuse to name any names. 😉

KR: Thank you Yolanda

Yolanda Sfetsos

You can visit her website: www.yolandasfetsos.com, find her on Twitter: @yolandasfetsos and check out her reading habits on Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/yolandasfetsos

Breaking The Habit

All Isla wanted to do was enjoy her honeymoon.

She was looking forward to relaxing on the beach and enjoying cocktails with the love of her life.

Instead, she ends up in the middle of the woods in a cosy cabin, where the past she’s worked so hard to bury can find her.

Turning what should be the best night of her life, into a bloody fight to stay alive. 

You can buy Breaking The Habit from Amazon UKAmazon US

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