Interview by Justin Ordoñez, author of Sykosa, Part 1: Junior Year

Publisher: TDS Publishing

Publish Date: March 2012

Order From:  Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kindle

Synopsis: 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.

Author Bio: 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.

Author Interview: 

Q. How did you come up with the idea for Sykosa, Part I: Junior Year?

It feels like I’ve been trying to write Sykosa for my entire life. At first, I just wrote the character. It took a few years before plot really started to work its way into it. I finally figured out what the story was about when I had an idea for what happened “last year.” Unfortunately, I can’t tell you about it because it’s all in Part II! Basically, I didn’t really have a plan for Sykosa. I didn’t outline the story or do character profiles or anything. I sort of let it ride and see where she took me.

Q. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

There is. It is a message of identity—what forms it, what loses it, what allows us to own it. In the book, none of the adults have names, only some of the kids have first names, and only two characters have first and last names. Included in such is that Sykosa actually doesn’t have a name in the Interlude, the middle section of the book. For a stretch of a hundred pages, it’s never used. It’s all related to this mysterious event that happened last year, which changed how everyone perceived themselves, and from it, some gained identities and some lost them.

Q. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?

Thus far, I’ve managed to avoid the revisionist George Lucas-esque drive to fix everything. Since I published the book, I discovered I misunderstood the definition of a word I used in it. Luckily, the sentences make sense both with my misunderstood definition and the correct one, so it hasn’t been bothering me too much. I’ve flipped through the book and read random pages here or there, but I haven’t read it fully. I doubt I ever will.

Q. What was the hardest part of writing your book?

The hardest part of writing it was the Interlude. I thought I had the book finished in 2010 and I went back to re-write the Interlude because it wasn’t working. It took me a year of working on it to finish it, during which many a draft was essentially trashed and I got pretty negative and, dare I say, slightly emo about life, lmao. I never started wearing all black or putting on eye-liner, but I suppose in my head that’s the way I was thinking. Anyhow, I ended up finishing it, and I’m proud of it, so I guess it was worthwhile.

Q. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

Possibly that I never want to write a book again? LOL. Seriously, I learned that I’m kind of a reckless workaholic. I don’t have any balance in my life, and for some reason, I have both desires to gain and ignore that balance. It’s sort of a war inside of me, one I’ve become increasingly aware of, and one that becomes harder to ignore—the further you stretch into your adult years, the more it “feels” like you need a conventional relationship, that you’re cheating humanity if you don’t have one or something. I don’t know if it’s for me, though. I guess if I meet the right woman, who can understand this conflict and understand that she’s not the cause of it, then maybe a personal life will one day be in the cards for me. We’ll see. Anyhow, that’s what I learned from the book.

Q. Did you have a musical playlist you listened to when writing Sykosa, Part I: Junior Year? If so, what kind of music?

I did. Throughout the years, it’s shuffled, but here are the mainstays. The Doves, Kingdom of Rust and Lost Souls. Yoko Kanno, Ghost in the Shell OST I, II, III, IV. Henryk Gorecki, Third Symphony. Spiritualized, Lazer Guided Melodies and Pure Phase. James Horney, A Beautiful Mind OST. It’s a bit of an eclectic mix. I get in different moods when I’m writing. Sometimes I can handle someone singing and their words don’t conflict with those in my head, other times I can’t and I’ve got to go for scores and instrumentals.

Q. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

My interest in writing originated when I was six or seven years old. I was falling behind in my class, having trouble learning how to read and complete math. I remember that some of the first graders in my class were already at a second grade level, which made no sense to me as we’d only be in school for, like, two weeks total—how did they already skip a grade? Well, I know now their parents probably taught them a ton of stuff early. At the time, I assumed I was stupid and got rather upset about it. For some reason, this really centered on reading and writing for me. I became obsessed with reading books, even though I couldn’t do it at all, and I’d stay up at night staring at some of my mother’s fiction books (Danielle Steele and stuff like that) in my room by myself, pretending I could read. One night, as I was “reading” Syndey Sheldon’s “Memories of Midnight,” I was overcome by a notion. I would write a book one day and I’d show those kids I wasn’t stupid.

Literally, that was my start. I don’t know if I’ve really accomplished my goal, and I’m not angry about it any longer, nor do I think I’m stupid, but that was my childhood. Funny story, I actually forgot this memory for maybe 14 of 15 years, then I was overcome by it. It felt both real and false, like maybe I had made it up. Then, I remembered, in the book, I left a bookmark, which I had made in class, when I decided to become a writer, almost like a sign to myself. The next time I was home, I searched through my Mom’s books until I found Memories of Midnight—sure enough, the bookmark was there, waiting for me.

I’ve never read the book, though.

Q. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

This is such a tough question, and it’s tough because I wish I truly had a favorite author. I wish I had found that author who truly speaks to me. It’s never happened, though. I’ve been blessed to encounter many fantastic books in my time, though. When I was 15, my English teacher assigned Black Boy by Richard Wright, and it changed my life—not solely in the long term, reflective way either. I mean, as I was reading it, I could feel my life changing. It’s probably the most potent, powerful piece of literature I’ve ever encountered, though Wright’s not the best “writer” I’ve read, for whatever that means. I really liked Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises but not some of his other works. I’m also a fan of Edward Abbey’s The Fool’s Progress and Jacqueline Susann’s The Valley of the Dolls.

Q. Tell us your latest news.

The latest news is Sykosa, and trying to see if I can somehow get her to connect with readers. I think people will connect with her and her story. At the same time, I think there’s a hesitancy to go on a limb for her, and I think I can understand that. There’s so many things fighting for our souls right now—corporations, politicians, sports teams, religion. Who wants to invest themselves in a piece of art? Really go all out for it like we go all out for the previously mentioned four items? It doesn’t feel as important, which is a dangerous and disastrous thing to both think and feel, but I must admit, even I struggle to separate myself from this idea sometimes.

Q. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I hope you all enjoyed this interview! I try to avoid from being generic or just giving out any old answer, I really want to engage you and entertain you and make your stop off at this blog worth your while, and also try to put an intuition in you that you should give Sykosa a shot—because you should! It’s a good book, and being the author, I’m totally not biased about this, so get it and tell everyone you know about it!

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, You can also find Sykosa, the novel on Amazon. 


  1. thanks for the opportunity to be part of your blog!

    1. You're very welcome! Thanks for joining us today!

  2. Star, thanks for hosting Justin today. What a great interview. Well worth the time to stop and read, that's for sure.


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