Book 27 in the Short Sharp Shocks! series is Yolanda Sfetsos’ Breaking the Habit. Dean and Yolanda recently talked about it...
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: We really loved Breaking The Habit here at Demain...
YOLANDA SFETSOS: Thank you so much! I’m very excited about being included in this very cool series alongside so many great authors.
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: You’re welcome. Can you tell your readers a little more about it?
YS: I’m a huge horror fan, so I love reading and writing about all kinds of monsters. One of those monsters happens to be the werewolf. Late last year, I found a picture online featuring a screaming she-wolf wearing white, and as soon I saw it—Isla’s [the lead character] plight to escape her past popped into my head. I wanted to write my own version of a familiar monster, with plenty of violence and a lot of heartbreak.
DP: I love how creatives receive inspiration. Like you it can be a picture or a song or a sentence...what were the kind of challenges you faced when writing it?
YS: Like all my other stories, the biggest challenge is doing the initial idea justice. It’s very easy for me to see an inspirational pic and come up with an idea that sounds like the coolest thing I’ve ever come up with. But when I sit down to actually write, it just doesn’t come together like I imagined. This happened a few times with this story, but for the most part everything flowed as well as I’d hoped.
DP: Nice one! Would you say any parts of the story were based on your own life?
YS: Luckily, none of the horrible events that happen to Isla and Cisco are based on events in my own life. Everything is pure fiction. Well, except that when my husband and I got married, we did stay in a lovely cottage in the middle of nowhere…
DP: And your writing style?
YS: My writing style is getting the story out of my head and on to the screen as soon as I can. LOL. I let the characters guide me through the story and work obsessively on a first draft until it’s written. The most challenging thing about this kind of writing is that during the revision process, there’s more work involved. But I don’t mind. This is what works for me.
DP: And if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it – so the saying goes. Who influenced you?
YS: I’ve been writing since I was a teenager, so the authors that influenced me the most were S.E. Hinton with her ability to tell a warts and all story about real characters, Clive Barker with his highly imaginative and visceral tales, Stephen King for not being scared to delve into the darkness in the average person, and Mary Shelley because reading Frankenstein changed my life.
DP: I love Frankenstein – in fact I wrote my A-Level thesis about that and James Herbert’s The Magic Cottage...anyway, anyway – what next – what are your current projects?
YS: Right now, I’m working on several projects: a bunch of YA horror novels I have to revise, an adult gothic haunted house novella that I’m really excited about, a demonic-possessed novel that needs revision, and I have a few dark thriller ideas I’d like to try. I’m always working on something.
DP: A lot on – great to see you are busy. I assume then that you don’t suffer from writer’s block?
YS: When I suffer from writer’s block it’s usually because I’ve got TOO many ideas begging for my attention at the same time. Sometimes real-life stuff definitely gets in the way, as well as too much clutter.
DP: So when you start getting the ideas you put together an outline and work from that?
YS: I’m not much of an outline writer. I can’t write a story knowing every single detail that’s going to happen. Instead, I take a LOT of notes before starting a project. I let my mind focus on everything about the idea and write down what comes to mind. The more I jot down, the better the story develops and I know just when to start. After that, it’s just a matter of sitting in front of my laptop, getting started, thinking about the story all the time, and taking more notes.
DP: Which is your favourite genre and did you learn anything from writing Breaking The Habit?
YS: I LOVE writing dark stories about average people getting on with their lives and discovering they might not be that average after all. I also enjoy telling monster stories. So my favourite genre to write is horror, in its many incarnations. I learned something from this story that I pretty much already knew—you can’t run away from your past. It always catches up with you.
DP: True...true. So, if you had to pitch to a film producer...
YS: A couple celebrating their honeymoon in the middle of nowhere find out that isolation can sometimes cause secrets to bubble to the surface, and lead to blood-drenched horror.
DP: Great – and if you were writing a synopsis for a magazine...
YS: Isla wanted to enjoy her honeymoon relaxing on the beach and enjoying cocktails with the love of her life. Instead, she ended up in the middle of the woods inside a cozy cabin, where the past she worked so hard to bury can find and expose her to the beast she’d been desperately trying to escape for years. Now, what should be the best night of her life turns into a bloody fight to stay alive.
DP: And finally, can you tell us something your readers might be surprised to find out about you?
YS: They might be surprised to find out that while I’m a huge horror freak, I don’t like bleak weather and prefer daytime. I’m a summer person and love sunny days.
Don’t we all!
Thanks so much for the chat Yolanda and all the best with Breaking The Habit!
If you would like to connect with Yolanda direct: