Yolanda describes herself as a Wife. Mother. Writer. Bibliophile. Dreamer. Animal lover. Intrigued by the supernatural. Horror freak. Zombie enthusiast. Movie & music fan. Slave to her muse. She lives in Sydney, Australia with her awesome husband, lovely daughter, and cheeky cat. You can learn more about her books and projects at her website, following her on twitter, or checking out her goodreads.
It was just about a year ago when I first interviewed Yolanda Sfetsos. We talked about urban fantasy, science fiction romance, and her Recast series which was being reprinted by Samhain Publishing. In the last year, Sfetsos has published the fourth book in the Recast series, finished her Sierra Fox series, and started a new spin off series. I knew it was time to catch up with her again!
Let’s get to the interview!
Andrea Johnson: Congratulations on the announcement of your forthcoming novel, Hell Of A Ride! To bring readers up to speed, Hell Of A Ride features Lavie Grye, a demon hunter from your Sierra Fox series. When did you realize Lavie needed her own novel? What’s the premise of Hell of a Ride?
I knew Lavie was going to get her own story somewhere between finishing Sierra Fox Book 3 and starting Book 4. Because there was so much going on in Sierra’s story, a lot about Lavie couldn’t be uncovered, so when I finished Book 5 and Lavie started whispering in my ear… I started taking notes.
While I was writing the first draft, this is how I described Hell of a Ride on my blog:
Lavie’s book is going to be a road trip story: kick-ass demon hunter with a bunch of issues, hunky demon with mischief on his mind, a gorgeous red and black VW Kombi, and a whole LOT of demonic trouble.
I really enjoyed writing her story because I had a chance to feature some very cool locations situated between Sydney and Melbourne. Plus I researched Aleister Crowley, the occult, and the many demons in The Goetia: The Lesser Key of Solomon the King. I incorporated and manipulated a lot of that research into Lavie’s book. Fun times!
AJ: The Sierra Fox series has five novels, and your Recast series has four novels (hopefully with more to come!) I want to pick your brain about writing long series. How do you keep track of everything that’s happened in previous novels? How do you avoid burn-out with characters or worlds?
YS: Let me start by saying that yes, there will be two more Recast books. I plan to write them this year, and that will end the series. Though there might be a spin-off book featuring a character that was introduced in the third book. Maybe. 😉
I create a Series Bible to keep track of everything, as well as book summaries. It also helps to take a LOT of notes, write down all the snippets and ideas that strike out of nowhere, and then loosely outline what each book is going to be about and who it’s going to feature. I’m more a pantser than a plotter, but I do a lot of brainstorming and note taking.
So far, I haven’t written a series that’s ongoing with no end in sight. I prefer to a set the amount of books before getting too deep into the series. There’s nothing worse than writing or reading a series when the characters have lost their spark.
AJ: When we talked last summer, you mentioned the fourth novel in your Recast series, Dash. Well, nearly a year has gone by, and Dash is now on bookstore shelves! What can you tell us about this new novel? Any chance readers new to the Recast series could jump in here?
YS: Thanks! Yes, Dash is now out in the wild and I’m SO happy. Yay. This is what I’ve been calling my Robot Love Story since the moment I started writing it because it features an AI who’s briefly appeared in a previous book, and a heroine who might be more than human.
Yeah, I think new readers could definitely read any one of the Recast books out of sequence or just one in particular. While I do have some characters appear in multiple books, each book features a different couple and some take place around the same time but from different POVs.
Taylor [from Dash] sounds awesome. She kicks butt and takes no prisoners. Well, except that she’s a prisoner herself. Not only is she trapped in the arena, but she’s trapped in ignorance – with secrets circling about her past. Tell us a little about how you developed her character?
YS: I love Taylor! I wanted to create a strong character with unexplained extraordinary skills and strength other humans don’t have, without her knowing the how and why. She’s also mouthy, has an attitude and doesn’t take crap from anyone. Her memories are patchy, so she doesn’t remember anything about her life before the arena. She’s pretty sure she’s just another human woman who was stolen away and dumped in the Clash Arena, and all she knows how to do is fight to survive. But the fact she’s the only female who continually wins is enough to make her hope she’ll one day escape and find out who she is.
She’s definitely a prisoner while inside the arena, but the first chance she gets at freedom, she takes it. It’s just too bad that pesky AI chases her…
AJ: Changing gears a little. . . While perusing your website, I saw that you’ve read a lot of She-Hulk, and The Walking Dead. What makes a great graphic novel/comic? What graphic novels would you recommend to someone new to the comic shop?
YS: I love reading as much as I love writing, and I’m definitely not fussy about the format. I read in a variety of genres and formats. Comic books are a lovely visual way of telling a story and I enjoy them a lot. I’m a fan of She-Hulk so I couldn’t resist reading some of her comic books. And The Walking Dead is a long comic book series that is completely different from the TV show and still manages to surprise me.
For me, it’s all about the story. I love a good combination of action, horror, romance and intrigue. Oh, and pretty illustrations.
I would definitely recommend the She-Hulk series by Charles Soule and The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman. Plus, Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman—which I read years ago. I’ve also read some Hellblazer and Hellboy, so they’re worth checking out.
Right now I’m reading the Alias Omnibus featuring Jessica Jones by Michael Bendis, and I’m really enjoying it. I’m a sucker for a PI story. Another series I started is Saga. So far I’ve read the first volume and hope to get back to it after Alias.
As you can tell, I mostly read horror, supernatural or superhero comic books.
AJ: Who are some of your favorite authors? What makes their writing stand out to you?
YS: My all-time faves are Clive Barker and Stephen King because they shaped so much of my reading and writing habits. They’re both masters of their shared genre and will always be at the top of my list. I got into both back in my teens and just loved the easy way their stories hooked me in. They still do.
I do have other authors that I auto-buy/read: Charlaine Harris, Carrie Vaughn, Rachel Caine, Janet Evanovich and Patricia Briggs, to name a few. If the characters and story sucks me in, it doesn’t take long for me to become a loyal fan.
I’m always on the lookout for new mystery, thriller, horror, SF, and urban fantasy books that sound interesting.
AJ: What are some of your favorite books that you’ve read recently?
YS: Oooh, this is a hard question because I’ve read some really cool books this year, but here are some of the ones that I’ve enjoyed recently:
Finders Keepers by Stephen King, The Novice by Taran Matharu All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab, Pretty Little Dead Girls by Mercedes M Yardley, Cinder and Scarlet by Marissa Meyer, Undead by Kirsty McKay, Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake, The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist, and Servants of the Storm by Delilah S Dawson.
These are just a few of the books I’ve enjoyed, and I’m sure I’ll enjoy many more.
Thanks for having me over!
AJ: thanks for the interview!