The Next Big Thing December 24, 2012Posted by William Kostakis in Random Musings.
Tags: Fiona Wood, Jennifer Lawrence, Lili Wilkinson, Simmone Howell, Steph Bowe, Susan Green, Tim Sinclair, William Kostakis
Merry Christmas Eve!
After spending 18-odd months away being an adult (it’s not all it’s cracked up to be) and writing my new book (more on that in a sec), I’m back.
I was hoping to begin blogging regularly in the new year, when I had a new website that had significantly fewer pictures of my face on it, but I’ve been tagged in The Next Big Thing meme, so plans be damned, I’m back early.
What is The Next Big Thing? Well, an author answers a series of questions about an upcoming release. They then tag up to five other authors who have to answer those same questions the following week. They tag five others and it goes on and on until the end of time (Tim Sinclair calls it an author pyramid scheme, and he’s not wrong).
I was tagged by Simmone Howell (author of the exquisite Everything Beautiful and the upcoming Girl Defective). And just FYI, she also tagged Susan Green, Lili Wilkinson, Kate Constable and Fiona Wood who are all worth checking out as well.
Right, here goes.
What is the working title of your next book?
My book is called The First Third. That was its original working title. I experimented with some others (Moussaka, The Wish List), but I kept coming back to The First Third. There was just something about it.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
Whenever I visit schools, I always pepper my presentations with anecdotes and life experiences. The ones that get the best reactions are the ones about my grandmother, Yiayia Susie. She’s your typical, I-came-on-a-boat-and-haven’t-changed-since Greek grandmother (see this). When I talk about her, rooms just light up. I wanted to capture that experience.
That was my starting point. I wanted to write a book about my grandmother. I mined our history, and I extracted the most dramatic piece – she almost died almost ten years ago. At the same time, I had this kernel of an idea I was saving for a Loathing Lola 2. I’d always kept the details of Katie Watson’s family secret, knowing that I wanted to return one day with a sequel that explored it. The plan was to have Katie’s grandmother, close to death, visit from England and start forcing her will on their family, like she was cleaning up her mess before she left.
And then these two ideas, the story of my own yiayia and Katie’s, merged into what became The First Third.
What genre does your book fall under?
It’s a young-adult comedy.
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
On her deathbed, Billy’s grandmother gives him her bucket list to complete and her requests are a little… unorthodox.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
The First Third is slated for release by Penguin in May 2013.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
On-and-off for six months. About two months of writing time.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
So yeah, that’s The First Third. There’s no telling whether it’ll be the next big thing, or even the next moderately sized thing, but it is a thing and I’m insanely proud of it and it will be out in May 2013.
I hope the holidays treat you well, an have a happy, healthy and prosperous new year. I’ll be around more often, promise.
To save a text: Loathing Lola & feminism July 16, 2011Posted by William Kostakis in Random Musings, Reviews, Shits Me To Tears.
Tags: feminism, Loathing Lola
I stumbled on an especially negative review of Loathing Lola this morning (it only scored one love heart out of a possible five) and I shared it with friends. Laughs were had, mostly at my expense, then one of my mates (loyalty +1, career helpfulness -20) posted his thoughts anonymously on the reviewer’s blog. As a reviewer who’s had the FOWs (friends/family/fans of the writer) come at me with anonymous comments, and someone who’s heard about particularly prickly FOW experiences, I have to stress, before I continue, while I will link to the review, please don’t bombard the blog post (mine, or the reviewer’s) with negative, anonymous comments.
As a reviewer and a lover of textual analysis, I love discussing works, and, as a former third-speaker debater, challenging others’ reactions to them. But let’s keep it about the words, not the person.
English was my favourite subject in high school, so much so that when it came to university, completing an English major was a no-brainer. To say I quickly became disenchanted with it is understating the fact, considerably. Why? The over-readers. Not only did they waste tutorial time to offload their ridiculous textual interpretations, filled with big words that end with -ism, but they were applauded for their interpretations.
I remember a Third Year once claimed all of Shakespeare’s plays were ultimately about homosexuality and the transgender condition. Yes, we’ve all read Sonnet 20, we know Mr Shakes has dealt with male-male attraction, but seriously… this is drawing the bow exceptionally long. I was mortified, I turned to the tutor, expecting the Third Year to get shut down, but no, the tutor nodded encouragingly.
The Third Year then pointed out that all the women were played by men on stage. I was stumped. These were the theatrical conventions of the time! While yes, I’ll concede that some elements would have played very differently with males inhabiting the female roles, it doesn’t impact the meaning of the text itself, in much the same way that Eddie Murphy playing overweight women in The Klumps doesn’t make it a commentary on contemporary transgendered life.
Over-readers are everywhere. Some are at uni, some are at the movies, some are in libraries, and some have blogs. And sometimes, we need to save texts from them. Sometimes, we need to save texts we spent the majority of our life crafting…
I’ll be honest, reading it, I was baffled. The reviewer acknowledged the novel’s major themes (misrepresentation of ‘reality’ in reality TV and manipulation more broadly in the media), but then, saw the novel’s representation of females as overshadowing/contradicting the message:
Kostakis’s characters are just as stereotypical and anti-feminist as those presented by television programs such as ‘Big Brother’. His protagonist is fine – if rather dull – but the women around her are highly problematic… So many of my issues with this book were explained when I discovered that the author was only nineteen when it was published… This is a boy’s view of women and girls, poorly hidden behind a female protagonist.
Love the way the reviewer deftly (and without apparent irony) explains away the novel’s “problematic” representation of women by noting my gender and age. I mean, no seventeen-year-old, let alone a seventeen-year-old boy, could possibly have purposefully littered his novel with stereotypical representations of both men and women, showing a reality filled with ‘reality TV’-style personalities in a bid to challenge the definition of ‘reality TV’ as representative of reality.
What makes Lola‘s representation of women different to, say, Twilight‘s representation of men (which readers of my blog will know I had a massive problem with)? Perspective. Since its release, I have stressed that Loathing Lola is a satire, and the tone, from the first chapter, establishes it as a heightened reality, teetering the fine line between absurdity and reality. Where Twilight was, as Stephanie Meyer has said, based on a ‘dream’, a fantasy, encouraging girls to fight over which kind of abusive boyfriend (muscled or thin) they liked more, Loathing Lola was me venting about the dumbing down of TV, and my own fears that it would leak into reality, that the behaviours represented would be idolised, and then, reinacted. The book is my fear, realised. The characterisation within the novel isn’t a contradiction of its message, but rather, a way to make it more emphatic.
It’s also used to emphasise that manipulation sometimes goes both ways (in the same way that the media can misrepresent their subjects, their subjects can misrepresent themselves). Look at Courtney. The point is, her life is great reality TV fodder, filled with ready-for-reality-TV characters. The novel documents her attempts to suppress her own reality, hiding its entertainment value from the production company. She’s active in constructing her own televised identity. She wants to appear wholesome.
But the truth is, she’s not. The big problem with the review is that it there is no distinction between protagonist and author. I may have written the words on the page, but they are written as Courtney. Courtney speaks the prose. It’s a massive contradiction, Courtney is “fine”, if not “dull”, but the musings of the prose are anti-feminist. Her jibes at the expense of socio-economic status and weight are dismissed not as hers, but those of a boy, me. Sure, they’re at odds with her outward character, but look at her initial interview with the producers. In the beginning, she is restrained, her answers are rehearsed, she carefully constructs her identity, even before the cameras are rolling. It is dull. Then she unleashes, she breaks from the script, and she is mean. The novel is, for the most part, her actively controlling others’ perception of her. She is speaking, and at the same time, she is skirting over the less-rosey details, like her participation in the Waah-Waahs, by condemning it (and painting less-likeable pictures of Chloe and Katie).
But that all said, the representations are still not anti-feminist. Yes, the novel is littered with antagonistic females. They aren’t antagonistic because they’re females, they just happen to be both female and antagonists, much like Chloe happens to be both overweight and mean, and Lola happens to be both shallow and (according to the reviewer) lower class. There are very few people, male or female, who Loathing Lola depicts in a good light.
Maybe, if you don’t like a character, you were never supposed to.
Or maybe, it’s just some nineteen-year-old boy, without an editor to properly remove the immaturity of both style and characterisation, being anti-feminist.
Tags: Harry Potter, Helena Bonhom Carter
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Try not sounding like a wounded walrus when you cry
I’m all for movies iliciting strong reactions from their viewers, and will even admit to shedding a few tears in movies in the past, but this is not one of those movies. Maybe it’s because I knew the deaths were coming (shocking, I know, but a book with all the answers has been available for years), or maybe it’s because the film series spent absolutely no time developing characters that cark it, but yeah, the deaths did nothing for me. If they do happen to strike you as particularly sad, please, keep the uncontrollable sobbing to a minimum. It’s really hard to enjoy a movie when the girl next to you is wailing uncontrollably from the first major death onwards. It’s not that sad. I mean, the guy onscreen just stopped acting like he was alive. It’s almost as if there wasn’t still another guy walking around that looked exactly like him.
I understand you’re excited that Mrs Weasley is about to swear, but shut up
Mrs Weasley dropping the B-bomb is one of the book’s highlights. I’m sure it would have been a highlight of the film, too, had the audience not started cheering the moment she and the world’s most versatile actress, Helena Bonham Carter, started battling. By the time our favourite Ginger Mama actually said the word, the applause built in anticipation of her saying it drowned out her actually saying it. Seriously, poor form.
Don’t “nawwww”: Ginny and Harry making out is still unsettlingly horrifying
There’s something wholly unbelievable about someone wanting to kiss Ginny Weasley. Luckily, Daniel Radcliffe looks super awkes every time the script calls for him to lock lips with her. Bring a bag. Two bricks smacked together have more chemistry.
The only acceptable reaction to ’19 Years Later’ is: “Fuck off!”
I have to give my audience credit where credit’s due, they got it this right. The disapproval was potent and the laughter was infectious, but according to startling accounts from friends, in other theatres, the crapilogue was met with tears and raptuous applause. This is wrong and wholly unacceptable. Also:
Albus Severus Potter: But Dad, what if I’m in Slytherin?
Girl behind Will: You don’t need to worry about that. You’ll be in Hufflepuff. ‘Coz you’re shit.
Well played, random Melbournian, well played.
THE WORLD HAS GONE TO $#*! on your iPhone May 1, 2011Posted by William Kostakis in All About William, Stories.
Tags: ebook, iPod, Kindle, Loathing Lola
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1. Download the free Kindle App. Click here.
2. Download the cheap-as-chips ebook by clicking here (if you’re wondering, Part One is the first 80-odd pages of the print version).
OUT NOW: The World Has Gone To Shit (Loathing Lola 2011) April 28, 2011Posted by William Kostakis in Random Musings.
Tags: Loathing Lola
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It’s out! Click here.
The year is 2008. It’s a simpler time. The Jersey Shore is just a place, and Snooki’s just a sound you make when you sneeze…
16-year-old Courtney Marlow is Australia’s newest reality TV star, and this is a year she’ll never forget. Two cameras shadow her every move but they’re the least of her problems… There’s Lola (Dad’s new wife), Liam (dead boyfriend, or is it ex-boyfriend?), Katie (Lord knows what she’s up to) and Mrs Hammond (the President of the Mothers’ Mafia and occasional pimp).
Funny, smart, silly and sweet, Loathing Lola is the startling debut from then-teenage Australian author and Sydney Morning Herald Young Writer of the Year winner, William Kostakis. This revised 2011 edition contains never-before-read content and will be serialized in four parts, released every week.
I’ve always loved the idea of serialized novels, so I thought, as my first digital self-published release, I’d revisit Loathing Lola, tidy it up and release it in four parts. “Tidy it up” you say? Well, I didn’t just change the -ise verbs to -ize, I finally got the chance to reinstate my original vision. Now, Greedo shoots first. Originally, Loathing Lola and its three sequels were named after what characters say (yep, originally wrote four books, and back then, Book 1 was called If You Must…, can’t imagine why that title never stuck haha). So, keeping that tradition alive, I decided to name each quarter after fan-favourite lines from the quarters. Part 1 owes its title to Katie Watson, who is adament the world has gone to shit.
Click here to buy the Kindle version of Loathing Lola 2011: The World Has Gone To Shit. Don’t have a Kindle? Don’t fret, you can download the free Kindle app for iPhone/iPad/iPod or your computer.
Part 2 coming soon. And if all goes to plan, before the end of the year, you’ll be reading an all-new Part 5.
Why I hate arts education (apparently) April 23, 2011Posted by William Kostakis in Shits Me To Tears.
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I keep telling myself that I don’t care about Glee anymore. That it’s a cringeworthy, over-the-top, preachy, plot-holed mess with a blatant disregard for continuity and character. But then, there’s an episode like last week’s ‘Night of Neglect’, and I realise, no show I don’t care about should infuriate me as much as Glee does.
Now, I’m all for meta (probably why Scream 4 made me all kinds of ecstatic), and nine times out of 10, I approve of shows addressing their own critics and shortcomings through their own narratives (it usually means two things: 1. that the episode will be filled with snark, and 2. that the writers are acknowledging the criticisms levied against them and are working to fix the problems). Given that Glee is about performers, with their own critics, it can get meta without alienating a meta-hating audience. In fact, it’s already been there. Season 2 opened with the series directly addressing its critics through exchanges with the school’s student journalist. After the woeful tail-end of Season 1, I took this as a promise to return to form… and well, the promise was unfulfilled. In fact, the show got worse.
‘Night of Neglect’ targeted two major criticisms levied at the series: that most of the Glee kids are neglected by the show’s own narrative and that Sue Sylvestor is too ridiculously over-the-top and over-used. The key to the episode’s meta-ness was Sue, who united all of the show’s other one-dimensional villains to do a host of ‘comic’ (read: unbelievably stupid) things to ‘take down’ the Glee club, including, but not limited to, heckling them at a benefit concert (that not even their parents showed up to). Their zingers weren’t funny, their criticisms weren’t even harsh, and when Gwyneth Paltrow’s Holly Holiday, the substitute teacher (cringe) drew an increibly long bow, linking criticising a TV show on a forum with bullying and heckling, I started to get irked. Was the show doing what I thought it was?
A little later on, Sue said, to one of her failing (and unfunny) henchman: “Your job was to crush their spirit, and had you done that, they would have closed up shop by Intermission. Now get back in there and question the whole purpose of arts education.”
Yep, the show was doing exactly what I thought it was. Instead of addressing criticism and aiming to better itself, Glee basically looked its critics right in the eye and told them, in only the way Ryan Murphy can, “F— you!” We all know we’re not allowed to levy any kind of criticism at the series without being cussed out (just ask the Kings of Leon frontman), but the arrogance on display in ‘Night of Neglect’ was second to none.
Sue Sylvestor said to heckle/bully was to question the whole purpose of arts education, while Holly Holiday drew a link between heckling/bullying and criticising TV shows on forums. With Glee nowadays, there’s always a message, and so what was this episode telling us? That if we have any problem with Glee, we have a serious problem with arts education? Think it’s a huge leap to make? Well, we’ve heard co-creator Murphy say things of the same ilk in his holier-than-thou remarks about the importance of his series…
But see, I have no problems with arts education. Funnily enough, because of my arts education, I understand little things like character and plot and the importance of believable dialogue, as they were taught to me in high school by my co-curricular writing teacher, and because of my understanding of those little things, I have serious problems with Glee.
(I mean, you wrote out a main character’s husband off-camera and then had the nerve to blame characters being sidelined by the narrative on their own insecurities… woeful).
What’s next January 24, 2011Posted by William Kostakis in Random Musings.
Hope the first month of 2011′s treated you well. I have been (really) slack with blogging the past couple of months, life’s kicked up several hundred gears since I finished uni, so I thought I’d drop by, say hey, and give you an update.
Firstly, for those who’ve emailed about finding copies of Loathing Lola, unfortunately, that’s completely out of my control. Get Reading was exceptionally kind, sales-wise (relatively speaking), and it doesn’t look like there are very many left around. If you are looking for a copy and you live in Brisbane, hunt down TLC Books in Manly, Tanya has a few lying around, propping up wobbly tables and such. Otherwise, your best bet is to order it through a larger retailer’s website (like Dymocks or Borders), instead of other online stores that source it directly from the publisher, where it’s currently out of stock. If they can’t help, shoot me an email at email@example.com and I’ll try help out.
Right now, I’m working part-time at Ninemsn, and having the absolute time of my life (I’m managing http://www.yourtv.com.au/news on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays for a friend who’s off galavanting around Europe). I’ve got a few things in the pipeline (am polishing and finding a publisher for Book #2, writing Book #3 and working on something that may or may not be something), but mostly, I’m trying my hand at this proper life thing.
I’ve been handed something remarkable in this bit of temp work at Ninemsn. I can’t imagine there’s anyone who’s ever enjoyed being strapped to a desk 9-5 as much as I have. It helped me realise the fact that my life has been consumed by 65,000 word story. For so long, I honestly couldn’t envision a life after Loathing Lola. It was something I’d written and publicised for more than half of my life. But now I can see life after Lola.
And I think that’s the big reason why I haven’t come back to this blog recently. For so long, I’d log in religiously and eye site stats, wondering how many of those page impressions would translate into book sales. This blog represents, at least to me, a two-and-a-bit-year-long struggle to get ‘known’.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved every minute of the ‘struggle’, but a struggle’s still a struggle. Right now, I need to focus on my writing, and as much as I have absolutely loved living and breathing Lola, there is no life in it left. It’s time to birth new things, better things, snarkier things.
Will hopefully be announcing good news RE: Book #2 soon.
(Am seriously considering ‘Will Kostakis’ as my pen name… thoughts?)
(Also, someone emailed for a pic of the real Yiayia Susie, so I figured I’d share. This is me, Mum, Yiayia and my older brother, Chris at Christmas. Clearly, I’m doing my best Donkey Kong impersonation)
Sex, drugs and vampires November 20, 2010Posted by William Kostakis in Appearances.
Tags: Aimee Said, Georgia Blain, Laura Buzo
Next Friday night, I’m on a panel talking all things YA for the City of Sydney awesomely titled ‘Sex, drugs and vampires’. Here be the details:
Everything you secretly wanted to know about young adult fiction but were too afraid to ask! Once upon a time young adult fiction involved babysitting clubs and ponies. Now it is a brave new world that reflects our modern anxieties. Join four young adult authors when they discuss the new landscape of young adult fiction.
Georgia Blain has published four novels including Closed for Winter. She has been named one of the Sydney Morning Herald’s Best Young Novelists and shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards.
Laura Buzo has worked as a social worker in various community-based mental health settings. In 2005 she wrote her first novel, Good Oil.
William Kostakis is the 21 year old author of Loathing Lola and winner of the Sydney Morning Herald Young Writer of the Year.
Aimee Said is author of Finding Freia Lockhart: How not to be a successful teen. She is also a web content manager, writer, editor and proofreader.
Suitable for 15+ years
Friday 26 November
6.30pm – 7.30pm
Surry Hills Library
Telephone: 8374 6230
Bookings are essential.
November 28: Angus & Robertson Carindale booksigning (QLD)
December 11: Angus & Robertson Woden booksigning (ACT)
December 12: Borders Kotara booksigning (NSW)
December 16: Angus & Robertson booksigning (NSW)
Dearest Douchebag November 16, 2010Posted by William Kostakis in Shits Me To Tears.
Tags: David van Gend
I was reading an op-ed piece about the dangers of same-sex parenting in today’s Courier Mail (click here), and I thought, there’s no better time for another open letter, this time, to David van Gend, a Toowoomba GP and a committee member of the Family Council of Queensland.
To catch you up, here’s a choice quotation from his article:
Gays are not second-class citizens but a gay man certainly makes a second-class mother. Two lesbian women may be model citizens, but neither of them can be a dad to a little boy. The most serious objection to gay marriage is that it means gay parenting, and gay parenting means depriving a child of either his mother or his father.
Firstly, ‘gay’ is not a noun. ‘Moron’, ‘bigot’, ‘ignoramus’, they’re nouns.
Secondly, sexuality does not equip someone with the skills needed to be a good parent. The closest thing my (straight) father did to parenting was avoid paying Child Support and not call on Christmas, teaching me the importance of being self-reliant and never trusting anyone. I was raised by two women, my mother and my grandmother, who, between them, kept me in school, kept me clothed, kept me fed, and you know what? I think I came out pretty darn fantastic. Yes, I have my quirks (who doesn’t?), and yes, I was deprived of a father, but you know what? The father I was deprived of? Not so great.
If you have two parents, be they opposite genders, or ‘gays’, and they love and support you, and they nurture you, then you know what? That’s what matters in the end. See, the funny thing is, my two female parents, they taught me to respect, and embrace, difference. My male parent taught me to hide my money in my new wife’s name so that I can avoid my parental obligations.
F-Me boots, crazy grandmothers and dulcet tones November 12, 2010Posted by William Kostakis in Media Stuff.
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Hey everyone, quick update from EssayLand, this morning, I did a radio interview with Barry Eva, you can catch the audio here. I talk about everything from editing Lola, to F-Me boots, to what how much I hate authors overstuffing their YA with characters with issues. and you get the awkward we’re-on-the-phone-on-two-different-sides-of-the-world between answers, all for free.