Coming soon


Hi everyone,

Just thought I’d touch base, I’m currently working on a new website, with a new blog (there’s a lot of teen angst on this one I’m hoping to leave behind haha). I’ve left up a handful of posts to stave off a tumbleweed invasion…

Looking forward to sharing The First Third with you soon.

Will (@willkostakis)

The Next Big Thing


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?

Jennifer Lawrence. And I want her to play everyone. (This is why. And also this.)

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?

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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’ve tagged Tim Sinclair and Steph Bowe. Look out for their posts in the new year.

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


EDIT: Ah, Vintage Will… Here’s a post from the back catalogue, not exactly my finest hour. Reviews are important, good or bad… The good ones inspire you to keep writing, and the bad ones inspire you to get better (once you get past the ‘assuming the foetal position and crying into your body-shaped pillow’ part). Obviously, I wrote the post below when I wasn’t quite past the assuming the foetal position part. As much as I want to delete it every time I see it in my feed, I think it’s a nice reminder to myself to never, ever chuck a tanty like this again. Bloggers and reviewers play such an important role in our industry, you don’t just champion authors’ work, you provide us with important feedback, you reassure us, you challenge us. And the last thing you deserve is 1000 words like the below. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to give Will From 2011 a stern talking to.

——————————

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…

To read Agrippina’s review, click here.

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.

An Unofficial Guide to watching Harry Potter Deathly Hallows Part II in theatres


 

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.

William Kostakis and live TV


Firstly, a big shout out to the students of Thornbury High School in Melbourne, I kicked off my Get Reading tour at their school yesterday, had a blast

This morning, I descended on Hyde Park for a day of shameless self-promotion which included a brief appearance on The Circle with lovely ladies, Gabrielle Williams (YA author, made of awesome), Judy Nunn (author, formerly the father-killing Ailsa of Home And Away fame, awesome) and Malla Nunn (crime writer, also awesome). I’ve embedded the footage a little later in the post. 

But before that: Awkward Author Encounter #36,521 

William: [approaching, wrapping earphone cord around iPod] Hi. I’m William 

Judy Nunn: Hello, William. Are you here to wire me up for sound? 

Producer: No, Judy, this is William Kostakis, an author. 

Judy Nunn: Oh, I’m so sorry, William, I really loved The Slap… 

Producer: No… that’s Christos Tsiolkas… 

[insert five minutes of laughter here

Momentary mistaken identity aside, we all had a great time. I picked up Gabrielle’s Beatle Meets Destiny - halfway through telling me what it was about, she had me won over, and having started it, I love it. 

Imagine your name is John Lennon, only everyone calls you Beatle. And then you meet your Dream girl and her name is Destiny McCartney. But what if you’re already with the perfect girl? 

I look forward to reading both Malla and Judy’s novels as well over the course of the Get Reading month… and at this rate, if I keep meeting selected authors, I’m going to have to read all fifty… 

THE EYEBROW STRIKES BACK! 

I mean, it always arches like crazy whenever it’s in front of a camera, but I’ve never seen it up that high before. It must’ve sensed the hi-def/live-ness of the broadcast and seriously upped its game. Meanwhile, my left leg was trembling like crazy, so poor Malla had me kicking her under the table. 

And lol @ my friend Bocca, sitting in frame for most of the intro, reading Loathing Lola. What else are friends for?

GET READING! 2010


Loathing Lola has been selected as one of Get Reading!’s 50 Books You Can’t Put Down. What does this mean? Well, one, it means I’m touring Australia until the end of September, and two, when you buy one of the 50 books listed in the guide before September 30, you’ll receive a FREE book exclusive to Get Reading!: either 10 Short Stories You Must Read in 2010 by ten of Australia’s best writers or Tickled Onions by the award-winning children’s author Morris Gleitzmen.

I’ll put up details soon. I’m hopping between Melbourne and Sydney this week. You can catch me all day at Hyde Park in Sydney, at the Get Reading! outdoor reading room. I’ll be the writer in residence, and, more importantly, there’ll be free WiFi and a barrista. On the weekend, I’ll be visiting a few Melbourne book stores :-).

The first 50 pages of Loathing Lola are now available for FREE online. Click here.

You can buy Loathing Lola with the free Get Reading book by clicking here.

(One of my personal faves, Everything Beautiful by Simmone Howell is also on the list – click here to check it out)