Posted by: Diane Curran | April 12, 2009

Winding up the party: YA Author William Kostakis

Hey everyone,

I’m Diane and it looks like I’m left with the task of calling last drinks and cleaning up after the party guests.

To round off our launch party, I’ve invited Young Adult writer William Kostakis to our blog.

Now William is one young writer who really has his writing sh#t together. Published at 19, winner of the Sydney Morning Herald Young Writer of the Year and onto his second novel, I think we can all learn a lot from him about writing.  Plus his novel Loathing Lola is about reality TV, so he’s got my vote instantly.

It’s over to William:

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1. Who are your literary inspirations? Which book made you realise that you also wanted to be a writer?
I remember wanting to write like Enid Blyton – I loved the Magic Faraway Tree books, and every story I wrote in primary school was some hardly-veiled attempt to rip her off. Then, as I grew older, I wanted to be the next Morris Glietzman. We had to read Misery Guts for school in Year 5 – I ended up reading every single book he’d written that month. I’d imagine my face and bio on the back of his books instead of Morris Glietzman’s – and while I always loved writing stories, that’s my earliest memory of wanting to be a writer. Now, my literary inspirations are spread over page and screen – I’m a big fan of Terry Pratchett (the man’s a genius), Quentin Tarantino (ditto), Tina Fey (megalulz), Diablo Cody (ditto)… the list is a long one.

2. Are you a pantster or a plotter?
I’ve never heard of a pantster before, but I assumed it was the opposite of a plotter, and Google says I’m right. 🙂 I’m somewhere in between. I love jumping into a story head-first, but I also love plotting, giving the story a sense of purpose. Usually, I pants my way through the first chapter, then I plot like mad. Plotting just forces me to really look deep into the characters, get to know them, and more than anything, it makes me feel confident about where my story is going. I don’t stick too rigidly to the plan, it keeps the same vague structure, but sometimes, as I write, a more natural turn of events presents itself, and I just run with it. That way, the story has a nice balance between the clever choreography of a well-plotted story, and the refreshing, natural spontaneity of an off-the-cuff story.

3. When you write a scene, do you visualise it as a movie, or do you hear your characters speak? So what comes first, the vision or the audio?
I love dialogue, anyone who reads Loathing Lola will notice that straight away, but my approach depends on what sort of scene it is. If it’s some intensely visual moment, then I imagine it as a film, I see the shot, I see the character move, all that junk. If it’s a dialogue-heavy scene, I hear the characters talking. Sometimes, I even go so far as to act out the dialogue aloud, no pens, no paper – so, I get dialogue that sounds realistic and everyone I live with thinks I’m certifiably insane.

4. Tell us about your path to publication. How did you find out you were going to be published?
My big break came during a free period on one of my last days of high school. I was in the library – I know, amazingly cool – using the web, and one of my friends came up to me and was like “I guessed Max Martin’s email address and it’s real”. He changes career path every five seconds, and during these five seconds, he wanted to be a singer – Max Martin’s a huge music producer. So, at this point in time, I was six or so rejection letters deep and I was sorta bitter about relinquishing my reigning-Sydney Morning Herald Young Writer of the Year throne, so I thought I’d give it a shot. I guessed the direct emails of two commissioning editors at publishing houses – Random and Pan Macmillan. I pitched them the idea of Loathing Lola. Both got back to me within an hour. One wanted it mailed to her, the other, emailed. I went with the publisher that seemed keener. The problem was – while I pitched the idea, I changed it significantly. So, I spent the rest of my school day writing in the library – my Coolmeter’s reading is off the charts – and I sent them three chapters. They gave me the thumbs up, and now, here I am, the author of a chart-middling, moderate non-bestseller YA hit!

5. You rewrote Loathing Lola quite substantially from the original submission. How hard was it to let go of what didn’t work? How much of it changed?
It was very easy to let go of it. I mean, it was crap. Sure, I cut some funny lines, but what I replaced those scenes with were far superior, and ultimately made for a better novel. The stuff I wrote just before my final deadline was my best – everything just worked by that stage. The end scene changed a bajillion times in drafting, and it wasn’t until the midnight before the deadline that I found my one finishing line that was just perfect.

6. Your main character Courtney stars in a reality TV show. If you could invent a new reality TV show, what would it be?
I was thinking about this the other day actually – Author Idol. Okay, so writing doesn’t exactly make for rivetting viewing – but if there’s one thing my eight or so months of release have taught me, it’s that writers can be incredibly bitchy and competitive. Imagine the backstabbings!

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To win a signed copy of Loathing Lola, tell us your idea for a reality TV show or what reality TV show would you like to be on and why?

And I’ve got a runner-up prize today of a ‘framed tile’ from my shop of Writers’ Motivational Products seen below:

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So start commenting:

And thank you William for coming to our launch party.

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Responses

  1. Great interview Diane and a fantastic way to end your launch week. Congrats on a great blog.

    Sandie

  2. Happy Easter, everyone!

    Hey, Diane and William! Loved this interview. William, I was such a slacker compared to you at your age. I’m full of admiration for your ingenuity and talent. You’ve hit on something very important in the revision process – let go of your ego and make the necessary cuts in order to serve the story better.

    Now, on to one of my fave topics – reality TV. I keep telling my boss we need to go on ‘The Amazing Race’. Only thing is that he’s not so good with heights AND he can’t drive, so I’ll have to take up the slack on gravity defying roadblocks and get behind to wheel on the scary streets of Bangladesh.

  3. Ugh, don’t you hate seeing typos in your own comments after you post them? I, of course, meant “get behind the wheel”. Must. Have. More. Chocolate. For. Breakfast.

  4. Hey Sandie, thanks for dropping by. Now if we could only organise a reality TV show for Cassandra!

    Vanessa. I hear you. More chocolate for breakfast. I guess I better have some real breakfast too or lunch.

    At 19, I was finishing up my first year at Uni, and Uni blasted all the creativity out of me for many years.

    The Amazing Race is a fabulous show. One of my faves which pre-dates the reality TV era was the ABC’s Race Around the World. Reality and creativity. Loved it. Shame it had to stop.

  5. glad to be here for the launch party, and thanks for having me ^_^ uni’s trying to force the creativity outta me, but to stop it, i have this ingenius plan: i don’t attend lectures and make up essays off the cuff 😛 sure, i don’t set the sky alight with my marks, but hey, keeps me creative 🙂

  6. “now, here I am, the author of a chat-middling, moderate non-bestseller YA hit!” I love that quote! Good on you William.
    I think it’s awesome you guessed the email addy at school when you were supposed to be in class. As a teacher I’d have to frown at that but since it was the end of school….
    What about a virtual school, where people get dropped in and have to teach a bunch of misfit grade 9s without any preparation.
    The show I most want to go on is BBCs Top Gear. I soo want to do a lap of the track and find out who the Stig is.
    Great interview guys, keep em coming.

  7. oops I meant to say my idea for a reality tv show would be the teacher for a day one.

  8. Thanks for dropping by William.

    Okay, Vanessa and Nat, I see through your cunning plan.

    The ‘oops I meant to say’ and the ‘typos’ are just a plan to HAVE to leave another comment and to gain double entry into the competition.

    That’s cool. the more comments the merrier.

    You can all chat amongst yourselves while I go to work in a tiny room in a tiny town waiting for customers who are too busy entertaining the Easter Bunny to come and tell me about their flood problems.

    Ah! Who cares. I’ll be away from the internet addiction, and I’ll be being paid double time to edit my ms. Gotta love that!

  9. whoops, i meant chart-middling – way to delete the typos diane! 🙂

  10. missed that typo, but I had caught a couple of others. It’s fixed now.

  11. […] Curran interviews me for new blog, We Love YA – click HERE. SB: Favourite zombie movie? WK: Sex and the City: The […]

  12. OMG! I grew up on Enid Blyton too!! The Faraway Tree and The Five-Find Outers rule!!

    Lesley

  13. Great interview. Go William.

    OK, my absolute dream reality show would be a weekly cooking show. Each week, we pick a different period of history and have to cook a banquet based only on the available ingredients and tools/techniques of the day.

    I think the first show would have to be about the discovery of chocolate and I’d have to make chocolate from scratch. I’d probably have to travel to South America to make it all incredibly legitimate. Yes, I see this as being the most expensive, low-rating ‘reality’ show ever made.

    😀

  14. Ebony, you seriously have to pitch those ideas to Mark Burnett!

  15. tee hee Vanessa, I’ve been watching ‘Time Team’ on ABC and loving it.

  16. Fabulous ideas, Ebony.

    Love to help research he chocolate one.

  17. They should totally have a reality show called America’s Next Top Author where they put a bunch of neurotic writers together and make them do challenges like who can go the longest without checking their email inbox, and have writing challenges where they have to write a bittersweet romance between a toilet brush and a bath sponge!
    I think that would make for really interesting reality TV. Or is it just me?

    Lesley

  18. Hey Lesley,

    The more neurotic the better and we’ll throw in some literary auteurs who look down their noses at the commercial fiction authors.

    Keeping writers away from their email? Um, could be difficult. (she says flicking back to Twitter)

    What about making them do a draft by longhand, or using an old manual typewriter, without making a typo? That would be an endurance test.

    Could be fun.

  19. Brilliant Diane!! So um, do you think Mark Burnett reads this blog?

    Lesley


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