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Interview, Simon, Writing

Fluff, embellishments & reality TV: an interview with William Kostakis

16.10.08 | Comment?

William Kostakis is an Australian writer, whose book Loathing Lola is in the library now. He very kindly agreed to be interviewed for the Teen Blog, and we asked a few probing questions about writing …

1. At what age did you begin writing? How old were you when you first had something published?

I guess I started in Year One. I always loved story-writing tasks. At the end of the year, I won the award for ‘excellence in creative writing’. How anyone can judge ‘excellence’ in a seven-year-old creative writer is beyond me, I’d call it ‘the ability to string four maybe five words together on a page coherently’, but hey, excellence or not, labelling it like that must have gone straight to my head. Early in Year Three, I first had something published, I was a finalist in a cinquain competition for a kids magazine called the Starfish Generation. I remember it off by heart:

Dogs.
Bite people.
Stay away okay?
Dogs are very vicious.
Fluff.

… It isn’t very good.

2. Do you write professionally, or do you need to work a regular day-job? And does it interfere with your writing?

I’m a full-time student at Sydney University studying Media and Communications, and I’m also a private suite attendant at the Sydney Cricket Ground and the Sydney Football Stadium, so writing’s what I do when I have nothing to do. I guess I’m used to it, though. I grew up balancing writing with high school and a horrible job at McDonald’s… if I just wrote, I don’t think I’d know what to do with all that spare time.

3. Where do you get your ideas for writing from?

More often than not, I base my work on personal experiences. Obviously, I embellish and the stories end up completely different to what I based them off, but my personal experiences are my starting points, usually. Take Loathing Lola for instance. It’s about a teenage girl who stars in her own TV show… which has absolutely nothing to do with my life. But if you look at what it started as – a story about someone grieving the death of a loved one – you can see how my personal experience has marked the story (a close friend passed away as I was writing the book). When I’m not writing from personal experience, I’m usually writing to make fun of something (which is where the whole anti-reality TV message came from). For example, when I won Sydney Morning Herald Young Writer of the Year in 2005, one of my stories, ‘Bing Me’, was written solely as a way to pay out a friend who was in an internet “relationship”.

4. Who are your favourite authors?

Hmmm… Terry Pratchett’s amazing – in one sentence, he can make you laugh at and care for the same character. Chuck Palahniuk’s good in small doses. But really, I’m not that big a reader. Like most teens, I’m more of a TV and movies kind of guy.

5. We really like haiku – can you summarise Loathing Lola in haiku form?

I’ve never written a haiku before, so don’t judge, but…

Fun in funeral
and the smart in smart-arses
Loathing Lola rocks.


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