Some interesting facts about Chris Ryan, author of the Alpha Force series:
8 The number of days Chris Ryan spent in the Iraqi desert with no food and little water after the Bravo Two Zero mission went wrong during the first Gulf War in 1991
800,000 The number of copies sold of his book The One That Got Away, his account of the mission and his escape from enemy forces
5 million The total number of books he has sold in several genres
16 The age at which he unsuccessfully tried to join the Army
10 The number of years he spent in the SAS, completing both covert and overt missions
15 The number of spiders that crawled out of a wound he sustained during jungle training in Brunei
(If only a single spider crawled out of a wound I sustained I probably wouldn’t be here today – but then I’m not in the SAS.) Read the rest of the article about Chris Ryan.
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:
Stay away okay?
Dogs are very vicious.
… 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.