Wednesday 20 May 2009

Interview - William Kostakis

The hilarious William Kostakis is back again to answer the many questions I had about his debut novel, Loathing Lola.

How much did editing change your initial draft of Loathing Lola?
Well, it made it readable, for one.

Over the years, I've made so many changes, that have each resulted in Loathing Lola becoming a completely different novel.

The title wasn't ironic for the first half of its lifetime - and it was just your typical teenager-hating-stepmum story. I was a teen writing because I didn't feel books I was given to read at school spoke to me, but I'd fallen into the trap of just regurgitating the clich├ęd representations of teens. So, I looked at my life - I mean, I personally don't hate my stepmother, so why was I writing a character that did, for no reason other than to defend her mother's honour?

Reality TV wasn't a big part of it at first because it the first draft was written before the first season of Big Brother - whoa, I feel old. Reality TV didn't really exist. When it did pick up steam, I was drafting a sequel. Realising the idea of a teen having a TV show was infinitely more unique than my original novel, I combined the two - I had the best events of the first book play out in front of a camera, and huzzah, a novel was born.

Less than a year out from its publication, I realised I didn't like that novel :P I changed it from third-person past, to first-person present, and that was when it really, REALLY started to shine.
Obviously, I haven't brought myself to read it in book form yet... I mean, I'm so used to drafting it (I've been doing it since primary school), what if I can't accept the fact that I can't edit it any more?

Were there any conscious changes you had to make to write from a female's perspective?
I'd spent so much time writing Courtney that her voice just came naturally to me, so I just imagined her relaying the story to a friend, and it came naturally. *Goes and spits in a bucket and does a variety of other manly things to make up for that statement*

Chloe is a royal headcase and sadly, a personality many of us are familiar with in our lives. How difficult was it to avoid a caricature?
It's funny... I never gave it much thought. I know some people who, if you put them on TV as characters, critics would say they're caricatures. I think it's funny that we think that caricatures only exist in the realms of poorly written fiction, but just as in fiction, in life, there's a balance of characters and caricatures. I don't think I avoided caricature, I just kept a healthy balance between characters and caricatures.

But it was tempting to up the crazy-factor on Chloe and Mrs Hammond a bit... There was a bit where Mrs Hammond kicked down a door (after the chase scene), but reading it, it wasn't funny, it wasn't silly, it was stupid. And I guess I avoided "stupid" more than anything else.

How long would have Liam and Courtney lasted, had he lived?
A couple more weeks, tops. That's the thing about death, everyone's instantly sainted the moment they die. Courtney didn't get the opportunity to see how incompatible they really were, and she's forced to grieve their relationship longer than if she had broken up with him in real life.

Which character is the most closely based on someone in your own life?
Well, I like to think I'm Tim, through-and-through. There are a few old teachers sprinkled through the book, and I can't ignore Mrs Hammond. She's an amalgamation of some of the scariest schoolyard mothers I've encountered through the years.

You're a publisher author and a uni student, when do you get to be the stereotypical, beer swilling, video game addicted, nineteen year old guy? Well, stereotypical, beer swilling, video game addicted guy = uni student. I'm not going to pretend my 12-hour uni week is taxing at all, but that's not to say I'm always drinking / playing video games. They're... hobbies. And I don't like to see writing as a profession (the second I do that, 1. the money I make looks crap, 2. if I force myself to write, I don't think I'll enjoy it as much), it's more of a hobby, something I've always found time for throughout my life, so I'm sort of programmed to make time for it.

Loathing Lola's film rights are purchased. Who is in your dream cast?
Hm... if only Natalie Portman were younger, I think she'd be a perfect Courtney. Or Jennifer Garner. My biggest thing would be to actually have teenagers play the teenage characters. I'm so sick of seeing thirty-five-year-old teenagers onscreen. I think Mrs Hammond would have to be Nicole Kidman, simply because she's got that "i'm an uppity snob" thing completely downpat in real life, so if anyone can bring Mrs Hammond's self-important lunacy to the screen, it's her. I think Nicole's the only concrete casting I can really think of... I can tell you Katie's English grandmother who'll pop up in the eventual sequel's a dead-ringer for Judi Dench.

What are you working on at the moment?
I'm plotting a sequel to Magnum Opus (still tossing up on a title, do I keep the alliteration going?), as of right now, it's called Celebritart, and it's a hoot. Still don't know how to juggle the plot lines without it being too bloated. Even thought Courtney's still the narrator, it's really Katie's narrative arc, and it's a doozy [whoa... hoot and doozy... am I kidding?!]. It won't be my next release though, I'm working on MAGNUM OPUS, capital letters and all. And you'll only get a title out of me at the moment :P

Okay I need to stifle the giggles and remind you that Will's back on Friday with his guest blog that is sure to entertain you all. Big thanks to the man himself for sharing his time with me.


Shooting Stars Mag said...

Nice interview. He is funny, and wow! Only 19? I'll be 19 in like...a week and a half. That's just insane. I hope to be published at some point though, so seeing that any age can do it does help. :)


Sadako said...

Great interview! and the book looks fantastic.

William Kostakis said...

Whoops, I meant still tossing up on a sequel to Loathing Lola

prophecygirl said...

Loathing Lola sounds like such a good book. I'm going to have to get me a copy!