Next up we have the amazing Will Kostakis to talk all about his short story in the #LoveOzYA Anthology and his favourite #LoveOzYA books! His story was one of our absolute favourites (though picking a favourite story from the collection would be like choosing our favourite child), and it was so lovely to meet him at our Book Meet a few days ago!
Why is #LoveOZYA important to you? What’s the first Aussie YA novel you ever read?
#LoveOzYA is important to me because it allows me to see my world, and my place in it, reflected back at me. The first Aussie YA novel I read was It’s Not All About YOU, Calma! By Barry Jonsberg, and the characters spoke how I did, and it was such an eye-opening experience for me as a teenager. To be published, I didn’t have to erase my Australian-ness.
What’s one #LoveOzYA book you would recommend to all readers?
I’ve never recommended Gabrielle Tozer’s The Intern to someone who didn’t like it. It’s just so fun.
How did you feel when you were asked to write a story for Begin, End, Begin, and had you written many short stories before?
I wrote lots of short stories in high school, and won Sydney Morning Herald Young Writer of the Year for a collection of short stories, so I’m very comfortable writing shorter fiction. I was ecstatic when they asked, because I had an idea that I loved that was longer than a blog post but shorter than a novel.
What inspired you to write the story that you did? Did you ever consider that idea for a full-length novel?
I did consider I Can See The Ending for a full-length novel, but I had trouble stretching out an idea about a psychic who knows what’s coming and can’t change it into a novel because … the longer it gets, the less drama and tension there is unless I manufacture some. I tried that, but it muddled the heart of the story: Boy meets girl, boy kisses girl, boy sees their divorce in 30 years. How does boy fall in love now?
What inspired you to be a writer? Was there a specific moment in your life when you realised that writing was something you wanted to do with your life?
I remember having Enid Blyton read to me in Year One, and asking my teacher what I had to do to be like her. She gave me a pencil and a pad and said that all I had to do was write. And I’ve been doing it ever since.
Had you met all of the other contributing authors before being asked to write a short story for Begin, End, Begin? Whose story were you most surprised by?
I’ve crossed paths with all of them, and am a huge fan of them all. I knew Jaclyn Moriarty’s was going to be special, because she’s Jaclyn Moriarty, but it really, really beautiful. I’ve read it four times.
How different is the story you wrote to your existing work? Do you normally write in the same genre, or were you trying something new?
I decided to try something knew. I’m so used to writing contemporary realism that I wanted to draw on some of my other influences. I was a huge Charmed fan growing up (if you haven’t seen it, hunt it down for glorious 90s magic action), and I think you can see its influence on my in this story, which is a bit more spec fic.
What was the first book you ever saw yourself in? What parts of yourself do you see in the story you wrote?
I think Morris Glietzman’s Misery Guts series reflected my experiences in a huge way – my parents were in the throes of divorce, and it spoke to me as a tween. Obviously I’m not a psychic, but there’s a lot of me in I Can See The Ending, my experiences working at McDonald’s, my fear of bad things happening, and my constant need to remind myself to live in and appreciate the good times now.
What does your writing schedule look like? Do you like to write in a specific place, or at a specific time?
I basically tell myself I have to write today, then I play video games and go for long walks and freak out about not writing all day, and then try to write a few hundred words in a panic before bed. Professional!
What advice do you have for aspiring writers? Do you feel as though there’s a big difference between writing short stories and writing novels?
Write! And write short stories. Everyone is in such a rush to write novels, and because they keep starting and restarting novels, they don’t get much practice at finishing. To tell stories, you’ve got to know how to stick the landing, and writing short stories taught me how to write endings. Now, my writing is better because I took a few years off novel writing to write shorter fiction.
What books have you already published? Are you working on something right now?
I have published four books, three for young adults, including The First Third about growing up in a small but potent Greek family, and The Sidekicks, about three boys grieving a mutual friend after his sudden death. Currently working on a new novel, but … lips are sealed at this point. Sorry!
If you could write a book with one author of your choice, who would that author be and why?
There are so many Aussie authors I’d love to collaborate with, and this anthology gave me the chance to. But I’d love to write something with Gabrielle Tozer one day because we’re so in synch, and Amie Kaufman, you can’t talk about collaborating without the Queen herself. I think she’d really challenge me to step outside my comfort zone, and I’d learn so much from her.
Thanks so much for answering our questions, Will! It was great to see you a few days ago.
Here’s your daily reminder to go and pick up a copy of the #LoveOzYA Anthology if you haven’t already – it’s phenomenal! All the authors are so talented, and it was amazing to have a chat with them last Sunday at our Book Meet.
‘Slice’ image sourced from Gin and Co.