Author Archives: Will Kostakis

About Will Kostakis

Will Kostakis is a writer for young adults. His latest, THE FIRST THIRD, is out now.

I CAN SEE THE ENDING is out now!

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After completing The First Third, I knew I didn’t want to wait too long before writing my next book for young adults. Early on, I had two competing ideas: in the first, boys grieve their mutual best friend, and in the second, one boy can see the future. I wrote first chapters for both, but while one continued to evolve, one stalled. It was too short. I tried to stretch and manipulate it into a novel, adding characters and plot points, but that just diluted it.

I set it aside and focused on what would become The Sidekicks, and I’m glad I did. It was the novel I needed to write, and the time to write it. And when I was done, I returned to Adam, the boy who could see the future. I hadn’t fallen out of love his story, but I knew it wasn’t a novel.

When the opportunity arose to write for the #LoveOzYA anthology, I jumped at it. I love writing short stories, and I had an idea that wasn’t quite a novel. A few weeks, a writers’ retreat, a few more weeks and BAM, I Can See The Ending was born. The pitch:

Love is never as simple as Boy Meets Girl, not for a psychic teen anyway. Nothing spoils Boy Kisses Girl quite like a vision of Girl Dumping Boy …

Dabbling in rom-com spec-fic is a bit of a departure for me, but I still wanted it to feel like a Will Kostakis story, so expect banter, friendship, and an all-too-present parent.

I Can See The Ending is available digitally (AMAZON GOOGLE PLAY • KOBO • iBOOKS), and also in paperback as part of Begin, End, Begin, the first #LoveOzYA anthology. Edited by Danielle Binks, Begin, End, Begin features stories from beloved young adult authors Amie Kaufman, Melissa Keil, Ellie Marney, Jaclyn Moriarty, Michael Pryor, Alice Pung, Gabrielle Tozer and Lili Wilkinson.

And after all that, I still can’t shake Adam. I think he wants me to figure out his novel and write that too. I just might.

The Sidekicks gets a US cover

sidekickswebHere it is! The Sidekicks has its US cover. My friends at Barnes & Noble invited me to pop by their Teen Blog to reveal it, and chat a little about the real-life inspiration behind the novel.

When someone dies, it carves a line through your life. Everything before it becomes the past, and everything after is never the same.

My best friend died in the summer between my sophomore and junior years.

Read the full essay here.

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The Sidekicks hardcover edition is now available for pre-order.

In other news, The Sidekicks has been longlisted for the Gold Inky! It joins Shivaun Plozza’s Frankie, Zana Fraillon’s The Bone Sparrow, Sarah Ayoub’s The Yearbook Committee, Alice Pung’s My First Lesson, Randa Abel-Fattah’s When Michael Met Mina, Justine Larbalestier’s My Sister Rosa, Jay Kristoff’s Nevernight, Cath Crowley’s Words in Deep Blue, and Claire Zorn’s One Would Think the Deep.

The Centre For Youth Literature is currently looking for teen judges to decide the shortlist. It’s a wonderful opportunity, especially if you love reading and discussing books. They’re looking for applicants Australia-wide, aged 12 to 18. Applications close 9am AEST Wednesday 22 March.

The Sidekicks is coming to America!

Sara Farizan

I’m thrilled to announce that The Sidekicks will be released in the United States on October 17, 2017. It’ll be hardcover (!!!) and the cover is gorgeous (I can’t show anyone yet unfortunately, but the image above is *loudly clears throat* pretty close). It’s available for pre-order on Amazon now.

Here’s the new American blurb:

Ryan, Harley and Miles are very different people — the swimmer, the rebel and the nerd. All they’ve ever had in common is Isaac, their shared best friend.

When Isaac dies unexpectedly, the three boys must come to terms with their grief and the impact Isaac had on each of their lives. In his absence, Ryan, Harley and Miles discover things about one another they never saw before, and realize there may be more tying them together than just Isaac.

An intricately woven story told in three parts, award-winning Australian author Will Kostakis makes his American debut with this heartwarming, masterfully written novel about grief, self-discovery and the connections that tie us all together.

I can’t believe it’s almost been a year since The Sidekicks‘ Australian release, and I just want to thank everyone for embracing it. Travelling the country meeting you all has been an absolute pleasure, and here’s hoping our paths cross again in 2017.

STAR TREK BEYOND [Review]

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Will’s pedantic Trekkie friend, Walker reviews Star Trek Beyond:

Far from just a solid addition to the Star Trek franchise, Star Trek Beyond holds itself up as not just a phenomenal sequel, but as solid addition to the action/adventure genre in general. In its two-hour run-time, Beyond manages to not only deliver bone-shattering action, but also levels character development far above most other 2016 releases thus far. I could easily spend a thousand words praising the flow of the film, or the informed development of story throughout, the lack of lulls, or simply the joy felt during my viewing, but I won’t. No, the real praise for this film belongs to co-writer Simon Pegg.

In Beyond, Pegg manages to straddle the line between reboot and sequel far better than this reviewer (or seemingly, most internet commentators) thought possible. At minimum, a third viewing is required in order to understand the full magnitude of throwbacks, and references, Pegg has plugged into this film. However, unlike other recent reboots and remakes we’ve seen over the last couple years (looking at you Ghostbusters), Beyond manages to keep its homages to its predecessors far more subtle and in doing so gets away with including a great deal more than would otherwise be enjoyable. Through these callbacks, Pegg crafts a fully fleshed-out universe and film with the sense of history and legacy that the Star Trek franchise fully deserves. For the first time, Star Trek is able to draw upon the full breadth of its 400-year chronology, and it truly warmed my heart.

This film was quite obviously a labour of love for Pegg and all those involved. In the span of two hours, the film manages to reference a small portion of each one of the Star Trek television series and most of the subsequent films, and most importantly, correctly. After two viewings, I’ve only found three continuity and canon errors and they remain inconsequential and tiny, a truly phenomenal accomplishment for Pegg when you consider that he is working with a 50-year-old franchise with hundreds of contributors. The numerous throwbacks require not just research and a real love for the material and the universe, but perhaps most impressively, literally hundreds of hours of viewing time of previous additions to the Star Trek universe.

You need to see Star Trek: Beyond.

Will, who’s only ever seen the Abrams films, reviews Star Trek Beyond:

It’s good. You need to see Star Trek: Beyond.

Oliver Phommavanh: ‘I don’t get girls’

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When I was a teenager, I used to read Girlfriend magazine. I thought it would help me get a girlfriend. I wanted to do some research because I don’t get girls. My favourite pick up line was, ‘What’s better, Nintendo 64 or PlayStation?’ Yes, I grew up in the pre-smartphone era. Back in my day, you couldn’t hide behind Snapchat or Instagram. You had to talk to girls, like face-to-face. It was ugly. I mean, that’s why there’s no emoji with pimples everywhere.

So when it came to writing The Other Christy, I finally had a ‘female protagonist’. Now I know this girl is in Year 6, but it doesn’t make it less complicated. I used to be a teacher of a Year 5/6 class and girls took their fights undercover. I mean you couldn’t set up a hotline to report any fights between girls, because you wouldn’t suspect a thing.

I remember a girl burst into tears in my class and it was because of something that another mean girl said. I later discovered that this was not a one-off incident, but something brewing over the last few months. It was like starting Game of Thrones at the beginning of season six. How did I miss this mean girl’s behaviour? Why didn’t anybody tell me? What’s the big deal with Jon Snow anyway?

So I drew from my teacher observations to get inside the Other Christy, Christy Ung’s head. She’s a quiet girl with loud ideas. She’s a little misunderstood. She just wants to be heard. No, her middle name is not Carrie. But she does kill people with kindness, shaped like cupcakes and muffins. Christy Ung is every shy girl that I used to teach in class. The ones who didn’t have many friends and felt a little left out. Kinda like Pluto. He can’t hang out with the other planets anymore, so he’s just floating around on the edge.

Christie Owens is a queen bee in the same class as Christy. Christie borrows a lot from other popular girls in my classes. They had their cliques. They had their besties. But in The Other Christy, Christie’s besties turn to beasties and she gets kicked out. Christy starts to befriend her, but the question remains, can you be friends with your rival? Of course you can. Look what happened with Mario and Sonic.

I’m a little part of Christy Ung too. The insecure kid who wants to be one of the popular ones, know all the latest trends, have the coolest things. I see this all the time when I visit schools as an author. I’m always overhearing conversations, trying to get in tune with what kids are into. I’ve witnessed the rise and fall and resurrection of Justin Bieber. I’ve lived through fads, trends and viral dances and memes that fade quicker than whatshisname, you know that guy who did that thing. Yeah, him. I know friendships that can be fickle things, if you’re hiding behind masks. Be yourself and find your tribe or LAN group. Yeah, I don’t get out often these days.

I’ve had a lot of fun writing The Other Christy. It’s a different tack for me. It’s a story made up out of all those things I’ve seen in the playground and in class. How can I make these characters up? I’ve seen them up close. When people ask how me how I know Christy Ung, I’ll tell them, I’ve taught her. I’ve seen her come out of her shell and make a genuine friend unexpectedly. So I know a little about girls. But I still get all awkward around them. Just ask my wife. She thinks I’m weird. But she gets me. Even if she doesn’t know what a Nintendo 64 is.

The Other ChristyThe Other Christy by Oliver Phommovanh
For the last two years, Christy Ung has been in the same class as the loud-mouthed Christie Owens, and now it’s third time unlucky in 6C. Christie Owens is the popular one so everybody calls Christy Ung, the Other Christy. When Christie is ditched by her besties, the two girls who share a name strike an unlikely friendship, but Christy soon realises that she and her new friend are worlds apart. Will the two girls ever have more in common than just their name?

Being political

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I’ve wanted to write something about marriage equality and the election for some time now. Whenever I attempt to write a piece, though, a voice in my head tells me not to be so political. It’s a neat trick. Conservatives politicise the way I live and the way I love, then make me feel as though it’s inappropriately political to speak from my own experiences.

As a result, I’ve written nothing.

And when you write nothing, you relinquish the pen to somebody else. Somebody who says that he, as a heterosexual white male with “very strong religious views”, encounters the same “dreadful hate speech and bigotry” as LGBT Australians.

With the Coalition’s expected return to power will come an expensive plebiscite over whether marriage equality should be granted. Yes, a federally funded opinion poll asking whether two consenting adults should be allowed to marry is ludicrous, but the plebiscite will be so much more. It will be about the validity of homosexual love, the acceptability and quality of homosexual parenting, and a whole load of other homophobic concerns.

It will finally put a numeric value on the disdain some people have for same-sex-attracted people. See, even if it is overwhelmingly successful … Like, let’s say 70% vote in favour of marriage equality, it will still stand as a reminder to every gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex, asexual, questioning person, adult or child, that 30% of Australians disapprove of them.

I might not ever get married, but I want marriage equality. I do not believe in trickle-down economics, but I believe in trickle-down morality. So long as our politicians debate and bicker over whether LGBT Australians ought to have equal rights under the law, the homophobic fringes of society are vindicated.

Marriage equality will change attitudes, and … Sorry, Fred Nile, but it will also change schools. Male and female teachers will have husbands and wives respectively. More kids with same-sex parents will enrol. Kids who’ve been to gay weddings will know that they can be just as boring. ‘Gay’ will eventually lose its meaning as a slur.

And let’s be honest, schools do need to change. My heart shouldn’t skip a beat when I hear a teacher say something about respecting the LGBT community at an Anglican school assembly (last week). I shouldn’t have a librarian tell me how much she enjoyed The Sidekicks and boast about encouraging teachers to borrow it because it was on their ‘Adults-Only’ shelf.

We’re being left behind by the rest of the world. I feel it now. I felt it last year, when I toured with a gay author from the United States. Having read their bio, a teacher at a secular school approached us and delicately implied that it would not be appropriate for this author to talk about certain things, because “there were square parents at their school”. Having seen this author speak for a few days, I was beginning to feel inspired to come out professionally myself – that incident alone pushed me back into the closet until earlier this year and … we all know what happened then.

My heart breaks just thinking about the students who are affected by those same … “square parents”.

On the other side, Bill Shorten has said that marriage equality will be the first law Labor passes if the party wins the election. It makes me deeply uncomfortable that a party that was in power three short years ago is now dangling equal treatment under the law as some eleventh-hour sweetener in a marathon election campaign.

If the alternative is a divisive plebiscite, on top of the parallel importation of books and the general feeling that our parliament is some unfunny Benny Hill skit, I’m game.

WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT [Review]

Whiskey Tango FoxtrotWhile Whiskey Tango Foxtrot releases in Australia today, it’s been out for two months in the United States. An Australian review is pretty much moot at this point. There’s nothing I can say that the internet hasn’t already: It’s a great film; it hits its dramatic beats and lands plenty of laughs; Tina Fey carries the film as Kim Baker, the journalist whose memoir The Taliban Shuffle the film is based on; and Margot Robbie is aces.

While it is a film about the absurd realities of war, what shines through most is its exploration of people whose livelihoods depend on attention, say, journalists who need their stories to make it to air. It fuels you, and it’s addictive, and you begin to do things you wouldn’t normally do to achieve and sustain it. It’s something I experienced first-hand as a celebrity journalist, and something I still have to keep in check when writing on social media. There’s always the urge to push the envelope further, for the extra favourite, the extra retweet. It’s easy to justify, you’re just doing your job, but you can lose yourself in it.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot says, “Don’t.”

Goodbyes and Good Wives

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I’m a big believer in endings. I won’t start a story without a final scene in mind, or at the very least, an inkling of where I want the characters to end up. Because endings change the way we look at everything that comes before them, and let’s face it, how many back flips you manage is far less impressive if you don’t stick the landing.

The Good Wife ended its seven-year run today, and it didn’t stick the landing. Creators Robert and Michelle King had explanations at the ready: in the end, their good wife became a little bad. In the series’ pilot, she stood by her husband during a press conference, then, in private, she slapped him as soon as they were offstage. In the finale, once again, she stood by her husband during a press conference, then, in private, she was slapped by a co-worker.

“The victim becomes the victimiser,” the Kings explained.

Visually, the show was suggesting Alicia had morphed into her corrupt husband, Peter, or at least, was morphing into him. The Kings often teased that the show was about “the education of Alicia Florrick”, and this is apparently what they meant. While yes, Alicia has hardened over the years, the show has never been about her Walter White-ification, and to suggest that in the final minutes is to retcon her entire character journey.

There are so many moving parts in television (read: actors) that it’s often hard for creators to realise their end-games as they first intend them. In departing the series, Josh Charles (Will Gardner) gave the Kings their greatest season (the fifth), but also, robbed the series of one of its main narrative thrusts: the love-triangle between Will, Alicia and Peter. At first, the series meandered, as Alicia struggled to come to terms with a world without her Plan B, and it worked. It was the truest representation of sudden, unexpected grief I have ever seen on television. Alicia withdrew. To me, her grief manifested in her distancing herself. The sixth season’s political plotline separated her from the rest of the cast even further. When it came time to put its pieces back together, the show was struggling to get its cast members in the same room without CGI and had resorted to throwing male love interests at Alicia hoping one would stick.

While the story beats are there to suggest a darkening of Alicia Florrick, she never really darkened. Sure, she drank a little more, she was a little more sarcastic, and she didn’t cry when she found out about her husband’s latest possible affair, but really, that’s hardly her ”moving in the direction where there wasn’t much difference between who [she] was and who her husband was”. I mean, just this season, we’ve had her forays in bond court, her creation of a small firm to pursue the cases that mattered to her … those were the pursuits of a woman damaged by a foray into politics, looking to do what she felt was right. The bad stuff inspired her to rebuild herself, to do good on her own terms.

That’s why it’s devastating that after seven years of her “education”, she abandoned her husband onstage for another man. No, the shadow of another man she mistook for her lover. A series about a woman rediscovering her agency, re-entering the workforce after raising children, and finding her voice, ended with her acting on the advice of a dead man (Ghost Will, who features prominently) to finally end her marriage to one man, to pursue a new man, while trapped in another man’s political web (Eli has been organising her political donors without her knowing!). Somewhere in the finale, there’s a story about a woman who, no matter how powerful she feels, is still powerless.

But with a slap, the Kings made it about her transformation into her husband, and the ending doesn’t fit the story they’ve been telling. Unfortunately for us, endings change the way we look at everything that comes before them.

The Vegetarian and the Meatlover by the BrigoPotatoes

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Today was my final day as Writer In Residence at Brigidine St Ives. I was sad to say goodbye, but as one last hurrah, the Year Sevens united to produce what they believed to be the best worst romance ever written. Selected at random, students contributed a sentence each, while I stood to one side shouting encouragement. I now present you with the fruits of their labour, The Vegetarian and the Meatlover by the BrigoPotatoes:

Victoria walked past the butcher with disgust, how could be so cruel, she would never go in in her life. As she was looking through the window she saw her reflection in the window, no it was gross. The boy in the shop was looking at her through the shop window. Her eyes melted as she gazed into his beautiful eyes. As she was taken back to reality she knew that she could never be with him. She wanted to go in now but knew she couldn’t. he watched as her curly orange hair disappeared into the distance. He would never see that georgeous face again. The reason she left was cause she literally puked on the pavement.She saw him chowing down on a piece of steak as he licked his lips in delight,YUK! As she glanced back at him she pondered ‘ could I ever become a meateater?’ but she pushed that horrid thought away. She started to walk away from the shop until she had a thought, “Do I love him”? She laughed at herself in disgust and ran away, the boy saw her and ran after her luscious locks. The next day, I walked arcross the carb shop and I noticed a familiar face and tall figure. He leans across the counter to grab hid big bread loaf that’s my favouriyte she said. He waved at her and she blushed at the sight of his biceps. “Hello, my name is Wayne!”
‘Wow, that’s an amazing name! My name is Victoria. She sighed dreamily without knowing it.
He pushed his thick blonde hair out of his face showing his tunning crystal eyes, how could anyone be as beautiful as the human infront of her? Maybe?
“why are you following me?”
“you dropped somemthin.”
“IM A VEGETARIAN!!!!! I DON’T EAT MEAT!!”
He thought about this for a minute in his head, now he couldn’t be more attracted to her than ever but suddenly his girlfriend came around and hugged him. Then suddenly, Victorias mum, a nun walked in, and stared at the three.
“whats gping on ere you lovebirds?” she said
“he is a meat eater I do not love him momma” Victoria said with a huff>. The disgust Victoria saw on her mothers face was absolutely hallarious, the thought of eating an animal was atrocious.
“come on darling we have to go home to feed your dog”
“don’t you mean Tiana-Kyle Umpa?”
She stared back in horroer as wayn and his girlfriend kissed. She thought to her self “ I thought I loved him” then she told him that she was ay to pretty to have him as her girlfriend!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Beautiful. Georgeous, even.