Beyond the ‘brow: An interview with William Kostakis

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A blurb it reader recently put together some interview questions for William Kostakis, who kindly agreed to share some of his wit with us. Here’s how it panned out.

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Reader: Your novel, Loathing Lola, deals with themes of commercialism, exploitation and mainstream media, and how teenagers are swept up in a fabricated world of hype and gossip. Do you think there’s a serious problem with teenagers being suckered into consumer culture? If so, how can we fight the good fight against it? (Ooh, political.)

Kostakis: Loathing Lola is a product of its time. It began as a story about a girl and the stepmother from hell – I know, my originality astounds me too. Having it all play out in front of cameras was just my way of adding a little more spice, but it ended up adding much more than spice. It changed my thematic focus completely.

I’m torn when asked a question like this though, because on the one hand, as an author shamelessly flogging a $17 novel to kids, I shouldn’t have a problem with teens being suckered into consumer culture. I mean, I’m suckered into it. I’ve had a steady job since I was 14, but only have $450 in savings. Books, CDs, DVDs, chuck a shiny Limited Edition sticker on it and I’m there with my wallet out. What I think my serious problem with the consumer culture is that we’re consuming things we shouldn’t be. People’s private lives have become commodities. We’ve always had an unhealthy obsession in other people’s lives, gossip wasn’t invented by the tabloid press and A Current Affair – it’s just now, some people are checking PerezHilton.com more frequently than they’re checking news sites, and certain members of the younger generations are living vicariously through their idols. Instead of admiring talent and appreciating personality, we’re craving intimate details and relishing personal drama.

We’ve gone from consuming objects to consuming lives – we’re living vicariously through ‘celebrity’. Just because you star in a successful movie, or ‘sing’ a catchy song, doesn’t mean you forfeit your right to privacy. Reality TV didn’t cause this, but the move from scripted programming to low-budget fly-on-the-wall depictions of ‘real-life events’ really exemplifies the move away from purchasing ‘product’ to purchasing ‘person’.

How can we fight the good fight against it? Simply put, I have absolutely no idea. I think we’ll just grow tired of it. It’ll take a while, I mean, it took us how many years to grow tired of watching stereotypes do nothing but sit on a couch in a house and look pretty?

Reader: That said, do you have a favourite reality-TV show? Have you found yourself “accidentally” watching Big Brother, then suddenly wondering what happened to the last hour?

Kostakis: Hated Big Brother. My brother always used to watch it during dinner – excruciating. Now, a show like Ladette to Lady, that’s my kind of show. Before you start thinking I’m a dirty-minded perve, remember, I am a 19-year-old and I won’t say no to a bit of booby in my programming. Hilariously trashy displays aside, I think it embraces being a tacky reality programme and runs with it. There’s the overtly-scripted teacher exchanges, the ridiculous drama – it completely takes the piss out of the genre’s conventions. Watching it, I know exactly where my last hour’s gone – watching fiction. The danger of reality programming is that an alarming number of people hear ‘reality’ and think ‘truth’.

Reader: Is there a real-life Katie Watson out there? If so, what would she do to you if you publicly named her?

Kostakis: Ah, Katie Watson, how many arguments with publishers you caused… Believe it or not, Katie Watson was originally based on a friend of mine, a male friend. The sharp wit, dirty mind, rampant alcoholism. Over the years, she’s been feminised, as I’ve stolen traits from close female friends and burdened her with them. She’s become an amalgamation of a lot of my friends’ worst/best traits (depending on your perspective). She’s the ultimate good-time girl, the friend you hang out with that instantly makes you laugh your head off. Unfortunately, she’s such a personality Frankenstein that there isn’t a Katie Watson in my life.

Reader: Katie Watson meets a sparkly vampire. What happens next?

Kostakis: William gets sued?

For one, she probably wouldn’t fall unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him, on account of not carrying a thesaurus and, like most teenagers, not knowing what the hell ‘irrevocably’ even means. Plus, she doesn’t do pastey.

Reader: You’re probably at least slightly self-conscious about your current status as “19-year-old author”. How do you feel about that?

Kostakis: I’ve only got a couple more months before ’20-year-old author’ kicks in, so I’m soaking up as much of this teenager author status as I can. As I’ve said in each of my interviews, I’m letting all the attention get to my head, in the hopes that my head enlarges and my outlandishly large Greek features are finally in proportion with it.

Reader: So, now that you’ve made it out of High School, and into University, how are you finding it so far? Can we expect an Aussie answer to Brideshead Revisited any time soon?

Kostakis: University is great. I mean, twelve hours a week, spread over two days – and they have the audacity to call it full-time study! I’m actually working on a TV show at the moment, by which I mean I’m drafting scripts and telling everyone so that I end up catching a producer’s attention and it becomes a TV show, and it’s where I’m chucking all my Uni stories. I feel television is the more appropriate medium, because Uni’s sort of the In-Between. We’re the ages between Young Adult and Adult books, and we’re too busy drinking, I mean, studying ‘full-time’, to read many books for pleasure. We’re far larger consumers of television.

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Catch more Kostakis-style humour over at his blog, and stay tuned for information about Gold Coast City Council libraries’ Literati events in May, where Loathing Lola‘s creator will be a guest at our literary dinner with a difference!

PS. Find out why we chose a reference to eyebrows for the title of this post at William’s blog.

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One Response to “Beyond the ‘brow: An interview with William Kostakis”

  1. Beyond the ‘brow: An interview with William Kostakis « William Kostakis Says:

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