Will Kostakis: Old Boy, New Man

By Rueben Agius, William Cordwell

Will Kostakis, author and Old Newingtonian is the author of many books, including The Sidekicks, The First Third and Loathing Lola. He met with a year 11 class and discussed his time at Newington as a student, his books and his tips on writing. He was very entertaining to listen to, especially when he talked about his time as a Newington student. 

Kostakis began his writing career when he was in Year 12. He wrote an email to several major publishers saying he had a book for them to publish (which he actually didn’t), and six months passed before he got a response. The publishing companies asked for the first chapter, which, of course, he didn’t have. Panicked, he quickly wrote a chapter and took it to the librarian. She told him it was terrible, but there was one line that she liked, and that he should keep trying to develop it. He did, and several weeks later he sent it back to the publishers. They loved it, though they had thought he had written a whole novel, so they asked for more within a ten day turnaround. He quickly put something together, and sent it to the publishers yet again. They responded, saying that it was nowhere near as good as the first chapter, but they believed he has potential and so they funded him and he decided to continue writing his book. Kostakis then went onto to publish his first book, selling a total of ten copies, seven of which he bought.

Kostakis attempted to write more books after that, but none drew the attention of publishers. He then decided to abandon his writing career and become a journalist. He worked for a variety of companies, including Channel Nine, where he wrote their celebrity gossip column. He revealed some facts about celebrities, and he confessed these were almost appropriated off articles from the U.S. One of these was an article claiming that Arnold Schwarzenegger was a Neo-Nazi. His boss simply said that if an American company said it, then they should follow suit. Schwarzenegger was in fact, not a Neo-Nazi, and so his lawyer sent a cease and desist message to Kostakis.

This experience triggered him to rethink his career, and so he left what was a short stint in journalism to have another shot at writing. His next book was based off his grandmother. The inspiration for this book was an experience he had with her at homeware store Spotlight, where she was asking for “high quality sheets” but with her thick Greek accent it came across very differently. Kostakis ran with this and developed his experience into a story. He decided the main character would be his eccentric grandmother, this time with a bucket list. However, it would not be a regular bucket list, but rather a list of things she wants to do to fix her family before she passes away. This later became the novel, The First Third.

Like many authors, Kostakis remarked that ideas for his books derive from real life, and that the key to writing good books is motivation and literary devices. Some of his favourites include the use of metaphors, alliteration, simile and personification. 

As well as enjoying writing, Kostakis also revealed a far more personal side to his writing. When he was in Year 10, his best and only friend passed away. He was left with an immense amount of grief, and was desperate to get back on track with his life. In this talk, he confessed that he did not know what to do since he always discussed life with his friend. Especially, about his own aspirations for becoming a famous author and his friend becoming his agent. His death shattered this ideology, forcing Kostakis to rethink his life. 

Will Kostakis is an all ‘round great guy and talented author who has had an interesting career in writing, and is the author of many critically-acclaimed novels. We thank Will for his time and commitment to LitFest yet again.