A Limelight interview by Nalini Haynes
Hi, I’m Nalini Haynes, your host for Dark Matter Zine‘s podcast. Today I’m putting Will Kostakis in the limelight. The podcast (MP3) is at the top of this post and the video (MP4) is just below. Later a transcript will be available; my apologies for Will’s hotel internet, which wasn’t the best so he’s a little fuzzy in places. It was out of our control.
In 2005 when he was still in high school, Will won the Sydney Morning Herald Young Writer of the Year award for a collection of short stories.
His debut novel, Loathing Lola, was released a few years later. His 2nd novel, The First Third, is about a Greek boy living in Australia; it won the Gold Inky Award and was shortlisted for the Children’s Book Council of Australia Award. His latest novel, Sidekicks, has a diverse cast including a scholarship boy and a gay guy but it was Will coming out himself that caused controversy.
You’ve been writing and getting published since you were in high school; how did you know you wanted to become a writer?
How did you, as a high school student, get published?
Published writers in Australia are usually straight white men but you only tick 1 of those 3 boxes; have you experienced any unusual hurdles to getting published?
Growing up as a gay Greek, did you see many — or any — characters in books and on the screen with whom you identified?
Why is representation important?
Have you seen poor representation or representation that you found repugnant?
What impact do those characters have?
Let’s talk about Sidekicks. What can you tell us about the story without giving away huge spoilers?
Your novels have received tremendous recognition. Sidekicks has been widely acclaimed within the community — I expect it will be shortlisted for awards and possibly win some awards — and yet coming out as gay yourself has caused some controversy.
Why do you think your novel Sidekicks was acceptable to Catholic schools but not you as a guest speaker once they knew you’re gay?
What impact do you think this has on young queer people?
Do you intend to write more stories about diverse characters?
Who are your favorite queer characters in any medium?
What stories inspire you?
Lito Rodriguez in Sense8 vs Captain Jack from Doctor Who: who would win?
That last question totally bombed so the editing minion left it on the cutting room floor. However, I loved Will’s response: ‘Why do they have to fight each other?’
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that a Catholic shool cancelled Will’s visit after he came out as gay on his blog. The day I researched the interwebs for Will’s visit, the ABC reported that another Christian school kicked a former student captain out of a church service for looking too gay. We didn’t get into this in Will’s interview because I wanted his interview to be about Will, Will’s writing and equity but I thought I’d mention it and include links here as it’s relevant to our discussion.