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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 21 November 2015
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 21 NOVEMBER 2015 17 FEATURE A constant journey of self-discovery Will Kostakis, award-winning author of The First Third, pens a heartfelt story about being bound to your friends and your enemies NELLY SKOUFATOGLOU Isaac, Ryan, Harley and Miles aren't four best friends, they're three guys with the same best friend. When Isaac dies, the other boys have to learn to fill the space he's left in each other's lives. But after so many years of being sidekicks, it's hard to be a star ... Will Kostakis' new book The Sidekick comes out on 29 February. The novel draws on one of the author's most personal experiences. His best friend passed away before year 11. In the following few months, Will penned a heartfelt collection of short stories which garnered him the Writer of The Year Award. "This book is really looking at what it is like to lose a friend at that age and shows how boys grieve," he says. "It was the saddest but also one of the funniest moments in my life that also helped me grow up." Will, now in his mid-20s, has been writing for as long as he can remember. His happiest primary school memories revolve around writing a particular story every year. "It wasn't about year 7 that I decided this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life," he tells Neos Kosmos. "I wrote a novel, sent it off to publishers and even though they thought it was rubbish, I kept writing and subbing it. I did not stop until I got a publishing deal at the end of my last year in high school." The talented writer pens books for young adults, which are also read, understood and enjoyed by people in their 30s or upwards, even experiences. I feature characters of all ages, even though the main protagonists are teenagers," Will explains. "My goal however, is to realistically present and represent my generation. Reading books growing up, I never saw myself reflected in any of them." Kostakis likes his stories to be universal. His in their 40s and 50s. The main characters in his novels are teenagers, but at the same time, they reflect on the same issues we come across in life over and over again. To Will, adolescence is a period we will always go back to, mainly because we never fully delve into our problems and experiences at the time, so we have to go back. "I write young adult books mainly because these were mostly the stories I liked to read when I first started writing," Will explains. However, he feels we are all "adult-looking teenagers". "I realised that when I looked at my mum and saw a 15-year-old who just looks older." He believes children and teenagers are constantly trying to grow up and start acting in ways they perceive an adult should, which is why young adult books the likes of the Harry Potter and Twilight series have such an appeal regardless of the readership's age. "The actual moment of growing up ... adulthood ... doesn't ever happen at all. "We are somehow forced to give up on those feelings and grow up, which is why we relate to these stories." In his latest book, Will writes about finding out who you are through a life-changing, devastating experience, through friendship and mourning. His heroes - Isaac, Ryan, Harley and Miles - aren't four best friends, they're three guys with the same best friend. When Isaac passes away, they have to set their differences aside and console each other. In this book, the author has matured and takes his writing style one step further. "I generally draw heavily on my family Greek characters will remind their readers of their own family members and friends, who can be Italian, Czech, American, Lebanese, Vietnamese, etc. "My Greek grandmother can be just like your posh English grandmother," Will says laughing. "We may have different customs and words to describe things but at the end of the day we are all the same." Even though he feels "the . Greekness finds a way to slip into everything" he does, he wants to break the stereotypical perception of Greeks in Australia. His dream is to one day write a TV show with second and third generation Greek Australian characters. "I grew up watching Acropolis n Now, the golden age of Greeks on TV, and there hasn't really been something since that's actually matched it," he says. "Old-school Greeks still exist, but our voices, the stories of people who identify as Australians with Greek families aren't really being heard. It's a different Greek experience now." Integrating his culture into books based on personal experiences is extremely important to Will, who Awarded author Will Kostakis. wants to motivate and inspire young adults by making them feel they are not alone. "If there is hope or a positive lesson in the story, the more realistic the characters are, the easier it is for the reader to absorb that message and identify with a hero." "In the books that I do I want Greek Australians as well as everyone else to read my stories and be like ‘yes, this is what it is to be Greek in today's Australia’." The cover of Kostakis’ new novel The Sidekicks, out 29 February 2016.
28 November 2015