LOATHING LOLA

Okay, I know I’m a bit behind the times – Loathing Lola has been out for a while now, but over the holidays I scaled the mountain of books on my ‘to be read’ pile and discovered this debut YA novel by William Kostakis’.

Loathing Lola was full of surprises right from the start. Leopard-clad Lola was not who I expected her to be from the title, but she was a great character nonetheless – someone who was colourful and memorable and the lynch pin for  important plot points in the story.

In spite of the name of the book, this is not Lola’s story. Loathing Lola is about fifteen-year-old Courtney Marlow who thinks that starring in a reality show on national television will solve her mum’s financial problems and allow her to be a positive role model for teens across Australia.

Courtney is hoping to show that many kids her age live a ‘normal’ life without boob jobs and eating disorders. But Courtney’s life is far from ordinary. Her boyfriend died recently in a car accident and her new stepmother Lola seems intent on becoming a major part of her life.

She also has to deal with the conniving Katie and at times the reader’s not the only one wondering whether Katie is actually a friend. Luckily for Courtney, she has a reliable friend in Katie’s twin, Tim as well as a hunky new love interest who might just be the guy to help her get over her recent tragic loss.

In Loathing Lola, things aren’t quite what they seem to be and there are plenty of clever twists and turns in the story that keep you guessing till the end.

Courtney is a very believable character who readers will care about and she has an engaging authentic voice — hardly surprising seeing as author, William Kostakis was just nineteen when Loathing Lola was published.

The dialogue and setting are also very real, as are the problems faced by the main character.

This clever book is laced with humour to darken the lighter moments and is a satire on both Australian culture and reality tv. The laughs begin right from the start at the funeral of Courtney’s boyfriend when the irrational Chloe tries to lay claim to the dead guy.

The foreshadowing in Loathing Lola is effective and the tension gives the reader a sense of foreboding amidst the humour – the feeling that unless something changes, things might not end well.

Loathing Lola is published by Pan MacMillan.

CBCA NSW 2010: Assorted Snaps

Some other snaps from the Conference:

Bob Graham took us through his life and his life’s works. He was then treated to orchestrated interpretations of four of his picture books (composed and conducted by George Ellis) including How To Heal A Broken Wing



Ursula Dubosarsky and Tohby Riddle took to the stage to discuss the process behind their smash-hit, The Words Spy, and its sequel, Return of the Word Spy.



Sandy Fussell, author of the recent Jaguar Warrior talked all things Internet…



… with Boomerang Books’ own Dee White, author of Letters to Leonardo and helmer of Kids’ Book Capers.

Queen Victoria made a rare posthumous appearance at the book launch of Queen Victoria’s Underpants, Jackie French and Bruce Whatley’s latest.

Okay… so I almost went a full festival without making myself the centre of attention – Margaret Hamilton looks on as I, the youngest member of the CBCA NSW Committee, and Maurice Saxby, the oldest living former CBCA NSW Committee member, cut the cake for the CBCA NSW’s 65th.

The cake in question before Maurice and I hacked it to bits. For the record, it was delicious.

CBCA NSW 2010: An event like no other

Jackie French, me, Bruce Whatley

The CBCA NSW Conference… wow.

I’ve been to my fair share of festivals, but never before have I been to one that felt so inclusive. Authors and other attendees weren’t separated. My experience with other festivals, as both speaker and attendee, has been that after sessions, speakers disappear to green rooms, never to be seen when they’re not onstage. The CBCA NSW Committee (and I’ll register my bias now: I’m on it) abolished the green room for the Conference, and what a difference it made. It felt like a gathering of equals: there were authors, publishers, librarians, teachers, booksellers, students all amassed togher and relating to each other as children’s book lovers.

I was speaking with Susanne Gervay (author of the sensational I Am Jack and its sequels, not on the Committee, so there isn’t an obvious bias), and she put it perfectly:

“I really loved the set up where everyone could get together.”

And we did come together. Authors talked process (with the behind-the-scenes workings of picture book partnerships), and politics (keynote speaker Libby Gleeson with the quote of the Conference: ‘What’s the point of building an education revolution, and building libraries, if there are no teacher librarians in those buildings?’)

While there’s no way to cover the entirety of the Conference, I will write about a selection of moments that really struck me. And there were many moments. It really was the perfect place to be perpetually adolescent…

[Note: If I don’t look particularly happy in photos, disregard it… Mum’s pulled me up on smiling like Mr Bean in pics, so I’m trying to dial down the rubber-faced grin from ear to ear. Right now, I’m having difficulty finding the attractive median between ‘rubber face’ and ‘serial killer’. Case in point, I’m giddy in the above photo to be meeting Jackie French (an icon) and Bruce Whatley… can you tell? Haha. PS, this is their new book, which was launched at the Conference.]

New bloggers appointed at Boomerang Books

Boomerang Books has appointed seven new bloggers to its book content team after receiving over 90 applications from eager writers.

‘The standard of applications received was quite amazing and we found it very difficult to narrow the field down to a manageable shortlist’, said Clayton Wehner, Managing Director and co-owner of Boomerang Books.

‘It was even harder to settle on the final seven bloggers from a shortlist of about thirty.  In fact, we originally set out to appoint only five bloggers, but we couldn’t split a couple of the applicants.  It took us several weeks of deliberation to arrive at the final seven’.

‘What’s most impressive is the fact that the positions were only advertised via social media mechanisms and, in particular, Twitter.  The writing community is a close-knit one and news of the positions spread like wildfire through ‘re-tweeting’.  We were inundated with applications and we certainly didn’t expect to receive so many’.

The bloggers have already starting producing their own themed blogs on the Boomerang Books website:

The Book Burglar. Brisbane-based Fiona Crawford is a freelance writer, editor, blogger, proofreader, and voracious reader. She is also (unfairly) known as the Book Burglar due to her penchant for buying family members—then permanently borrowing—books she wants to read herself.  Fiona’s blog revolves around Australian books (mostly ‘lifted’ from friends’ bookshelves).

Kid’s Book Capers. Melburnian Dee White is the award-winning children’s and YA author of Hope for Hanna, A Duel of Words, Letters to Leonardo and Harry’s Goldfield Adventure. Her blog explores great children’s books and the people who create them.

Poisoned Apples and Smoking Caterpillars. Aimee Burton is a Canberra-based lawyer-in-training who still dreams of befriending unicorns. Her blog is her escape from reality, and hopefully it will inspire her to finish writing that fantasy trilogy she’s always promising her friends is “almost halfway” done.

Read up on it. Sadhbh Warren is a freelance writer and proud booklover. Her name is pronounced Sive – like five – an Irish name, easier to say than spell.  She lives in Sydney, writing travel and humour articles, and is always on the lookout for a great new book.

Literary Clutter. Bookish bloggings from the cluttered mind and bookshelf of Melbourne author, George Ivanoff. George’s current teen novel is the computer-game inspired Gamers’ Quest.

Perpetually Adolescent. Sydney-based blogger William Kostakis (who doubles as Boomerang Books’ brand manager) is an award-winning, twenty-year-old young adult fiction author. His debut title, Loathing Lola, was released in 2008.   His blog deals with all things YA.

The Smell of Books. Sydney-based writer and editor Joel Blacklock is Boomerang Books’ new tech blogger. He’s passionate about the possibilities Web 2.0, social media and ebooks open up for authors, publishers, booksellers and the whole book industry.

The appointment of the seven bloggers is part of Boomerang Books’ ongoing content development strategy.

‘Content is king on the web and we’re focused on creating something that is more than just a standard e-commerce website.  We want to become Australia’s favourite destination for book lovers – not just a place where people go to buy books.  We’re committed to producing quality, thought-provoking content and instilling a sense of community for our members and visitors.’

‘We’re really happy with our new group of bloggers.  We’ve got a good spread of themes and we’ve got representation across Australia.  All of the bloggers were champing at the bit to publish their first blog posts and the quality of the early articles has been fantastic’.

Boomerang Books’ new blogs can be found online at http://content.boomerangbooks.com.au/content/main/boomerang-books-blogs.shtml.

Boys & Body Image: A Reflection On Shane’s Post

I think, as a twenty-year-old, I can still speak for this current teenage, male generation – even just a small, nerdy, poetry/novel-writing subsection of it.

Body image is everything.

I remember hearing once that boys feel the pressure more than girls, for two reasons: 1. for girls, it is accepted to have these issues, and 2. while girls have the ‘get slim’ clouding over them, boys are burdened with the ‘get slim, but also gain muscle’, which results in over-exercise and strain. Not to diminish the experience of girls battling body issues, I can only speak as a young male, but I remember that in the lead up to my novel’s release, I wasn’t busy writing a follow-up, I was consuming protein shakes, exercising five days a week, restricting calorie intake, feeling guilty for a beer or a soft drink – and it caught up with me, I slipped two discs in my lower back, and that’s an injury that will restrict me for the rest of my life. Because being a teenage author wasn’t enough. At least, in my mind it wasn’t.

And when men explore these body issues in articles or novels, the response is usually ‘oh, boo hoo, poor baby’, when that same exploration by a woman is lauded as brave. When more realistically-shaped women attack the Jennifer Hawkins ‘real woman’ nude, undoctored spread, they’re glorified. The pressures on women are front and centre, and condemned. Meanwhile, when I’m at the gym, and I see boys almost half my age lifting weights, nobody’s telling them to stop, to have a childhood, to let their bodies mature a little bit – nobody’s fighting for them because the image of the male as ripped, toned and sporty is socially accepted as ‘right’. It’s masculine. There’s no backlash. There’s nobody praising male curves, claiming they’re all natural.

And body issue problems for males are very, very secret. Because, outward feelings don’t mesh well with the image of masculinity – strong, stoic, emotionally stunted. And I mean, just look at this rant that has developed from what was supposed to be a two paragraph closer to Shane’s post – this is a big issue, at least, for me. Books like My Private Pectus are important. While they probably won’t change the world, I’m sure that for boys battling body expectations, it means a lot to know that 1. you’re not alone and 2. there’s someone fighting for you.

Ahem. Now I’m off to make up for this post with a 7km run.

Marchetta and Lanagan vie for Sakura Medal

The nominees for the 2010 Sakura Medal have been announced in Japan, with Australian authors making the list.

In the High School category, Melina Marchetta (for her Finnikin of the Rock), Joanne Horniman (My Candlelight Novel) and Margo Lanagan (Tender Morsels) join Boomerang Books’ own William Kostakis (Loathing Lola) in the running for the Medal.

Japanese international students vote for their favourite nominee. The winners will be announced on April 28, 2010.

Margo Lanagan will be appearing on the Boomerang Books Blog early in the New Year.

William’s note: I’m deeply honoured to have been selected on the list, especially among such fine company… It’s surreal to see my name beside so many authors I grew up with, admired, and aspired to be… Now, here’s hoping an Aussie brings it home! 🙂

Boomerang @ Bookfeast 2009

Whenever William the author is invited to an event, William the Boomerang Blogger gets indirectly invited too. On Wednesday, NSW authors and illustrators braved the orange dust storm, and headed into the CBD for this year’s Bookfeast, a great event organised by Haberfield school librarian Michael Fraser.

Some Boomerang Books Blog alums were there, including Deborah Abela, Belinda Murrell, Richard Harland and Kate Forsyth. Also there was Susanne Gervay, whose I Am Jack’s stage adaptation by MonkeyBaa is on until October 2 at the Seymour Theatre and is the talk of the town, Duncan Ball, Sue Whiting, Jenny Hale, and my current favourite (and the insanely funny) illustrator Sarah Davies, who was just awarded Best New Young Illustrator by the CBCA for the powerful Mending Lucille.

Now, pictures!

Interview with GREIG BECK

Beneath the Dark Ice – pitch it in one sentence.

Taught adventure thriller with scares a plenty!

The best action/thrillers are those with more than just explosions, those that have depth, an engagement with mythology. In Beneath the Dark Ice, you play with legends like the Kraken and Atlantis, and draw on elements of Mayan and Olmec archaeology. Were these things you were interested in prior to writing the novel, or did you simply discover them during the writing process?

That’s easy – both! I was brought up on a diet of horror-thrillers and science fiction and was happiest reading or watching shows about (all cultures’) myths and legends. Even today small facts that add colour to our history jump out at me. Did you know they recently found evidence of a 16th century vampire in Venice? Buried with a paving stone jammed in her jaws to stop her coming back from the grave? Or in New Mexico, there is evidence that dinosaurs survived for nearly a million years after they became extinct everywhere else – our real Lost Valley. These little things are still ‘wow’ moments for me and add to a collection of myths and mysteries I keep with me in an ideas book.

But discovery is important as well. The (novel) writing process directs you to creating or obtaining believable details. Your readers wouldn’t let you get away with being lazy in the descriptive or exposition process… and you don’t need to be.  Research has been made easier for today’s author via the internet. It brings so much detail to you from enthusiasts, experts, and other authors, keeping your mind working the possibilities and expanding on your own knowledge.

Bottom line is, I started with a basic knowledge skeleton and once I started digging, I kept uncovering more and more flesh for the bones.

I read somewhere that your writing impulse developed out of your habit of storytelling to your son, Alex – would you say your book’s target audience is restricted to young males?

You could say the creative process started with storytelling to Alex. I’d either make up a story or read him a book, and then halfway through I’d stop and say, “What do you think happens then?” We’d have fun describing all sorts of different endings. Even though Alex is now 11, I wouldn’t let him read Beneath the Dark Ice – way too many scary scenes. I wrote the book for an audience of people who enjoyed adventure thrillers, but also like some terror included. There was no real target demographic in mind.

Who would you say were your biggest influences?

Without doubt Graham Masterton, Stephen King and Dean Koontz. And the classic sci-fi writers like Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jules Verne and Pierre Boulle.

What can you tell us about your next release, Return of the Prophet?

You actually caught me in the middle of its final editing. The 2nd book also contains Captain Alex Hunter, and this time he is sent on a mission to the Middle East. A significant radiation spike leads the US government to believe the Iranians are performing subsurface nuclear test detonations. What they find is that they have inadvertently created a miniature black hole. While they try and perfect the technology to continue to create these Dark Events they accidently open a doorway – a portal through which ‘something’ slips through. Alex has to stop the creation of the black holes before they devour the Earth and also confront the thing out in the desert. Just as much fun as the first book, and just as thrilling and frightening!

There have been comparisons made between you and other Pan Macmillan blockbuster action authors, most notably, Matthew Reilly. How do you feel you differentiate yourself from what Matthew, and others, offer in the genre?

I like to think my books are more than just thrillers. Like the other thriller writers, my books are well researched with a high degree of technological realism, but there is also a terror element that I believe gives my readers some good heart stopping scares. The best description I have heard of my style was, Matthew Reilly, with teeth!

If you could rid the world of ONE book, which would it be?

Just one?! It’s a tough question because every book has merit – even if it’s only to serve as an example of how not to do some particular thing. But… if you asked me what book made my brain hurt, well, that would be during my study days. Try reading Valuing the Firm and Strategic Acquisitions without suffering a migraine and wishing for an immediate induced coma!

Last Australian book you read?

Hey, this is no kiss-up, but it was Loathing Lola. It was a lot of fun and I’ve managed to pinch heaps of ideas. Thanks William!

If you could claim any other authors work as your own, whose would it be?

Early Stephen King. What a spread of great ideas that guy had. Whatever he was drinking at the time, i wish i could buy some.

The token filler question: What is the most valuable piece of advice you were never told?

As a writer it would be to read across genres. Though, they tell you to write what you like to read, you should also read beyond just what you’re comfortable reading. You need to experience many different forms of style and type. Some guys just do humour, pathos, fear, anger and rage, etc much better than others.

Last thing – keep a look out for lucky breaks – they do happen!

NSW Writers’ Centre: 4th Kids and YA Literature Festival (July 4-5)

Excitement is ramping up for the upcoming NSW Writers’ Centre’s two-day event, the 4th Kids and YA Literature Festival, held July 4-5. The Festival’s bringing together some of the best Australian authors and illustrators, publishers, scriptwriters and industry advocates in what has been dubbed “a celebration of story and the special world of Children’s Literature”.

I was lucky enough to have been invited as a guest speaker, but honestly, I’m far more excited about the company I keep, which includes Melina Marchetta, Garth Nix, Kate Forsyth (check out our interview here), Libby Gleeson, James Roy (check out our exclusive interview here), and Ursula Dubosarsky.

It’s shaping up to be a dynamic weekend. The Saturday is the day for the traditional Festival goings-on, speeches and panels, while the Sunday is dedicated to workshops, industry consultations and manuscript assessments with some of the best in the writing community.

So, Sydneysiders, if you’d like to meet me and other (read: more important) figures in the Australian Children’s literary landscape, there’s more information here.

An Introduction

Hi everyone,

My name’s William Kostakis. I’ve been entrusted to help ‘throw the boomerang’. Avid followers of Boomerang Books will notice I’ll be popping up on the Twitter, Facebook, and here on the blog.

Why?

Boomerang Books prides itself on delivering a quality service to its customers, through online discounts and book giveaways, while helping promote the Australian publishing industry. It’ll be my job to produce original content for Boomerang Books over a range of different sites, but my presence will most obviously be felt here on the blog, where, if all goes to plan, we’ll be hosting exclusive author interviews, book reviews, short stories, literary event recaps – the possibilities are endless.

Here’s where you come in: What content would you like to be featured on the blog? We’ll strive to deliver that content. Who are your favourite Australian authors? We’ll hunt them down and interview them.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a nineteen-soon-to-be-twenty-year-old young adult author based in Sydney. My debut, Loathing Lola, was released last year through Pan Macmillan. I’ve been blogging (and will continue to blog) over at my own site HERE. That’s more of a ‘this is what I’m doing today’ sort of blog, but my contributions to this blog will be more… I want to say ‘journalistic’, but it seems too serious a word? I’d love for this blog to evolve into a place where Aussie authors can meet their readers and share their stories, and I look forward to hearing your suggestions.

Watch this space.

William

(And also, if you have Twitter, don’t forget to start following us HERE. I’m looking at producing some content exclusively for our Twitter subscribers. It’s free, it’s fun and it’s horribly addictive…)

Interview with William Kostakis – author of Loathing Lola

Jack: What’s the best thing you’ve ever missed out on because you couldn’t stop writing? Sleep? A sibling’s wedding? Boston Legal?
Will: I’ve missed a few birthday parties, I know that. The angry, drunken “THAT’S IT . . . WE’RE OVER! O-V-A-H!” text messages/phone calls are never fun, but I always make sure their pressie is twice as good to make up for it. Oh, and sleep. Half of Loathing Lola was written in a sleep-deprived haze. Granted, most of the stuff I wrote at 3am was cut at 10am the next morning when I realised that making up words like “gjdhfdscdas” wasn’t so much me being inventive and postmodern so much as it was me falling asleep on top of the keyboard. I’ve yet to find the balance between having a life and writing, but I’m still young. I’ve got heaps of time to find it.

Jack: Indeed. Are any of the characters based on or inspired by people you know? And if so, did you reveal anything embarrassing about them?
Will: I’m sure some characters inherited something from people I know, but on the whole, I tried to keep my real-life friends and family separate from Courtney’s friends and family. Well, except the grandmother character. I don’t think I even attempted to disguise that inspiration. Yiayia Susie is mannerism-for-mannerism, word-for-word, an identical replica of my grandmother, Yiayia Susie (see what I said before about not even attempting to disguise it?). And she loves it. She’s got her copy of the book, and every time someone comes over, she flicks it open to one of the ear-marked pages Yiayia Susie’s featured on and forces people to read to her, one, because she’s insanely proud, and two, because she can’t read. As for revealing anything embarrassing about her, I wouldn’t dare . . . she’s a deceptively strong woman. But yeah, I’m considering just sending her around to do all my publicity. She’s a riot and plus, get her started on the “My grandson . . . ” tangent and she won’t stop.

Jack: Been there. Which do you spend more time daydreaming about – the plot of your next book, or the glory when it’s published?
Will: There’s something so exciting about plotting another book. I guess that’s the most important thing to daydream about, without the good plot, there’s no glory. But, I’m guilty of thinking about the glory WAY more than the next plot. My bad.

Jack: It’s cool, I do that too. If someone totally ripped off your idea and wrote a book just like Loathing Lola, would you be flattered, or would you come down on them with the fury of a thousand suns?
Will: I’d send Yiayia Susie after them.

Jack: (laughs) Now that you’re a huge success, are you going to drop out of uni? Or does education have some value other than procrastinating while you wait for your real life to start?

Will: Huge success? *William feels his head inflate so much that his nose is now in proportion with it.* Honestly, I love uni. Not the workload so much as everything else. All my friends are there, the bar is cheap, latenight assignmenting can actually be fun on account of said cheap bar.

Jack: Ever get good marks on those late-night cheap-bar assignments?
Will: Actually yeah, not bad.

Jack: If you ever had to write an autobiography, what bits would you exaggerate? And what bits would you leave out entirely?
Will: See, I’d never trust myself with my own autobiography. I have this idea where, if a publishing house is really desperate for a biography, I’ll round up ten friends and ten people who can’t stand the sight of me, and have them each write a chapter about me. That stops me from being a revisionist about the whole thing and smoothing over the bumps in the road, and I think it’s the only way it can be a truly honest representation of my life.

Jack: Do you ever live vicariously through your characters? Make them say things you wish you’d said, and so forth?
Will: I have this horrible habit of shooting straight from the lip, so sometimes, characters are just repeating some of the inappropriate things I’ve said. Or at least, that’s what they used to do, but the more I wrote Loathing Lola, the characters developed further . . . into people who weren’t me, and they developed different mannerisms and speech patterns, and they weren’t just mouthpieces for me to say whatever I wanted through them.
I like to think that they say whatever they want through me.

Jack: Okay. Harry Potter – so good, or no good?
Will: Azkaban is brilliant. Also a great movie. The rest are a little hit-and-miss. I mean, they’re all great the first time through, but Azkaban stands the test of re-reading. Pheonix . . . not so much. As a whole though, the series is great. I hated the epilogue though.

Jack: I thought it was okay. But I’m a sentimental old fool. So who’s your favourite writer? Is it you? Better yet, is it me?
Will: Sorry, Jack, but at the moment, it’s Terry Pratchett. The man can do no wrong. He mixes magic with side-splittingly funny innuendo. ‘Nuf said. But you ain’t too bad yourself . . .

WILLIAM INTERVIEWS JACK
Will: If you had to describe yourself, without alluding to the fact that you are both an author and freakishly young to have three books out, what would you say?
Jack: At parties I often lie about my occupation and say that I’m a concrete mixer or an etiquette consultant or a zoo enclosure analyst. But if I was being truthful, without mentioning the books, I’d say I’m just a somewhat shy uni drop-out with a lot of ideas but very little follow-through. Ironically, it’s likely no-one would believe me.

Will:The Lab and Remote Control – both action-packed, adrenaline-pumping rollercoaster rides with strong characters – which do you prefer writing . . . the mindless explosions or the character-building high-browy stuff?
Jack: Ooh, that’s a tough one. It’s hard to separate the two – the explosions are boring if the characters aren’t developed, but even well developed characters are boring if they never explode. Or nothing explodes near them, or whatever. Since you’ve forced my hand, I’d have to say I enjoy writing the action scenes most. Because I can read them again and really feel the excitement. Whereas when I read my own character-development passages, I’m just getting told things I already know.

Will:Is Money Run more of the same, genre-wise and stylistically? If not, what’s in it for fans of Agent Six of Hearts?
Jack: Money Run has the same core goals – exciting action, intricate characters, nail-biting dilemmas. But the sci-fi angle has been replaced by gritty realism, and there’s more focus on the villains. The language is more experimental, as well, and the story is told from several points of view, which is something I’ve never done before. So yeah, it’s different. Agent Six fans will just have to trust me.

Will: We all know that you spent a long time writing and perfecting The Lab . . . what was the process of writing Money Run? Were you working on it while you developed the others, or is it a fairly recent project?
Jack: I actually started Money Run when I was 17, before The Lab was published. When I was offered a contract, I put the project on hold while I edited The Lab and wrote Remote Control. That was good, because Money Run is more complex than the other books, so the break gave me time to plan. It helped the ideas mature, like a fine wine, or like a bottle of milk left out in the Sun.

Will: How do you write? Do you set time for writing, lock yourself in the attic with a bottle of wine, a pen and a stack of lined pages, or do you just wait for the bursts of creativity – usually resulting in frantic note-taking on napkins / limbs?
Jack: I set some time, and then I switch on my laptop and unplug it. It has a 90 minute battery, and I don’t get up until it shuts itself down. If I have no ideas, I do push-ups or go jogging to chase some down, and that usually gets the job done. Every now and again I wake up in the middle of the night with a great idea, and so I get out of bed, find a pen and scribble it on myself before going back to sleep. Unfortunately, in the morning, these midnight gems are usually either incomprehensible or crap.

Will: If you had to rewrite one well-known book or movie . . . which one would you choose, and what would you do?
Jack: I’d love to do a novelisation of a video game, like Portal or Metal Gear Solid. In the former I’d give the mute main character a back story; in the latter, I’d get some of the overly talkative minor characters and take their back stories away. As for movies, I’d like to rewrite something that had a good story but a bad script, like Swordfish, or Silent Hill.

Will: Say you cooked up the ideas for The Lab, Remote Control and Money Run, but were an absolutely horrible writer . . . and you could choose one writer to write them for you, who would you choose? Would they all be written by the same person?
Jack: Matthew Reilly, of course. No one else writes with that much raw energy. But I guess it would depend on which ideas I already had, because different writers are good at different things. If I’d planned out the action scenes but I needed someone to make the characters interesting, I’d choose Chuck Palahniuk. And if I had the characters already but wanted to make the book scarier, I’d pick Dean Koontz. And if I had pretty much everything but wanted to turn the books into comedies, I’d choose Scott Adams, the author of Dilbert. I think together we could make the funniest and most surreal sci-fi series in history.

Will: Something a little less mind-numbingly complicated . . . what were you doing right before this interview? Was it fun, and do you wish you were still doing it?
Jack: I was cooking. I have very little talent for it, but I make up for that with enthusiasm. Or at least, I think that makes up for it – but my friends don’t come over anymore. Not since I cooked them nachos made with cornflakes instead of corn chips.

Will: The Twilight series . . . what do you think?
Jack: I don’t like fantasy, or romance, or vampires (they’re just zombies for pansies. Diet-zombie. Zombie-lite.) As such, I’ve avoided reading Twilight – but enough people are talking about it now that maybe I should give it a chance. I liked Buffy, after all. So yeah, I’ll have to get back to you on this one.

Will: What’s next for you? Do you envision Money Run as a one-off thing? Are you interested in a sequel? Have fans of Agent Six of Hearts read the last of him?
Jack: I try to treat each book as a stand-alone thing. But the characters of Money Run all have good reason to be mad at one another by the end (those who survive, anyhow) and it’d be a shame to let that conflict go unexploited. Maybe they’ll have a chance to get even in a future book. And as for Agent Six, well, you can’t keep a good character down. I know this is a cliche, but he sometimes seems to have a life of his own – and if I stopped writing about him, he might reach out of the page and break my neck. (Never mess with a superhuman.) So I don’t think the City has heard the last of him.

William Kostakis on SKY NEWS Book Report – LOATHING LOLA

Fifteen-year-old Courtney Marlow didn’t exactly think it through. She thought the offer to have her life broadcast on national television was the perfect solution to her family’s financial troubles. She was wrong. Mackenzie Dahl, the show’s producer, promised to show Australia a real teenager. Courtney was going to be a positive role model, someone on television without a boob job and an eating disorder. But as events in her life are deviously manipulated to create drama, Courtney begins to realise that ‘ordinary’ does not translate to ‘entertaining’. Everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame via a little bit of Courtney – especially her conniving friend Katie, and her stepmother, Lola. But Courtney is not the pliant teenager everyone seems to think she is…A funny, edgy, completely compelling novel.

Here’s a free extract from the book: