Q&A :: Beau Kondos :: The Path of the Lost

October 02, 2018

Last week I shared my thoughts on the mind-blowing fantasy #loveozya novel The Path of the Lost, by Melbourne author Beau Kondos. Today I've go a little interview with Beau to share, as he was kind enough to answer some questions for me about his book and writing. Check it out below =)

Do you remember when the idea for The Path of the Lost  first came to you and what inspired you to write it?
I remember constantly struggling to pay attention during some of my university lectures; instead I’d slip into a recurring daydream of a character that had fallen into another world, which became the Cosm in my novel. The Cosm’s ban on creative expression came to me while I was studying a range of media and social theories. The theorists couldn’t agree if representations and art did more harm than good. I wanted to explore this clash of ideas further and discover whether the Cosm would be a utopia or dystopia or something in-between. I also wanted to exhibit art’s potential for change, by creating a place where its power could be literally harnessed and released into the world as a form of magic.

Most of the book is set in a different place, but the story starts in Melbourne. Was it important to you that your story was anchored in Melbourne, and that this was recognisable for the reader?

The National Gallery of Victoria called to me as a powerful symbol of caged colour waiting to be discovered. It literally looks like a grim fortress from the outside but if you give it a chance you’ll be rewarded with what’s tucked away inside. It's one of my favourite places in the city and anyone can easily spend a day there losing themselves in other people’s imaginations. I knew this building was going to be the heart of my story, and it also tied nicely with my longing to see Melbourne as base for a fantasy story, which is something I hadn’t come across before.

You have created a really detailed new world for your story, including societal structure, religion, mythology, as well as the physical setting. As a reader your world felt really complete. How do you keep track of the world you've created, and what is possible in it?

One of my writing teachers first introduced me to the metaphor of an iceberg when it came to writing a novel. The finished book is just the tip, but the larger monstrosity made up of tens of thousands of words is hidden beneath the surface. This includes the backstory of the characters and the rules governing the fictional universe that the readers will never get to see. I spent a lot of time planning out the rules and ironing out any inconsistencies and contradictions that I could think of in a sibling document, a compendium of sorts. I never believed my teacher when she first told me about the iceberg, but it's definitely true for my work.

I loved the idea of creativity containing so much power to people who know how to get to it. The Delver in The Path of the Lost, Zynthia, seems to prefer to Delve through painting, although we see her Delve in other ways too. If you were a Delver which form of creativity do you think you would draw on most?

Far out, that's a tough one! I really respect and admire people who can master any craft of the hand, whether it's painting or sculpture or playing an instrument. But for me, I think the dream would be learning how to sing. I mean, I sing all the time and I feel sorry for the people exposed to my horrible sound-vomit, but if I could do it professionally it’d be so awesome. Professional singers have a gift of expressing and sharing human emotion that conjures instantaneous goosebumps. I also think it's the most effective and direct way to communicate and release the pain or bliss you're building up inside, and this idea inspired the powerful hilltop scene in my first book.

Did you set out to tell this story for a young adult audience, and if so was there a reason you wanted to write for that age group?

I've always been drawn to YA novels, partly because of their pacing and nostalgia but also because of the genius behind how they capture timely issues using fantasy worlds as metaphors. Not in a preachy way, because younger readers can see that a mile away, but as an effective means to engage younger readers and get them thinking about bigger philosophical issues. 

Are you currently working on something new that you can tell us about?

I'm working on the next installment of the series, which is keeping me super busy! I've also got an idea for a picture book collaboration but it's still in its early stages.

Lastly, I'd love to know what you are currently reading, or something that you have read lately and loved?
I’m currently reading And the Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness with some striking and poetic illustrations by Melbourne based artist Rovina Cai. I'm a big fan of Ness's wordplay but this isn’t a juvenile picture book. It’s dark and intense and I love the way the art enhances the story with a voice of its own. I only just started it but I hear the ending is a shocker.

Thanks again so much to Beau for taking the time to answer my questions!
The Path of the Lost is out now from Black Inc (KoHR Media), and you can find Beau online here.

xo Bron

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