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Penmanship

Penmanship is a podcast about Australian writing culture. It features interviews with Australians who earn a living from working with words: writers, journalists, editors and publishers, among others. Each episode features an in-depth, one-on-one conversation about the guest’s career, craft and inner life. The goal of Penmanship is to provide unique insights into the creative process, mechanics and skills behind the best writing in the country. The podcast exists to explore the diversity and complexity of Australian storytelling by speaking directly with leading contributors to the field.
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Now displaying: May, 2016
May 18, 2016

Benjamin Law is an author, freelance journalist, columnist and screenwriter.

Since I first ventured into full-time freelance journalism in 2009, he's been someone that I've greatly admired, not only for his ability to write well across a range of publications and styles, but also for the simple fact that he's a generous and enthusiastic supporter of other writers. I first met him in early 2010, when I emailed him to introduce myself and ask for a meeting, and from that point, he has remained as a firm friend and mentor. I interviewed him for The Courier-Mail that same year, for an article that coincided with the release of his first book, The Family Law, a memoir which described his upbringing as a Chinese-Australian. The following year, he spoke about freelance journalism alongside John Birmingham at an event I hosted in Brisbane as part of National Young Writers' Month. I reviewed his excellent second book, Gaysia, for The Weekend Australian in 2012, and since then, he has taken me suit shopping, offered me a place to crash while visiting Sydney, and provided some timely advice when I was negotiating my first book contract.

As you've no doubt already gathered, I'm a big fan of Benjamin's. His career has recently taken an interesting turn into screenwriting, as his first book was turned into a six-part SBS television series. The Family Law debuted on Australian screens in early 2016; it was very well-received, and Benjamin is currently writing the second season. His regular writing gig is his weekly column in Good Weekend, which never fails to make me laugh. When he visited Brisbane in late April for a QUT Journalism and Media Society event, where we were both speaking to university students about feature writing, I took the opportunity to interview Benjamin in an empty classroom before the crowds arrived. Our conversation touches on how a mentorship with Matthew Condon helped him to pitch stories and get his head around writing longform features; how he was approached by a publisher to write The Family Law; what he learned about the book industry while working at Brisbane bookstore Avid Reader; how he comes up with ideas for his Good Weekend column, and how he views being in a relationship where both partners work in the creative industries.

Benjamin Law is a Sydney-based TV screenwriter, journalist and newspaper columnist, who has PhD in creative writing and cultural studies. He’s the author of two books—The Family Law (2010) and Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East (2012)—and the co-author of the comedy book Shit Asian Mothers Say (2014) with his sister Michelle and illustrator Oslo Davis. Both of his books have been nominated for Australian Book Industry Awards. The Family Law is now in its fourth reprint, has been translated into French and is now a major SBS TV series. Gaysia was published in India in 2013 and North America in 2014. Benjamin is a frequent contributor to Good Weekend (The Sydney Morning Herald/The Age), frankie and The Monthly. He has also written for over 50 publications, businesses and agencies in Australia and worldwide.

Show notes and links to what was discussed in this episode: http://penmanshippodcast.com/episode-24-benjamin-law/

Benjamin Law on Twitter: @mrbenjaminlaw

Penmanship on Twitter: @PenmanshipAU

penmanshippodcast.com

May 4, 2016

Anne Summers is an author, journalist, editor, publisher and columnist.

The fact that I need to use five adjectives to accurately describe her role in Australian writing culture speaks volumes about Anne's impact, influence and ability. To my knowledge, she is the first guest of Penmanship to appear on an Australian postage stamp, as part of a series celebrating Australian legends in 2011. Her career began with the publication of an ambitious and controversial book named Damned Whores and God's Police in 1975. Anne has written eight books so far, but it's the updated 2016 edition of that first title which brings her to Brisbane in late April for an event at Avid Reader bookstore.

Before the 40th anniversary book launch at Avid, I met Anne at her hotel room in South Brisbane for a conversation which touches on how she became a contributing writer to Australian newspapers and radio while still a child; the difficult and lengthy process of writing Damned Whores and God's Police; how she made the transition from journalism to working for a prime minister – twice! – in 1983 and 1992; what makes a great magazine profile, and how she decided to launch her online magazine Anne Summers Reports after a disagreement with an editor at a major Australian magazine.

Dr Anne Summers AO is a best-selling author and journalist with a long career in politics, the media, business and the non-government sector in Australia, Europe and the United States. She is author of eight books, including the classic Damned Whores and God’s Police, first published in 1975. This bestseller was updated in 1994 and, again, in 2002 and stayed continuously in print until 2008. A new edition was published on International Women’s Day 2016. In 1975 she became a journalist, first on The National Times, then in 1979 was appointed Canberra bureau chief for the Australian Financial Review and then the paper’s North American editor. In 1987 in New York she was editor-in-chief of Ms. – America’s landmark feminist magazine – and the following year, with business partner Sandra Yates bought Ms. and Sassy magazines in the second only women-led management buyout in US corporate history. In November 2012 she began publishing Anne Summers Reports, a lavish free digital magazine that promises to be ‘Sane, Factual, Relevant’ and which reports on politics, social issues, art, architecture and other subjects not covered adequately by the mainstream media. In September 2013, Anne launched her series of Anne Summers Conversations events with former prime minister Julia Gillard in front of a packed Sydney Opera House. In 1989 she was made an Officer in the Order of Australia for her services to journalism and to women. In 2011, along with three other women, Anne was honoured as an Australian Legend with her image placed on a postage stamp.

Show notes and links to what was discussed in this episode: http://penmanshippodcast.com/episode-23-anne-summers/

Anne Summers on Twitter: @SummersAnne

Penmanship on Twitter: @PenmanshipAU

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