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