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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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Jun 1, 2016

Luke Williams is an author and freelance journalist.

I first became aware of his writing when The Saturday Paper published his feature story, 'Life As A Crystal Meth Addict', in August 2014. In that story, he wrote about his decision to investigate the issue of crystal methamphetamine abuse by moving into a sharehouse with a couple of addicts, but it wasn't long before the writer became addicted to the drug, too. It was an eye-opening article for which he later became a finalist in the feature writing category at the Walkley Awards that same year. I emailed Luke after I read that initial story, and we've been in sporadic contact since, as we're both freelance journalists with an interest in writing honestly about drug use.

That story in The Saturday Paper led to a book deal with Scribe, and the result was published in May 2016. Entitled The Ice Age: A Journey Into Crystal-Meth Addiction, it's a lengthy and detailed exploration of the drug's surge in popularity from both a personal and journalistic perspective. When I reviewed the book for The Weekend Australian, I wrote that it offers something that has never before been attempted by an Australian author, and I described it as "a ­remarkable, original and compelling journey". When he visited Brisbane in early May for an event at Avid Reader bookstore, I launched The Ice Age for Luke before a highly engaged audience, who appreciated the rare chance to speak openly about the realities of crystal meth use and abuse.

In the afternoon before the book launch, I met with Luke at his hotel room in inner Brisbane. Our conversation touches on how he went about pursuing a book deal immediately after the publication of that story for The Saturday Paper; how he pitched to his drug-addicted housemates the fact that he planned to write a book about their lives; how he approached the tricky task of writing about his drug-induced psychosis; how he became a reporter for Triple J's current affairs program, Hack; and why he now prefers to work as a freelance writer while living in south-east Asia, rather than in Australia.

Luke Williams is an Australian journalist and author. He has previously worked as a reporter and broadcaster at ABC Radio. His written work has been published in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Saturday PaperBrisbane Times, Crikey, The Global Mail, The Weekend Australian and Eureka Street. In 2013 he was nominated for a Human Rights Media Award for a long-form investigative piece in The Global Mail, and in 2014 his article on ice addiction, 'Life as a Crystal Meth Addict', was a finalist in the Walkley Awards for Excellence in Journalism. His book The Ice Age: A Journey Into Crystal-Meth Addiction was published in May 2016 by Scribe.

Show notes and links to what was discussed in this episode: http://penmanshippodcast.com/episode-25-luke-williams/

Luke Williams on Twitter: @LukeWilliamsj

Penmanship on Twitter: @PenmanshipAU

penmanshippodcast.com

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