Kathleen Noonan is a journalist and weekly columnist at The Courier-Mail.
For 13 years, she has written a column in the Saturday Courier-Mail named 'Last Word'. It's a blank canvas where she is tasked with writing one thousand words about whatever has caught her eye or piqued her interest out in the world that week. It seems no topic is too big or too small for this canvas: I've been reading her every Saturday for about six years, and that column is among the most consistently fascinating, moving and insightful pages I'll read all week. Besides being an eminently experienced and capable journalist, I have long wondered how Kathleen manages to write such wonderfully original material based only on her careful observations and analysis of herself and other people. It's a brilliant trick, and her name has been near the top of my list since I first conceived of using Penmanship as a vehicle to meet and interview my favourite Australian writers.
I met Kathleen at her home in East Brisbane on a Monday morning in mid-March, where I was enthusiastically greeted by her white Jack Russell puppy, Basil, who was keen on playing with the stranger in his house while we chatted nearby Kathleen's writing desk. The sounds of suburbia were in chorus that morning, prompting her to shut the window and doors to avoid power tools and leaf blowers on a couple of occasions. Our conversation touches on how Kathleen manages to come up with fresh ideas for 'Last Word' each week; how she decided to write a column about the recent passing of her beloved greyhound, which prompted an unexpected flood of reader mail; what led her to seek out a job as a cadet reporter in North Queensland; how she handled the tricky task of performing 'death knocks', and the advice that she tends to give when aspiring journalists contact her.
Kathleen Noonan is a Brisbane-based journalist and columnist. She has written a weekly opinion column named 'Last Word' in Saturday’s Courier-Mail for 13 years. Raised on a farm amid paddocks of sugarcane in north Queensland, Kathleen did her early news reporting in the Mackay district. After reporting in South Africa through the dying years of apartheid and release of Nelson Mandela, and a stint travelling and writing in the UK, Kathleen returned home, working as a freelance journalist for publications including The Australian. She returned to The Courier-Mail as a news reporter, sub-editor, section head and senior features writer. Her weekly column explores everything from love, death, books, running, music, poetry, teachers, refugees and chooks. She is also chair of the Second Chance committee, the only charity in Australia that raises money exclusively for homeless women. It helps fund crisis accommodation for elderly women, young teenagers with babies, and at-risk women and children in Queensland’s domestic violence shelters.
Show notes and links to what was discussed in this episode: http://penmanshippodcast.com/episode-20-kathleen-noonan/
Penmanship on Twitter: @PenmanshipAU
Baz McAlister is editor of Qweekend.
When we meet at the News Queensland offices in late February, he is only a couple of months into his new job in charge of The Courier-Mail's weekly colour magazine. I had not met the man prior to this interview, but I had observed his Irish charm and wit from a packed auditorium during the 2015 Clarions, the annual Queensland media awards that Baz co-hosted and wrote the script for. Thanks to his background as a stand-up comic and snappy newspaper headline writer, his clever, media-centric jokes were a clear hit with the crowd of journalists, and the scene was topped off by the handsome kilt he wore on the night.
Our conversation touches on Baz's upbringing in Northern Ireland and how his early interest in language was earned through reading fantasy and science fiction; how working at a Borders bookshop in the middle of Glasgow changed his reading habits; why he decided to leave the UK in search of a new life and career in Australia; how he began writing film reviews for the Brisbane street press, and later became a national arts editor; how his sub-editing and headline writing skills helped with his stand-up comedy debut, and how he learned to cope with bearing witness to terrible things such as watching footage of beheadings while working on the "backbench" of production staff at The Courier-Mail.
Baz McAlister is originally from the rugged County Antrim coast of Northern Ireland and has worked in print media in Australia for 12 years. Based in Brisbane, he is currently the editor of News Corp Australia's Qweekend magazine, The Courier-Mail's Saturday insert. Baz is a multi-award-winning senior journalist who has been a feature writer, columnist and night editor for News and spent six years as national arts editor for Time Off and The Music, covering the entertainment scene in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth. Baz is also a screenwriter who recently reached the quarterfinals of the Academy's Nicholl Fellowship for Screenwriting with a horror-drama feature. He has several television and film projects in various stages of development as writer. He also writes and performs stand-up comedy.
Show notes and links to what was discussed in this episode: http://penmanshippodcast.com/episode-19-baz-mcalister/
Baz McAlister on Twitter: @BazMcAlister
Penmanship on Twitter: @PenmanshipAU