Psst. Want to know a secret? One of the best podcasts about writing is based right here in Australia. Brisbane, to be precise.
Penmanship, a podcast by freelance journalist and author Andrew McMillen, is a must listen for anyone who is interested in the craft and graft of writing.
Andrew McMillen readily admits the format of his Penmanship podcast, which made its debut in May, was inspired by the Longform podcast in the US.
Penmanship has been an illuminating listen for me over the past few months. Hearing how others approach interviews, writing and journalism work is an ongoing education for me since I got into the journalism game later in life compared to many young guns out there.
Every episode is worth a listen. Personal favourites to date include a chat with Everett True AKA Jeremy Thackray AKA The Legend! and an eye (ear?) opening interview with investigative journalist Chris Masters.
Everett True is one of the writers I’ve enjoyed reading since his Melody Maker days in the early 1990s and someone who I always look to as a passionate music journalist even when I don’t agree with his opinion.
Hearing how he initially built a high-profile reputation at the long-defunct UK music weekly by overseeing the letters page (a gig nobody else at the Melody Maker wanted) and writing letters about himself and his articles made me laugh at his audacity.
The interview with Chris Masters is a fascinating insight into the work of an investigative journalist and it’s interesting to hear him talk about his unpopularity at times with editors and journalism colleagues when he was working on indepth investigations but not producing enough work to fill airtime at ABC’s Four Corners compared to other journos.
The modest Masters believes many of his colleagues had a right to feel aggrieved at times.
Listening to Andrew McMillen teasing out answers from interviewees – so used to usually being interviewers – is also a lesson in deft interviewing techniques.
Each podcast is about 90 minutes or so in length but his skill in saying little at the right times while allowing his guests to do most of the talking results in deeper answers than even some of the interviewees intended to give. Chris Masters, for one, is surprised by how much he reveals about himself and his working methods during his Penmanship conversation.
Listen to and subscribe the Penmanship podcast at all the usual podcast platforms. It’s an essential listen if you’re a writer or have ambitions to write.