OPEN DISCUSSION: Former Bundaberg man Andrew McMillen is releasing a book called Talking Smack: Honest Conversations About Drugs.
OPEN DISCUSSION: Former Bundaberg man Andrew McMillen is releasing a book called Talking Smack: Honest Conversations About Drugs. David Ball

Author’s foray into Australia's drug culture

A FORMER Bundaberg man has scored his first publishing deal with a book that explores the nation's drug culture and our problems with talking about the subject openly.

Told in part through the prism of 14 high-profile musicians and their frank accounts of their own experiences with drugs, Andrew McMillen's book Talking Smack: Honest Conversations About Drugs is set for release today.

A freelance writer and music journalist since 2007, Mr McMillen, 26, said the book came about after the University of Queensland Press approached him and asked him to pitch a book idea.

"I'm a lifelong music fan and, at that time, I was becoming more interested in Australia's drug culture, so I thought I could put the two together for a book," he said.

"I pitched it and they agreed."

Mr McMillen, whose parents Paul and Debra are both school teachers in Bundaberg, spent the first half of last year interviewing Australian music luminaries for the project, including Paul Kelly, Wally de Backer (aka Gotye), Tina Arena, Phil Jamieson of Grinspoon, and Steve Kilbey of The Church.

He then spent the next six months writing Talking Smack, which includes a 20-page cartoon about the failure of the war on drugs, penned by his brother Stuart, a freelance cartoonist based in Canberra.

The writer hopes the book can be a conversation starter not just between parents and children, but in a wider context.

"I'd like to have a more balanced drug conversation in Australia," he said.

"The arguments tend to be black and white, but there are so many shades of grey."



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