Award-winning journalist enjoys the 'best job in the world'
WITH a second book in the works, a Clarion Award in the bag and now named as one of five finalists in the Queensland Premier's Young Publishers and Writers Awards, former Bundaberg man Andrew McMillen's freelance journalism career continues to gain well-deserved recognition.
Taking out the 2015 Clarion Award for the Freelance Journalist of the Year, the judges' described Mr McMillen's work as "engaging" and "tremendously interesting".
"Andrew's body of work, which covered topics as varied as plane spotters to poppy growers, was engaging, tremendously interesting and full of energy. The five pieces were beautifully written and demonstrated Andrew's ability to write about anything," the judges stated.
Mr McMillen said he submitted five stories which featured in publications including The Weekend Australian Magazine and The Weekend Australian Review.
"I was one of two finalists and on the night I happily and luckily won the award," he said.
"It's the first time they've run a freelance journalist category at the Clarions. "And last Friday it was announced that I was one of five finalists announced for the Queensland Premier's Young Publishers and Writers Awards.
"For that you had to have published a book or worked on a book project as well as any other contribution to Queensland writing.
"So with that I submitted my book which was published last year called Talking Smack and I also included my publishing history dating back to 2009, when I first started freelance journalism."
But Mr McMillen's work was first published in 2007 when he was studying at university in Brisbane.
"I started writing for the local street press, just reviewing live music shows, albums, getting free tickets to gigs and not getting much money," he said.
"After that point I had recently graduated and thought I could extend myself a bit further to see how far I could take the freelance writing because I was really enjoying it.
"I liked the challenge of trying to convince editors to commission me to do some writing for them. I still find that challenging but enjoyable.
"I've being doing it (freelance writing) for six years full time now and I really love the range of work I get to do, the range of editors I get to work with and the work itself.
"Journalism is the best job in the world, every day is different, you get to talk to so many fascinating people about so many different topics."
Mr McMillen is currently working on his second book which "examines body donation and how the human body becomes a learning tool in death".
"This year I've been spending a lot of time at the University of Queensland and looking at their body donor program and how students learn human anatomy by dissecting cadavers of people who have kindly chosen to donate their body," he said.
"That will be published next year for University of Queensland Press, who also published my first book.
"It's due in January and should be published about September."
With his family still living in Bundaberg, Mr McMillen said he visits at least once a year. And Mr McMillen said he would love to see other young journalists come out of Bundaberg and succeed on the national stage.
"I would just encourage any curious young person to consider journalism as a career," he said.
"You can read all the doom and gloom about job prospects but the work itself is fantastic."