Working with Words: Julian Morgans

Julian Morgans is a Melbourne-based producer and staff writer at VICE, whose subjects vary 'from hard-hitting journalism to soft-hitting nonsense'. He's interviewed strangers about what it feels like to accidentally commit murder, profiled a human carnivore, and reminisced about Australia's 'best worst restaurant'. He's also hosted and produced documentaries about bikies and home-brewed suicide equipmentWe talk to him about windows into other lives, and Tyler Durden.

What was the first piece of writing you had published?

It was a garbled history of big fires. The Great Fire of London Fire, the one in Rome, all the classics. Then it went on a music site where people don’t read history.

Drugs, Crime, and the Australian Bikie

Drugs, Crime, and the Australian Bikie (2014), a documentary produced and presented by Julian Morgans

What’s the best part of your job?

Getting a window into other’s lives.

What’s the worst part of your job?

Coming up with fresh ideas all the time.

What’s been the most significant moment in your writing career so far?

It could be The Incarceration Issue. Of all the horror around, the scale of domestic prison populations, and the cruel, secretive things we’re doing in offshore detention centres really get to me. I’m proud we spent a magazine questioning it.

What’s the best (or worst) advice you’ve received about writing?

Death in a Can: Australia's Euthanasia Loophole - VICE INTL (Australia)

Death in a Can (2014), a documentary directed by Julian Morgans

Best: Read a lot.

Worst: Use lots of adjectives because they’re beautiful.

If you weren’t making your living by working with words, what do you think you’d be doing instead?

Angrily working in hospitality.

There’s much debate on whether creative writing can be taught – what’s your view?

I think you need an instinct for story. You can polish that talent, but I don’t think it’s learn-able.

What’s your advice for someone wanting to be a writer?

It’s that old thing, write what you love. I once wrote an article about my favourite worst restaurant, Smorgy’s, and it got attention. If you write about a thing everyone cares about, but no one has noticed they care, you’ll clean up.

Do you buy your books online, in a physical bookshop, or both?

I think I steal them from my parents.

If you could go out to dinner with any fictional character, who would it be and why?

Tyler Durden to borrow his shirts.

What’s the book that’s had the most significant impact on your life or work – and why?

Anything by Kurt Vonnegut. The way that guy frames tragedy as kind of whimsical and funny, he gets at something special.

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