Kate McClymont - Author Q & A

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5 minutes with Kate McClymont

Kate McClymontInvestigative journalist Kate McClymont must be the best-known journalist in NSW, and probably has the most intriguing muses of any writer around. She is certainly the most-awarded Australian journalist. As a crime reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald, Kate spends her time mixing with and writing about some of the shadiest characters in the story of Sydney.

Once derided by Paul Keating for spending her time “chasing subterranean odours”, Kate's sense of smell has led her to unearth some of the underworld's most fascinating tales of betrayal, corruption and crime. They are the stories the central characters don't want told, and these non-fiction villains will do their best to silence the storyteller.

Her phone's been tapped, she's had police security, and received death threats in the aftermath of her Gold Walkley-winning expose of the Bulldogs salary cap scandal. It was Kate in whom millionaire businessman Michael McGurk confided that he feared for his life, just one week before he was fatally gunned down outside his Sydney home.

What was the last good book you read?

I recently re-read All Quiet on the Western Front, which is still one of my all time favourites.

Do you have a favourite Library?

Woollahra Library is my local library and I am a regular. I love that you can borrow a book and read it in the surrounding gardens.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever read about yourself or your work?

Eddie Obeid once said this of me in parliament: "McClymont has been mixing with scum for so long that she no longer knows who is good and who is bad, what is real and what is made up. She has become the journalistic equivalent of a gun moll with glittering associations with the not so well-to-do. Despite this being well known, management of the Sydney Morning Herald continue to grant her prime, unscrutinised space."

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

The best piece of advice I ever received was from a police contact who told me not to worry about death threats. "It's the threats you don't get which are the ones you should worry about," he said.

What drew you to the subject matter of your latest book?

He Who Must Be Obeid is not just about Eddie Obeid. The book chronicles power and corruption within NSW and examines why Obeid got away with it for such a long time.

Want to know more about He Who Must Be Obeid?

He Who Must Be ObeidMeet Australia's most corrupt politician whose brazen misdeeds were said to be on a scale 'unexceeded since the days of the Rum Corps'. From the shadows Obeid ran the state as his fiefdom, making and unmaking premiers.

His tentacles stretched through all levels of government, encircling almost every precious resource - coal leases, Circular Quay cafes, marinas, even the state's water. All of them were secret money-spinners for Obeid and his family.

Above ground, below ground, in the air, on the water, there was no domain beyond Obeid's grasp. Now, many of the key politicians of his era have given a candid account of Obeid's pernicious backroom influence.

Following their groundbreaking investigations, the award-winning journalists Kate McClymont and Linton Besser have unearthed the vast but secret empire Obeid built over decades, producing an authoritative account of how he got away with so much for so long.

He Who Must Be Obeid is published by Random House and available now