On the Couch with Shannon Molloy

Shannon Molloy AAR On the CouchWho is Shannon Molloy?
At the moment, Shannon Molloy is in urgent need of a haircut and desperately missing the pub thanks to this strange coronavirus world we find ourselves in. He’s also a senior reporter at news.com.au where he covers general news, human interest, mental health and a little bit of politics. He lives in Sydney with his husband Rob, their tortoiseshell cat Ella and a recent addition, Norwegian Elkhound puppy Bard. He loves to travel (not much these days), write and listen to trashy 90s pop music. And he’s just written his first book, a memoir called Fourteen.

If you weren’t a journalist, what would you be doing as a career?
My mum was a hairdresser and I basically grew up on the lino floor of her salon in Yeppoon on the central Queensland coast. I loved watching her unleash her immense creativity while gossiping and laughing with her clients, who were more like friends than customers. As I got older, I was put to work at the basins, washing hair and rinsing colours or perms. I loved it. Mostly the chatting. The salon was such an exciting and vibrant place to be. I think I would’ve been happy there, had my life-long love of journalism and the news not led to a career.

Who inspires you and why?
From a writing perspective, I’ve been a fan of Trent Dalton’s work for a very long time. Before he was a worldwide best-selling author, he was a beloved Brisbane feature writer who brought to life people’s stories with such beautiful and captivating words. The way he can instantly grab a reader with just a few words and hold their attention until the very end has always inspired me. And made me a little envious, if I’m honest. But my biggest inspiration is my mum, Donna. She sacrificed so much for her kids. Me especially. She taught me what it meant to be stoic and courageous, and above all, what it means to love unconditionally.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
A few years back, I did a charity bike ride across Cambodia with PROJECT FUTURES, which supports victims of child trafficking and slavery. On one stop, we visited a home for rescued children and this beautiful little girl came bounding out of the crowd to greet me. She kept touching this tattoo on my arm of a huge multi-coloured deer, screeching “saart!” – the Khmer word for “beautiful” – over and over. She even added to it with some stickers from her personal stash. She was full of such happiness and kindness, and had a profound impact on me. I heard later after we left that she had been abducted and sold to a brothel before she was eventually saved. She was five. That haunted me. Keeping kids safe and giving them every opportunity to thrive and lead a happy life is something I’m very passionate about. There are some fantastic organisations trying to achieve that goal. I’d like to continue helping them.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Before coronavirus changed our lives, I spent 11 incredible days in Patagonia in Chile on a work trip. It was the most spectacular place I’ve ever seen. The natural landscape is stunning and so varied. We went from bustling towns to absolutely deserted mountains, expansive crystal blue lakes to sheer glaciers. The people were wonderful, the food was exceptional, and the environment was stunning. Truly a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
I’ve been in Sydney for more than six years now but I’m still struck by the beauty of the Harbour every single time I see it. So, this is an answer that will have true Sydneysiders cringing, but I really like to take visitors from out of town to Opera Bar. Yes, it’s probably a cliché. But seriously, having a beer while sitting beneath the Opera House, looking out at the water, the city skyline and the Harbour Bridge? You can’t beat that.

What are you currently reading?
I finally managed to get my hands on Phosphorescence by Julia Baird and I’ve just today started reading it.

What are you currently listening to?
Lots and lots of music. After covering coronavirus non-stop for the better part of three months, it’s my escape and the thing keeping me sane. The last handful of songs played on Spotify were The Look by Roxette, Waiting For Tonight by Jennifer Lopez, Free by Mya, Too Funky by George Michael, Work Bitch by Britney Spears and Poison by Bardot. That’s just a brief insight into my taste in music.

Happiness is?
My husband. He’s endlessly kind, full of love and very patient. No matter how horrible or challenging things are, he’s what makes everything feel OK. Somehow convincing him to love me is the greatest thing I will ever achieve.

What does the future hold for you?
God, who knows? The past few months have reminded me that life is rarely predictable. All of my plans for the year are out the window thanks to coronavirus and its various consequences. If I can get to December and be happy, healthy and gainfully employed, I’ll feel content – and very lucky.

Shannon is the Author of Fourteen – which is published by Simon & Schuster and available from all leading book sellers including Dymocks.

Image: Shannon Molloy (supplied)