Rusty Young (writer)

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Rusty Young (born 1975) is an Australian-born writer known for his book, Marching Powder, published by Pan Macmillan Australia in 2003, and based on real life experiences in a Bolivian prison. Rusty Young is a commerce/law graduate from the University of New South Wales, who has lived most of his life in Sydney, Australia.

Rusty Young currently lives in Colombia where he teaches the English language. He plans to keep writing and has a plan for two or three more books. It was also reported on the UNSW Law website that he is working as an executive in a corporation in Colombia. "At times it can be dangerous, so they’ve given me a bullet-proof car. I wake up every morning and know I’m a long way from my days at UNSW."

Rusty Young was backpacking in South America when he heard about Thomas McFadden (in the "Lonely Planet" guidebook and from other backpackers), a convicted English drug trafficker who ran tours inside Bolivia's famous San Pedro Prison. Curious about the reason behind McFadden's huge popularity, the law graduate went to La Paz and joined one of Thomas's illegal tours. They formed an instant friendship and then became partners in an attempt to record Thomas's experiences in the jail. Rusty bribed the guards to allow him to stay and for the next three months he lived inside the prison, sharing a cell with Thomas. The memoir, Marching Powder, was released in 2003. A film adaptation of Marching Powder has been announced with little information released so far in regards to its production. Brad Pitt's Plan B Entertainment production company, Periscope Entertainment and Reason Pictures have the rights to the book. Don Cheadle has been cast as Thomas McFadden and is additionally credited as producer.

In June 2014 it was announced that Chiwetel Ejiofor would instead play McFadden.[1]

While living and working in Colombia following the publication of Marching Powder, Rusty interviewed special forces soldiers, snipers, undercover intelligence agents and members of two terrorist organisations – the FARC and Autodefensas. During this time he was both shocked and touched by the stories of child soldiers he encountered and decided to incorporate these stories into a novel. In January 2016, Random House Australia purchased the Australian and New Zealand rights to Rusty's second book, Colombiano, which will be released in October 2016.[2]

The novel, set in Colombia and developed in conjunction with story consultant Simone Camilleri, is ‘the story of one young man’s descent into war and violence in order to avenge his father’s murder’. Commercial fiction publisher Beverley Cousins said: ‘there is real heart in this powerful novel of a young man’s quest for justice and his decision to do wrong in order to do right. From Rusty’s work with child soldiers in Colombia has grown a story that shocks, thrills and packs a strong emotional punch, I can’t wait for the wider reading public to experience this extraordinary novel.’[3]

List of works[edit]

  • Marching Powder: A True Story of Friendship, Cocaine, and South America's Strangest Jail (book)- 2003
  • Marching Powder (film) - announced
  • Colombiano (book) - due for release October 2016


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  • Marching Powder: A True Story of Friendship, Cocaine, and South America's Strangest Jail (book)- 2003
  • [1] ( - official site of the book)
  • [2] All News - Law Sydney Australia
  • [3] ( - Marching Powder film)
  • [4] (How to write a best seller: An interview with Rusty Young - Arts Hub)
  • [5] (Colombiano - Random House Australia)