An Interview with Mark Dapin by Mark Dapin
Mark: So, how are you, Mark? We haven’t talked in a while.
Mark: Yeah, well, I’ve got a busy schedule, you know, mate. I’m not often in the same place as myself. My people have to talk to my people to make it happen.
Mark: Anyhow, we’re here now.
Mark: So, what’ve you been doing since our last Q&A?
Mark: I have written a true-crime book called Public Enemies, about two Australian armed robbers, Russell ‘Mad Dog’ Cox and Ray ‘mond John’ Denning.
Mark: Where can I see you making an idiot of yourself talking about it on TV?
Mark: Try here.
Mark: How’s it selling?
Mark: Pretty well. Which makes a change for one of my books.
Mark: You must be very happy.
Mark: Sure, but I still look miserable.
Mark. Yeah, pensive.
Mark: And jowly.
Mark: And your point is…?
Mark: Forget it. I understand Russell Cox wasn’t a mad dog at all.
Mark: He was not. Nor was he a Russell or a Cox.
Mark: So, did you get the title wrong?
Mark: No, mate. Read the book.
Mark: But I wrote it.
Mark: You don’t look brainy enough.
Mark: I’ve got four degrees.
Mark: Of separation?
Mark: No, mate. Of Social Studies, Journalism, History of Art and Military History.
Mark: That and $8.50 will buy you a schooner of Cooper’s.
Mark: Moron. Been up to anything else?
Mark: I did a couple of years screenwriting, on off, for Screentime Australia. Since then, I’ve written a fair bit for Radio National, including a couple of short stories that were well received.
Mark: Who by?
Mark: They’re by me, obviously.
Mark: No, by who were they received well?
Mark: No, you mean, ‘by whom’.
Mark: Well, many of my neighbours liked them.
Mark: Where can I listen to these short stories, bearing in mind I no longer own a wireless?
Mark: On ABC Radio National. ‘The Canner’ is the second story along in this episode of Corona Tales. My short story, ‘The Big Steel’, is part of the Untrue Crime series I curated for Radio National Fictions.
Mark: How about novels?
Mark: Well, my last novel, R&R, was shortlisted for a Ned Kelly Award. Spirit House was longlisted for the Miles Franklin and shortlisted for a Royal Society of Literature’s Ondaatje Prize, and my debut, King of the Cross, won a Ned Kelly.
Mark: And how’s your career as a historian going?
Mark: Well, The Nashos’ War won a Nib People’s Choice Award and Alex Buzo Shortlist Prize and was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction. Tragically, however, my PhD supervisor, Jeff Grey, died.
Mark: Oh, I see. Have you got your PhD yet?
Mark: Yes, I’m a doctor.
Mark: Have you published your PhD?
Mark: Yes, as Australia’s Vietnam: Myth vs History.
Mark: What’s it about then?
Mark: A lot of what we think we know about Australia and the Vietnam War is probably myth. I don’t believe there were any demonstrations against returning servicemen at Australian airports, for example. I think we’ve conflated the actions of the Vietnam War-era anti-war movement with post-war events organised by women’s groups protesting rape in war.
Mark: Sounds boring.
Mark: It’s not. It’s about good history (mine and Jeff’s) and bad history (everyone else’s). I also did a series for Radio National about myth and military history, called Myths of War.
Mark: Why don’t you just stick to writing funny stuff?
Mark: Why don’t you?
Mark: I’m the one who’s doing the interviewing here.
Mark: Yes, I am.
Mark: And you’re still doing journalism?
Mark: Not much.
Mark: What about that piece you wrote about your mate, Graham? I think I read that.