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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: Apparently.

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: Pensive.

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: Whatever.

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.

Mark: Oh yeah, you’ll find that here. And you can buy his book here.

Contact Mark