Mark Dapin interviews Mark Dapin for the Third Time
5 March 2022
Mark: Wotcher, cock.
Mark: Nobody says that anymore. Not even in England.
Mark: I know, I’m trying to repopularise it as greeting.
Mark: And how’s that going for me?
Mark: It’s about as successful as the time I invented a joke: “Bloke walks into a fish shop and asks for a battered flathead, so the guy behind the counter beats him to death.” Nobody ever tells it.
Mark: Apart from me.
Mark: Well, I wrote it, didn’t I?
Mark: So, what have I been up to since I last spoke?
Mark: I wrote another book, Prison Break: From Shantaram to the Bangkok Hilton, the World’s Most Wanted Australians. There’s a review in The Australian.
Mark: And how did that go?
Mark: How do you think? I published an airport book when the airports were closed.
Mark: Ah. Er, so… has anything good happened to me?
Mark: Yeah, I worked as consultant producer on a true-crime TV show, Armed and Dangerous, for Network Seven.
Mark: What was that like, then?
Mark: It was really good fun.
Mark: I thought I didn’t like “fun”.
Mark: I don’t generally.
Mark: Did I actually do anything useful on set?
Mark: “On set”? Ooooh, I see I speak TV.
Mark: So, no, then?
Mark: Actually, I wrangled talent, conducted interviews on camera, narrated to camera, directed two shoots remotely (as a talking head on an iPhone) and washed up the cups twice. Off set, I did a lot of research.
Mark: Will, I please stop saying “Ooooh!”
Mark: Sure, as soon as I stop trying to impress myself. Anything else going on?
Mark: I’m writing book reviews for The Australian and travel for Explore and The Saturday Paper. Now that we are free to move around again, I want to get back on the road.
Mark: In the air, you mean?
Mark: I hear I’ve also been doing some subbing work.
Mark: Yeah, and I’ve been enjoying that again too. It’s been a long time.
Mark: Remember when I worked as chief sub at the Australian Airlines in-flight magazine?
Mark: I do, yeah.
Mark: Then deputy chief sub at Woman’s Day then founding chief sub at The Australian Financial Review Magazine?
Mark: Of course. What’s my point?
Mark: I thought a publisher might look at this and offer me some more work.
Mark: Fat chance.
Mark: I never know, though, do I? Anyway, I’ve got to go now.
Mark: Okay, see me.
Mark: Not if I see me first.
Mark Dapin interviews Mark Dapin for the Second Time
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.
Mark: Oh yeah, you’ll find that here. And you can buy his book here.