An Interview with Mark Dapin by Mark Dapin


Mark: G’day, mate. How’re ya going’?

Mark: I think you already know.

Mark: Er, quite. So, it says here you’re a novelist, journalist, lecturer and editor.

Mark: That’s correct.

Mark: But you look like an idiot.

Mark: I am aware of that. But there’s no need to give it such prominence on my own website, mate.

Mark: Okay, well, moving on, I see your novel, Spirit House, was shortlisted for the Royal Society for Literature’s Oondatje Prize.

What’s that when it’s at home, son?

Mark: It’s an award given to “a distinguished work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry, evoking the spirit of a place”.

Mark: Was Spirit House in contention for any other major literary prizes?

Mark: As a matter of fact, it was also shortlisted for the Age Book of the Year, longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award, Highly Commended in the Prime Minister’s Awards and Commended in the New South Wales Premier’s Awards. My previous novel, King of the Cross, won a Ned Kelly Award. And my latest novel, R&R, was shortlisted for a Ned Kelly Award.

Mark: I understand a recent project is a history book entitled The Nashos’ War.

Mark: You should know, mate. You wrote it.

Mark: What on earth persuaded you to write about nachos?

Mark: Nashos, mate, nashos. It’s an Australian colloquialism meaning “national servicemen”.

Mark: Will your next book be about burritos?

Mark: You’re not listening, are you? The Nashos’ War is a deadset earnest work about the desperate choices faced by Australian men called up for national service during the time of the Vietnam War.

Mark: Have you considered a sequel about enchiladas?

Mark: Look, mate, I need to be taken seriously here.

Mark: Well, you’re hardly helping your cause with a Q&A like this, are you?

Mark: I guess I just can’t help myself.

Mark: So, tell us a bit about yourself.

Mark: I was born in the UK in 1963, came out to Australian in 1989. I’ve been a proof-reader, typesetter and sub-editor. I’ve written for The Times and the Guardian in London, and pretty much every major daily newspaper in Australia, from the Sydney Morning Herald to the Melbourne Herald Sun. I was the first chief sub-editor of the Australian Financial Review Magazine. For many years, I was on contract to Good Weekend magazine as a features writer and columnist. I have three university degrees, and I’ve just submitted my PhD. I used to teach journalism and I sometimes give writers’ workshops. I’ve even directed a writers’ festival. In addition to my novels and many published short stories, I have edited two anthologies of war writing for Penguin Books. Now I’m trying out writing TV scripts for fun.

Mark: And yet…

Mark: Yeah, I know. I once edited a lads’ mag so I must be an idiot.


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