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: Writing screenplays.

Mark: Anything I might’ve seen?

Mark: I did a couple of episodes of Wolf Creek 2, which is streaming in Australia on the oddly named Stan. In the UK, I think it’ll be on Fox. In the US, on Pop. It’s been quite well reviewed.

Mark: Anything else?

Mark: Quite a lot, really, but nothing that’s been screened yet.

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: Not yet, no.

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).

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: I understand you followed up your acclaimed Vietnam War history/cookery book The Nachos’ War with Jewish Anzac Biscuits.

Mark: Jewish Anzacs, yes. It’s a history of Australian Jews in the military. It was shortlisted for the Mark and Evette Moran Nib Literary Award Military History Prize.

Mark: Not a very long book, I imagine.

Mark: Actually, it’s huge.

Mark: Well, I’m not going to buy it.

Mark: You’ve already got a box of them at home.

Mark: Did it get good reviews?

Mark: Yeah.

Mark: Don’t you get sick of writing about Jews?

Mark: Yeah, I’m probably done with that now.

Mark: I was wondering… would you be willing to cross Australia to appear for nothing at an event nobody attends where you won’t sell any books?

Mark: Sounds tempting, but that’s how I spent most of 2016. So, no. Thank you.

Mark: And you’re still doing journalism?
Mark: Quite a lot, at the moment. Especially lunches for the Sydney Morning Herald.

Mark: Have you lunched with anyone good lately?

Mark: I thought the guy who wrote a volume of the Official History of ASIO was interesting.

Mark: Wrong. Booooring. Why don’t you get beaten up by Kostya Tszyu anymore?

Mark: He’s run back to Russia. Because he’s scared of me.

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