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: I was wondering… would you be willing to take on any highly paid journalism work commissioned by magazine or newspaper editors who might be reading this Q&A, particularly if it involved luxury travel to exotic destinations?
Mark: Yes, as a matter of fact, I would. Funny you should ask.
Mark: What about crossing 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: 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 [blah blah]
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: Don’t you get sick of writing about Jews?
Mark: Yeah, I’m probably done with that now.
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.