Five Minutes With Mark Dapin
Mark Dapin is a man who wears many hats. He’s been a magazine editor for publications such as Ralph and the Australian Financial Review and a regular columnist for the Good Weekend magazine. He is also a writer of fiction and non fiction books. His novel King of the Cross won the 2010 Ned Kelly award for best first fiction and his 2012 novel Spirit House was longlisted for the Miles Franklin award. His recent works have a very different flavour as Mark explores the impact of war.
Mark is joining us at the 2016 Batemans Bay Writers Festival where we will have a chance to hear him talk about war, politics and the importance of the arts.
You’re currently completing your PhD at ADFA. You’ve written and edited several books around the impact of war. Most of us think of you as a pretty knockabout funny bloke. Where does such a serious passion come from?
I never intended to be a “funny” writer. At first, I was surprised people thought my stories were funny because they were often just descriptions of the world as it looked to me. I was a serious journalist (of a sort) before I began to write first-person humour columns, and real journalism was always more important to me. That said, I like my serious work to surprise the reader with moments of (inappropriate) humour. As for the war thing, I’m not sure how that came about. I think I just got old and boring and interested in military history, in the way that old and boring men do.
The Vietnam War has been the subject of both a fiction and a nonfiction books for you, R&R and The Nasho’s War respectively. What is it about that particular conflict that makes you put pen to paper?
R&R came out of my research for the Nashos’ War. I just wanted to make sure that some of the ideas I could not use in non-fiction (because they weren’t true) did not go to waste. I wrote my novel Spirit House about the Burma Railway. I considered using the research for Spirit House to write a non-fiction book – and as the basis for a PhD – so it could have gone either way, I suppose.
You’re a journalist by trade, when you’re not writing books, your teaching others how to write them. Why is teaching about writing important to you?
I enjoy it. I like the sound of my own voice – except on tape, of course. Also, I like the idea of helping people, My life can seem a bit selfish at times.
You’ve interviewed some pretty cool celebrities in your time, from Nick Cave to Lee Kernaghan to Frederick Forsyth. Any funny stories to share?
Kostya Tszyu once punched me and broke my rib. But I’ll save the other stories for the festival.
We’re looking forward to welcoming you at the 2016 Batemans Bay Festival. We’ve got you chatting about everything from life after war to the state of Australian politics to the state of the arts. What are you most looking forward to at the Festival?
Hearing myself speak. Selling and signing loads of books. Eating stuff.
You can meet Mark at the following events:
Saturday September 10 11.45 am to 12.45 pm
Geoff Cousins, Annabel Morley and Sarah Rice have a wealth of experience in the arts sector. They explore how the arts can remain a vital and relevant expression of our many identities. Facilitated by Mark Dapin
Saturday September 10 1.45 pm to 2.45 pm
Join political and economics commentator George Megalogenis, and journalists Mark Dapin and Malcolm Knox as they reveal the horrors and humour of the 2016 campaign and what questions this latest shuffling of the deck chairs raises for the immediate future.
Saturday September 10 4.30 pm to 5.30 pm
Authors Mark Dapin (R&R and The Nashos’ War) and Leah Kaminsky (The Waiting Room) have written about the impact of war and how the effect of war crosses generations and affects lives long after the conflict itself is over. Facilitated by Suzanne Leal, a lawyer experienced in child protection, criminal law and refugee law.