23 November 2013

Author Interview with Mark Dapin, author of King Of The Cross and Fridge Magnets Are Bastards

Mark Dapin is a successful journalist and writer in Australia, having published several novels, including: Strange Country, Spirit House, King Of The Cross, Fridge Magnets Are Bastards, The Penguin Book of Australian War Writing and From The Trenches.

He has also had his work published in Woman's Day, Penthouse, Ita and plenty of other publications.  It is a pleasure to introduce him here to Carpe Librum readers.
Author, Mark Dapin

Hi Mark, thanks for joining us.  Being both a journalist and a writer, which do you prefer; reporting or writing fiction?
At the moment, I prefer writing fiction, but it changes every week or so. This week, I’ve got no fiction to write, which is probably why I feel Iike doing it. But, really, I love writing anything.

You've met and interviewed some amazing and interesting people, what are some of your favourite interviews?
The nicest, most honest person I’ve met was probably Dicko. One of the most unpleasant was Gordon Ramsay. Nick Cave was very gracious and generous with his time, and afterwards he sent me an email saying he had quit his hotel-room wanking habit – which was good to know. I recently had lunch with Tim Minchin, who seemed very, y’ know… kind. I like kind people.

Your book Fridge Magnets Are Bastards is hilarious, and I wanted to read it aloud to others at every opportunity.  Have you ever done or considered stand up comedy?
I’ve thought about it and, when I speak at writers’ festivals, I guess I incorporate elements of stand-up performance, but it isn’t what I want to do. I’m more interested in putting words together on paper than delivering them on stage. That said, I bloody love performing too – which has come as a real surprise to me, because I always thought of myself as quiet and shy.

Your crime novel King of The Cross was hard-hitting and funny, but what was your inspiration for the (fictional) Sydney crime boss Jacob Mendoza?
His life followed the path of Abe Saffron, but his character was based on a mixture of Gordon Ramsay, a certain living Sydney gangster, and my ex-girlfriend.

Mendoza seemed so real, I hardly believed he wasn't a real person; how did you achieve this?  Did you miss him when you'd finished writing?
Yes, I did miss him. I started talking like him. He appears briefly in my follow-up novel, Spirit House, too. And the one I’ve just finished writing.

How did From The Trenches change you?
It left me (very) slightly better off financially.
Aside from that, it was a privilege to curate the work of men who’d been though so much.

Can you tell us about the research you undertake? What is some of the more unusual resource material you've consulted or research you've undertaken?
Dunno, really. I don’t do much research for journalism at all. When I’m writing fiction, I tend to just stare at things for hours, trying to think of the best words to use to describe them.

When do you do your best work?  Where do you do most of your writing?
I write pretty much all day, pretty much every day. I think I write best in the morning, after my first Diet Coke.

Do you listen to music when you write?
No, never, nothing. I love music, but not when I’m trying to think.

What are you reading at the moment?
Books about the Vietnam War, for my new fiction project.

Do you have any literary influences?
I try to write like Pete Dexter and E L Doctorow crossed with Mordecai Richler, I guess.

The Quiet American by
Graham Greene, one
of Mark's fav books
What are some of your favourite books/authors?
Memoirs of a Catholic Girlhood by Mary McCarthy
Johnny I Hardly Knew You by Edna O’Brien
Lolita by Nabokov
Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler
Money by Martin Amis
The Quiet American and nearly everything else by Graham Greene
Enduring Love by Ian McEwan
The Book of Daniel by E L Doctorow
Brotherly Love by Peter Dexter

Do you have a favourite bookshop in Australia?
Not really. But I love to browse.

What's next?  Do you have anything in the pipeline at the moment?
I’m working on a novel, a PhD thesis, and military history book.

What would you like to tell your readers?
Please buy my upcoming novel and military history book.

Anything else you'd like to add?
And I always thought: the very simplest words
Must be enough. When I say what things are like
Everyone’s hearts must be torn to shreds.
That you’ll go down if you don’t stand up for yourself —
Surely you see that.    – Bertolt Brecht

Thanks so much Mark, and best of luck with your upcoming release!  (I'm off to check out some of your favourite books).

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