16 May 2009

Great news for readers! This month offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet your favourite columnist in the flesh! Yes, Andrew Bolt will be making a personal appearance at a shopping mall near you.
Actually, I have no idea where Bolty (as his friends perhaps call him) might be this month, but he is unlikely to be at a mall near you unless you live near the mall where he shops. In which case, you'll probably have seen him before.

I, on the other hand, will be speaking at the Sydney Writers' Festival this Thursday, May 21, and next Sunday, May 24, in an attempt to promote my book Strange Country.
I have had mixed success with this strategy in the past.
Regular readers may remember I sold only one new book at Sydney's Newtown Writers' Festival, and might be interested to learn I sextupled my total to six at the Perth Writers' Festival - shifting only about 1000 volumes fewer than the former head of MI5, Stella Rimington, who was in Perth flogging her latest thriller.
My ambition for Sydney is to reach double figures, and I intend to number every copy I sign, thus providing readers with a special, limited "signed and numbered" edition. If you're at the festival, come up and say g'day - or if you are an estate agent, come up and punch me (you'll get one back). Going by my record to date, you are unlikely to have to fight your way through a crowd to reach me, unless the Real Estate Institute of NSW (which no longer accepts complaints about its members) pickets the event with a load of deliberately misleading signs.
I'm not sure how I feel about writers' festivals, which have become an increasingly large part of my life. Obviously, I approve of the concept of author worship, but I think the audience could perhaps be a bit more fawning and sycophantic, ask more questions, shorter questions, and questions that are easier to answer, and buy two copies each of my book.
On May 21, I will be chairing a discussion on "irreverence" that includes The Chaser's Dominic Knight. I met Dominic a couple of weeks ago and said, "I will be compering your session at the writers' festival."
"Comparing it with what?" he asked.
"Something a lot funnier," I said, thinking he was joking, but it turns out he really did misunderstand me - so listen out for hilarious wrongly-stressed-syllable mix-ups at our debate.
On May 24, I'll be appearing with my Good Weekend colleague Danny Katz, whom I have never met. This will give me a chance to clear up a certain widespread misconception. A lot of people see the photo accompanying this column and say I look short. Well, here's some more great news for you: the picture is not actual size! I am neither nine centimetres tall, nor black and white.
If every issue of the magazine were to include an actual-size photograph of me with my arms folded, it would be five pages high, and 2 1/2 pages across at the shoulders, narrowing to two pages from my waist to my feet. You would need the best part of one extra page for my head, but no additional surface area for my hair.
If readers were to clamour for a Mark Dapin pull-out poster - and there has been no sign of this as yet - the mechanics of printing dictate that it would have to take up 10 spreads, or 20 full pages of the magazine. Among the readers who might think this was a good idea are (a) my mum, and (b) me.
For the record, I am actually 178 centimetres tall, and I hope that sets everybody's minds at rest. Danny Katz, on the other hand, really is only nine centimetres high, from the soles of his feet to the crest of his hair.

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