Photo taken at Whitehorse airport in the Yukon.
Photo copyright Margaret Goodwin / Yukon Tourism
I have a fabulous treat for us today - it's not just a roast but a tribute to our own great blogger, friend, photographer, journalist, established writer and published author.
David has very kindly agreed to feature for this special . . .
100th edition of his The Sunday Roast
I hope many tune in to see how the column's creator answers his own questions (and mine) and incorporates a wealth of experience and advice for us all.
This week's interview is with David McMahon
who until recently wrote the blog, Authorblog - now sadly on hold.
David features also on Red Bubble with his photographic essays
while pursuing his busy journalistic commitments.
Thank you David - very much appreciated
A very warm welcome to you and your many followers
(I've upgraded the 'mic' especially for you, David)
As a back drop to your roast, David, I thought I'd re-capture the shock we all experienced when we read your final post. The entire blogging community reeled when we saw you place your blog on hold. Accolades, tributes and good wishes, all 290 (and still climbing), poured into your comments box. On 25 September 2009 I remember reading this with sheer disbelief:
Goodbye To Blogging - That's All Folks
Yes, blogging has been a great adventure. Yes, it was a thrill to get almost nine thousand page views in a single day. Yes, it was a great honour to be chosen as one of Google's Blogs Of Note. Most of all, it was wonderful to be part of a vibrant, talented community.
But I’m going to be concentrating on my novels for a while.
I'll still have a strong online presence and if you would like to keep an eye on my photographic essays, you can get twice-daily updates at my Red Bubble site.
Goodbye, good luck and God bless you all.
And so for the present David has chosen to live in the shadows outside BlogLand. He will explain his decision in a little more detail later in this roast. But it is wonderful to him here today.Self-portrait. Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON
So here's the first of the standard questions you know so well. Why do you blog?
Thanks for inviting me aboard, Sir Edward. I began blogging for simple reasons. One, because I have always lived to write. Two, because I enjoy interacting with people. And three, because BlogLand is a wonderful forum not just to express oneself, but even more importantly, to admire the work of other writers from around the world.
My kids (The Authorbloglets!) once asked me if I have a favourite blogger – and my reply was simple: just as I love my children equally, I admire the different skills that bloggers bring the world of creativity. If I have visited your blog more than a couple of times, I’ve done so because I admire your work. Simple as that.
But to get back to your question ….. I’d looked around at blogs for a while, not knowing exactly how to dip my toe in the water. It was several weeks before I eventually signed on and took the first step. But in the first eight or nine months I think I only posted about a handful of items.
Then one day the penny dropped and I realized I should actually post every day. From that point onwards, I did. I think what helped me, too, was my background in newspaper and magazine layout, so my blog always emphasized the visual element, not just the written word.
What's the story behind your blog name?
Funny – I was sitting there in my study where I’ve written all three of my novels, thinking about this big step whereby I was about to start a blog. And one of the steps I had to complete was a name for the blog. On a whim, I just typed in the word “Authorblog”, thinking if I came up with something better I’d change it.
It was such a mundane name, really – but I stuck with it.
What is the best thing about being a blogger?
Without doubt, the interaction. You can get this in two ways – by visiting other blogs and commenting; or, later, when people start noticing your blog and dropping in to leave comments on your work, to follow their link and comment on their's in turn. I was very lucky in my early days as a blogger, because Biz Stone (one of the co-founders of Twitter) wrote some very kind words about the quality of my work and all of a sudden I was on people’s radar.
While interaction with other bloggers is vital, it almost proved a major hurdle in my case. As an established writer and a published author, I was quite happy to step in and give advice when asked, but there was a certain group of “senior” bloggers who didn’t understand my motives at first.
No one knows this story, but when I began giving advice to bloggers who (I hasten to point out) were *asking* for guidance, there were immediately some raised eyebrows among the members of blogging royalty.
I still have an email, written in kind but firm prose, from someone who acknowledged I was a “good dude’’ but that I was ruffling “lots’’ of feathers by giving new bloggers advice, when I was a brand-new blogger myself. What really irked them, I was told, was the fact that I had told new bloggers they could contact me at any time if they had any further queries.
I replied with forethought and courtesy, as you would expect.
But I kept giving advice, and I kept answering any queries that bloggers asked me. I don’t think there is a single blogger, anywhere in the world, who can say he or she never got a reply from me. In fact, I’ve even had the privilege of speaking on the phone to some bloggers overseas.
Can you tell us, David, why you decided to put your blog on hold?
Like I said, the blogger-to-blogger interaction was wonderful. It was great for me because when I started blogging I worked on an afternoon newspaper, working from 5am-2 pm. I used to be home early and so, before I picked the kids up from school, I had time to visit blogs and reply to each comment that people left on my posts.
Then in May 2008, when I took on a 9-5 role in the same company, I had virtually no time to reply to the many comments I was getting ..... and the personal interaction was starting to slip away.
As the very interaction that I find so vital in blogging began to dwindle, I realised that I simply expected others to visit me, even though I did not have the time to visit them. This in turn led to my decision on 25 September last year to put a hold on my blog.
But my close blog friends all have my email address, so I am still here for everyone.
What key advice would you give to a newbie blogger?
Trust your instincts. Write without fetters. Write instinctively. BlogLand is a wonderful international forum for writers, because you have a global audience.
Post regularly. Write from your heart. Treat other bloggers with the respect that you seek in return. And if you can, always use a photograph, a graphic or an image of some description to illustrate your posts. Newspapers and websites have images to break the monotony of continuous typeface – and that works equally for blogs.
In the beginning, I was lucky. I didn’t even know how to construct a live link until Terry Fletcher, the Portugal-based webmaster and blogger, generously showed me how it was done. Terry would always chip in with advice and guidance while I was finding my way as a new blogger. In fact, not many bloggers would know that Terry – without even being asked – designed the banner that still exists on my blog.
What is the most significant blog post you've ever read?
There were many significant posts I read, especially in the time that I kept track of a simple innovation called “Post of the Day”. This was a purely subjective list of blog posts that caught my attention every day, but instead of just one winner, sometimes there were joint winners and every day there was a list of other posts that caught my eye.
The multi-gifted Canadian blogger, Hilary of The Smitten Image, has kindly taken it upon herself to continue this sequence with her Post Of The Week.
So in answer to your question, there were several blog posts that caught my eye – and there is a permanent record of them in cyberspace. But since you’ve twisted my arm to name just one, I’d have to say it was A Modern Fairy Tale by a gentle soul called Maggie May.
David, this post describes Maggie's son-in-law's illness and was followed a week later by The Resting Place , sadly covering his death. Since then Maggie's daughter, Debbie Drews has opened her blog, Bittersweet Truths and she writes some very moving posts on the subject.
What is the most significant blog post you've ever written?
Could I perhaps say that I’m torn between two posts, please, Sir Edward? I reckon one of the closest to my heart would have been an ABC Wednesday post called D Is For Dementia , about my mother, who was my earliest Muse, my Google and my guiding star in my formative years.
The other post was written live, about a significant encounter that had just taken place. It was called G Is For Grizzly and it was written the same day a grizzly charged while I stood several metres in front of a group of hikers in Kluane National Park in the Yukon. The really significant thing about that day was that in many ways it proved in my own mind that I was coming of age as a photographer. Fortunately the bear broke it's charge and I am here to tell the tale.
Many bloggers think of me as a photographer, but in truth I only really got into photography when my wife, the wise and beautiful Mrs Authorblog, bought me a digital SLR camera, the Pentax K100D that has travelled round the world with me ever since. At that point in time I was a writer who just happened to take photographs as well.
That day in the Yukon, we were at the end of our hike and I had put the lens caps on both my cameras (the other was a Pentax K200D) and switched them off. Then our guide told me there was a grizzly in front of us, and I moved to the front of the group to get a better view, but the grizzly had gone to ground. A few moments later, this magnificent beast appeared in full view – and I suddenly realized I’d probably never get the chance to photograph a grizzly face to face ever again. I ripped the lens cap off my K200D, unfurled the lens, lined up the bear and hit the shutter as he began his charge. There was no time for fear. That came much later, a delayed reaction that made me shiver when I sat down to write the story that evening.
More importantly, it proved to me that my photography had become instinct-driven. Cecily, the US-based blogger who co-hosts Photo Story Friday asked me after this if I was a writer who takes photographs, or a photographer who writes novels. My reply to her was simple: I said that her question itself was the greatest compliment anyone had ever paid my photography.
If you were to suggest two blogs for roasting who would you pick, and why?
I think San Merideth at A Life With A View is one who should be roasted - I was never able to get her to do a Roast! And the second blogger I’d love to see roasted is Merisi, whose work I have always admired at her blog Merisi's Vienna For Beginners.
I will add two more because I think these are very good roast prospects. Jennifer Harvey at Thursday Drive and her cousin Louise who hosts Skywatch Friday.
Thank you David for your recommendations and I shall approach them shortly.
That concludes the formal aspect of the interview but it would be nice to get to know you a little better while you are slowly turning on the roasting spit. So while you are screaming in agony above the open fire here are a few more questions for you.
The open fire is a bit of a worry, because I live in Australia and it’s scorching hot at this time of the year. Er, could we put the fire out and turn on the air-conditioner, please?
OK, and we'd better issue all your followers with buckets of water - can't be too careful with possible bush fires - I've read some of your accounts of these.
Pick three things you can't live without.
My family. My principles. My camera.
If we were to make a movie about BlogLand, what would it be and who would you cast in the leading roles?
I’d call it “Moolah Rouge” and I’d have Suldog playing any role he chooses, because he’s so full of unpredictable creativity; Deborah Gamble playing a Wild West gambler, because she is a winner; Shrinky playing the musician, because she rocks; Mushy as the favourite uncle; Fat Hairy Bastard as the sheriff, because no one would take him on; Braja, Janine, Daryl, Corey, Hilary, Sazfab and Moannie as the Muses; and I would find a role for every single blogger whose site I visited more than once. I made many friends in BlogLand, and I would like to meet them all in the same place, at the same time, to tell them how deeply I admire their work. So, can we find a way to make this happen?
Well in a way David you have met them all today but as for the story, come on Sully, you're the ideas man! Thinking Hats on everyone - maybe we can all write it!
If you were an ice cream cone, which flavour would you prefer?
Chocolate. No question about that.
Describe in one sentence your perfect day.
Harmonious and creative.
It is not every day we have a successful writer and published novelist, journalist, blogger of note and photographer on the show, so shall I provide readers with a short resume of your literary and professional accomplishments?
David is a Walkley Award-nominated journalist based in Melbourne.
David is an internationally published photographer and travels the world with his cameras. I suspect he would not avoid another chance to photograph another charging grizzly, or worse, even after his 'grizzly' experience.
David is a well known published author and has written three novels. His first, Vegemite Vidaloo , was a best seller from July to December 2006, published by Penguin Books in April of that year. I have added a link to a post he wrote about this HERE.
David's second novel is due for publication soon, again by Penguin. It is a war time love story. (You old romantic, you, David). The title is Muskoka Maharani.
David, you are a giant in the blogging community, with followers peaking at almost 1000 on Authorblog and recognised by Google as a Blog of Note. There are those who marvel still at how you managed to post so prolifically and consistently, running your regular features, Post Of The Day, The Sunday Roast, Verse and Worse, Humorous Posts, Serious and Photographic posts WHILST finding time to visit us and comment . . . . plus a little thing like earning a living. To a man and woman we find this feat truly amazing. You know, perhaps of all the posts I miss the most it has to be your Verse and Worse - I just loved that to bits, adding my own efforts in your comments box, as seeing all the laughs you got.
And finally, now you get to ask me a question in return - it's the least I can do. OK fire away!
Do you grow a beard each December, to return to your secret identity as Santa Claus?
I have to, David - anything to aid my escape from Mrs Bluelights! If I stayed at home she'd find me loads of extra jobs to do, so I figured it is much easier to grow a beard, get into my Santa outfit, hitch up Rudolph with his mates to the sleigh and then deliver all those presents to the kiddies. Besides that it's well worth getting stuck up chimneys from time to time for all those mince pies and glasses of Sherry, wouldn't you agree? You know, it is really difficult delivering all this stuff in such a short time. I wrote a post recently explaining just how difficult it really is, see HERE. Oh and by the way I always take my camera with me, whether or not I have a beard. I never know who or what I might meet! You have trained me well maestro!!
Thank you David for appearing in this special edition - I am highly honoured to host it and to carry on with your great column, The Sunday Roast.
I am sure everyone in BlogLand wishes you success in all your ventures. Please visit us from time to time whenever possible because there is nothing any of us like better than seeing this familiar 'piccie' along with a comment from you.
And finally, David, I am sure I speak for us all in thanking you for all the help and advice you have given so freely and generously. God bless you, David.
Screen Save of David's Authorblog website showing his last post in September.
To date over 290 comments are placed by his then almost 1000 followers
of which approximately 900 have remained loyal.
David now features on Red Bubble with his photographic essays.
Today's Sunday Roast with David McMahon is the 100th in a weekly
series of interviews with bloggers from around the world. _______________________________________________________
This interview will feature in The Roll of Honour
for all published Roasts. To view press HERE __________________________________________________
Next week's roast is Eva Gallant