The Dirty Dozen… with Denis Young!

Welcome to another edition of The Dirty Dozen!

This is my own spin on the author/blogger interview. It will hopefully create something entertaining and informative for you, the reader, while sharing what platform I have with the amazing and talented people who have so bravely (foolishly?) volunteered to take part. Not all of these questions are easy, but hopefully they will give you an insight into the person on the other side of the screen. Ultimately, blogging is all about making connections. Show your humanity, show your love, and support each other. Because really, what else is there?

This week, I’m delighted to be hosting Denis Young in the Dirty Dozen “hotseat”.

Denis is a fellow haiku-obsessive from Melbourne, Australia, who is passionate about the environment, about photography, about Afghan hounds, and about Rupert Murdoch… as you’ll see below! Please go and check out his wonderful blog at

1 – How in all the gin joints in all the world did you come across my blog?
In two words, Ronovan Writes. In a few more- when I decided to share my love of images I capture on camera and their accompanying haiku the idea of creating a blog came to mind. Months later and very few visitors to my site I was wondering what to do. My main supporter and visitor was Sue Vincent of Daily Echo and the small dog ANI, who writes amazing haiku with incredible images (Sue does as well). I kept seeing her reference to Ronovan Writes challenge so I dropped in and the world of haiku sharing through blogs exploded upon me. Many visits and visitors later one of the true exponents of haiku has become a regular I must read and learn from each week. That of course is you Al.

Thanks Denis. I wonder how many blogs have been connected through Ronovan’s haiku challenge? I know most of mine began there, connecting with fellow haiku-ers, and expanding outwards from there

2 – You, in three words?
Environmentalist, egalitarian, humanist- optimist (and lover of Afghan Hounds)

3 – The last film that you wish you’d made?
This is a tough one. Any film with Meryl Streep in it just to learn life from her, an amazing woman who could have been the first female President of the USA if she had wanted to.

4 – Where are you now on your writer’s / blogger’s journey?
Well, I am a late developer in terms of fiction. I started writing for money in the late 1990’s and this was brainstorming teaching ideas and text segments for History/Geography/Social Science text books for junior secondary school students and teachers. I did this kind of writing until 2014 on and off as a hobby, spare cash earner. In all my name is on about 20 books as a co-author. And I was smart enough to use some of my own photos sometimes and still get regular copyright requests for reprints.

I have started planning /drafting /researching my first novel. It is a family based story linked by the Japanese army sword brought back to my grandmother in 1945 by a soldier who had been with her son, (my uncle) when he was killed in battle. This story drifts across the life of my uncle and his family up to now, it interconnects with a fictional family of the Japanese officer who died holding the sword. Currently the sword sits in my clothes cupboard and is an item of intense family bitterness. There is a lot of emotional demons / family dysfunctionality / dreams unfulfilled / lessons to learn / and pure imagination in this story. Wish me luck everyone!

My other writing love is haiku. On the haiku hound blog you and your readers can read some of my haiku and share images of my life and the places I visit. I belong to Writer’s Victoria here in Melbourne and meet monthly with a bi-lingual Japanese Australian haiku writers group. We also read our haiku to other poets a couple of times a year.

Last year I attended a writer’s workshop to help organise thoughts for my novel. After one creative session I had a planned draft for a children’s book. The subject is a sheep who escapes into the Aussie bush for a few years and hangs out with kangaroos and gets up to other adventures. Many kilos of accumulated wool later she returns to the outside world to fame and acclaim. The group on that day were excited by the potential of my story, so if there is an illustrator reading Al’s interview and we agree on a contract there is a book on the way.

Having been a self-described late developer, there’s no shortage of ideas fizzing around in Denis’s head. I particularly look forward to the novel based around the sword, if those emotional demons can be channelled into the story. Good luck!

5 – A lot of writers and bloggers enjoy taking part in quote challenges, and sharing inspiring nuggets to help their fellow bloggers along. Can you tell us though one piece of life / writing advice, or quote about life / writing, that you are absolutely sick of hearing, that really doesn’t do it for you?
32 years of secondary school teaching led me to believe that advice is a dangerous word. Guidance through practical positive example works for me. I ignore quote challenges and inspiring nuggets. Does this make sense? Basically I don’t look for such stimulation and don’t participate.

Denis is clearly an advocate in life as well as on the page in “show, not tell”.

6 – Two true facts about you, and one lie…. Don’t tell us which is which.
How can I lie Al? Even in jest?
I remained a secondary school teacher for 32 years straight and believe I made the right career choice
I have been a University Lecturer
I am utterly absorbed in Japanese culture and language.

7 – The zombies rise and take over the world. You have five minutes to pack a bag and hit the road… You’ve got the essentials – water, tent, sleeping bag, vitamins, toothpaste, boomerang… What else do you grab?
A large poster of Rupert Murdoch… rumours hint that it does to zombies what a crucifix and garlic does to vampires!

So, Denis, you’re not fan of Mr Murdoch then!

8 – I’m often mistaken for John Cusack (quiet at the back). But who would play you in the movie of your life?
George Clooney would be me, with a little make up work (sorry George). Sofia Coppola would direct. Denis Young would write the screenplay of course. Lisa Gerrard would score the soundtrack.

9 – Emmett Brown pulls up outside your house in the DeLorean… He’s got a few hours to spare, and fuel for one return trip… Where/when are you heading?
I would be heading for my current location in Melbourne in the year 2116. When I get back I would have the hard evidence for climate change deniers in Australia and worldwide, (but especially in Political Australia now) to shove up their….mouths… and bring on immediate rapid response to reduce CO2 emissions and speed up renewable energy use , assuming we don’t get a rapid response in the next 5 years.

A passionate response there. Denis literally wants to save the world. I feel guilty now about wanting to use it to go and just have a few glasses of mead with Shakespeare….

10 – Your beloved partner (real or imagined) is out for the evening, and your celebrity “pass” is popping round. (You know, the one celebrity who your partner would allow you to spend a night with, without it being considered cheating… that’s a thing, right?) Who knocks on your door?
Meryl Streep knocks on the door. I make a wicked gluten free chicken pie with steamed organic veggies. Dessert would be green tea ice cream and organic raspberries. We drink Temple Bruer organic preservative free Pinot Noir. I play the soundtrack to August Osage County and keep repeating Lay Down Sally by Clapton very loud, and it sounds great on my B & O system.
The night ends with the line, “well Meryl it’s been a lovely evening but we’re both busy people and both need an early night, I’ll call a taxi”…

A fantastically detailed response there. It’s amazing how often I ask people this question and they claim never to have thought about it… and then provide an answer like this 😉

11 – You manage, fortuitously but entirely accidentally in a bizarre toaster incident to rid the world of its most dangerous inhabitant… Who do you call to help destroy the evidence, and burn that hairpiece?
I guess it was dumb of me to leave the hairpiece attached to the back of his scalp when I suggested an industrial toaster as the quickest means to freshen it up a bit.
I would call in an experimental Chinese Bio Tech team who could actually maintain a near perfect walking, talking, grinning, slightly zombie-like reconstruction including hairpiece. No-one would know he had unfortunately accidentally expired except perhaps the wife who would be known to exclaim at times that she no longer felt old age creeping up on her.

This made me laugh out loud… I think Denis has rumbled my “code” about the hairpiece!

12 – Another apocalyptic scenario, only now the pet food is running out… You have a dog, a cat, and a rabbit, but only food supplies for two of them… Which one misses out?
I am truly an animal lover and even carefully catch spiders and wasps when they are inside and release them at the local kindergarten. So this really causes anguish. Charlie as any of my blog readers would know was a wonderful dog, so the dog stays. Whilst cats don’t have the loyalty of dogs I guess the cat stays. Charlie came from a rural background and her family of dogs dispatched many rabbits away when they trespassed into the run paddock. Therefore, rationally I guess, the dog and cat could extend their food supply with fresh rabbit. I am very sorry to all rabbit lovers but Al insists.

My job application for the Rabbit Protection League seems to have been rejected. Can’t think why…

13 – In a line, any regrets??
I am a firm believer that our life unfurls as we have it predestined. Karma is karma. So Al, I have no regrets because I live the life I am programmed for. Also readers you must remember once you wish you changed one action or incident in your life everything after that would have been different. That means none of you would be reading Al’s interview now. However, in my parallel universe………..

Thanks for this opportunity Al.
Any commercial or other offers can be handled through Al for a 5% commission.

I thought we agreed 15%?…


So, a huge thank you to the passionate, plain-speaking Denis Young for sharing himself with us, a retired school teacher George Clooney-look-a-like who wants to save the world from climate change and Rupert Murdoch… while working on his menu for entertaining Meryl Streep.

I wish him the best of luck with completing his first book, and look forward to more of his wonderful haiku and photography in the meantime. Now, go and check out his blog, and share the love 🙂

Join us same time next week for another Dirty Dozen!

Do you fancy a turn in the hotseat, with a new batch of questions? (This is aimed at bloggers as well as writers, so don’t be shy!) Leave your email in the comments and I’ll be in touch 🙂

The Dirty Dozen

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Author: Al Lane

Writer, Poet, Daydreamer

14 thoughts on “The Dirty Dozen… with Denis Young!”

  1. What a thoughtful collection of responses! Denis, I love what you said about “advice” versus “guidance.” This was a nice introduction to you, Denis. And, Al… A pleasure, as always! 😀

  2. Thanks for the intro to Denis, Al. I’m always eager to meet another poet, writer, optimistic environmentalist, and avid fan of Ruperty Murdoch. 🙂 Happy Mother’s Day.

    1. Optimistic is the least Australian environmentalists have to be Diana. We have a climate change denying federal government who have just called an election for July 2nd. Let the battle begin!! And as for Rupe!!! I shall contain.

  3. Finally!!! Some testosterone in the dozen! Loved all the organic yummis in the romantic meal, perhaps I can do my Meryl Streep imitation and sneak in for a great meal when no one is looking… 🙂

  4. We have a Meryl Streep detector at the front door Annette however you could sit on the porch and look forward to any leftovers from the meal and I would make sure you don’t go hungry!!

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