DG Allan has done his time as a journalist and spends his spare moments writing a dictionary of second level English words, as well as an autobiography of his great, great grandfather.
What exactly makes DG Allan tick, and how you can get in touch with him for a review? DG Allan took time out of his busy schedule to oblige my interview and answer those very questions.
I’ve always been interested in reading, and writing is, naturally, a pre-condition. I’ve been an avid reader since childhood. I love a good story, but particularly, I adore history and science.
Q: The Overused Question: eReader or Paperback?
Q: If you could pick the brains of any author, who would it be and why?
Difficult question. I’d love to have a deep and meaningful with Shakespeare, but that’s a bit hard now. The same applies to John Wyndham, George Orwell and JRR Tolkien. Alternatively, a chat with Jack Lynch, Professor of English at Rutgers University in the USA would be an achievement.
Q: What was the last fiction novel you read that blew you away?
Not being a keen reader of fiction, this question is a bit hard. From a “can’t put down” or “page turner” perspective it would have to be Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, by John Le Carre.
Q: What entices you to read a book?
Nothing, I’ll read whatever I can get my hands on.
Another difficult question. No, no favourites, an author must be judged on his or her merits for each publication, whether it be book, article or commentary.
Q: You typically review non fiction. Is there a reason you prefer non fiction?
As I remarked above, I’m not now a great fan of fiction. As a young person, however, I was a keen reader of fiction. I read everything that was available; John Wyndham, JRR Tolkien, John Le Carre, John Marsden etc. As I grew older, I became more interested in actual events rather than fictional. I turned to biography, history and science. In many respects, these topics can provide much more interest and wonder than fiction. Real events are often more intriguing than invention.
Q: What was your favorite book as a child?
A cat in a hat.
Q: Have you written anything of your own?
As a journalist, yes, many things. When it comes to books, not so far. However, I'm in the process of writing two books. The first is a sort of dictionary, based on what I refer to as second level English words. That is, words you would encounter in a book review, literary article, newspaper comment or book, that you would not ordinarily come across in everyday spoken conversation.
The second, is a history of my great, great grandfather, who came to Australia in 1829 as Colonial Surgeon for New South Wales. My preliminary research indicates that this is going to require a great deal more work before the book can begin to come together.
Primarily, a book review should give me an idea as to whether I want to read the book or not. It should also tell me some detail about the subject matter and how the author has dealt with that, of course. But, what I'm really looking for is an indication as to whether the book makes a change to our understanding of the world.
Q: On your profile, you mention that you’re a journalist. What do you write in this capacity?
I was a freelance journalist in the late 1990s and, although not earning any money to speak of, wrote science-based articles, which were published in the local broadsheet and other publications.
Q: Do you have a favourite quote?
“If we do discover a complete theory, it should in time be understandable in broad principle by everyone, not just a few scientists. Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists, and just ordinary people, be able to take part in the discussion of why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason - for then we would truly know the mind of God.” (Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time)
Q: What is the next book on your ‘to be read’ list?
My next read, which I’m part-way through, is a book called “The End” by Ian Kershaw about Germany in 1944 to 1945 when everything came apart for the German state. With the western allies on one or two fronts and the Soviet Union on the other, Germany fell to bits; militarily, socially and culturally. Notwithstanding the horrors of Germany’s acts of barbarism at that time, the book, as it describes the effect of the end for the German people, is quite sad and poignant.
This leads me to the next book on the list, “Yalta” by S M Plokhy about the deal done between the USA, Britain and the Soviet Union to defeat Germany. Subtitled “The Price of Peace”, the book deals with the concessions needed to secure the Soviet Union’s support to the end the war by establishing a third front to finally defeat the Germans. In my view, and as a result of the Yalta negotiations, the second world war didn’t really come to an end until 1989, when the Soviet Union finally collapsed.
Q: Have you always been a lover of books?
Yes. They are an inherent part of my life, like my wife and family.
Q: If you could recommend one book to everyone out there, what would it be?
A recommendation for one book to everyone is a tall order. It would have to be fairly generic and have a broad interest base. I think “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee might be it.
DG Allan is currently taking review submissions for non fiction work. Applications can be made via the website contact page linked below.