Mark-Just read One Mississippi tonight and loved it, but I have one
question.I didn't quite understand the reference to the 5 spots of
baldness after being touched by the perverted guy..is this one of those
urban legends/old wives tale things, or did he just pull out his own
hair after the incident?Sorry for being so dense!
Thank you for writing to me. This is is a question that book clubs
often ask. My answer, which may seem a bit coy, is that some things are
not supposed to be explained by the author. They exist because they
exist. I intend for my readers to puzzle things like this out for
themselves and to choose which solution is for them the most
satisfactory. Thanks for reading ... cheers, Mark.
Mark, I recently retired and started reading again. I had bought your
novel Tender in 1990 and it has been on my book shelf all this time. I
did not know what a gold mine of fun I had left on the shelf. I will be
purchaseing more of your works soon. I just wanted to thank you for
your wonderful works that I get to enjoy. Thanks - Harley
Hey Harley, I'm tickled that you found that old book on your shelf
where it had been waiting for you all the time. It's funny - sometimes
people apologize because "I haven't read your book yet" - and I say
that one of the things I love the most about books is that they will
wait for you, you can save them, and that's what I do, hoard them up
until the reading time is right. Last fall I saved up Roth "The Plot
Against America" to read on a train in Switzerland and it was PERFECT.
Thank you for writing to me. Cheers, Mark C.
Hi Mark, I just finished Crazy in Alabama for the second time. After
the first reading a few years ago, I went to the library and checked
out Tender and Gone for Good. Unfortunately that was all they had of
yours at the time. Recently I was in a thrift store and found a hard
copy of C in A for $1.99 and had to have it. I'm sorry those sales
don't help your profit, but hope you can appreciate the pleasure your
book has brought to at least 2 different people. After visiting your
website, I did go to Amazon and ordered the rest of your books. I am
eagerly awaiting their delivery. If you have time I wonder if you could
answer a few questions. Somewhere in your bio I saw the line "Fear of
Finishing." When I took a writing class I wrote a comic ghost story
that the instructor said should be submitted. I sent it to one magazine
that told me it wasn't right for them. Even though I thought it was
entertaining, I never tried again. Is this common? I keep coming up
with story ideas, get halfway through the story and then quit. When I
go back to these stories months later and read them with a fresh eye, I
get hooked on them and mad at myself for not finishing. Any advice? Is
Billy and Jimmy just a movie script or will it be published so we can
read it? I thought the Crazy book was much better than the movie. Do
you have any plans to come to Michigan for any book signings or
lectures? If so could you tell me when and where? Thanks for mentioning
Fannie Flagg's writing so I know to look for her work. I remember her
from the old quiz shows, but never realized she was a writer. Anyone
else you can suggest would be appreciated. Thank You for the hours of
entertainment you have given me. Cece G. in Keego Harbor, MI
Hey Cece, Thank you for reading, for ordering some of the books, and
for writing to me. Your compliments are very kind. I have to tell you
that I buy bargain books all the time so no apologies needed. Regarding
your question about finishing, I address just that topic in a talk I
gave at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, in a just-published book
called "Writers Conference in a Book" from Chronicle. In sum, I
theorize that we dont finish because the work doesn't measure up to the
ideal work we envisioned when we began. You just gotta keep plugging.
"Billy and Jimmy" is so far just a script, and since I don't own it, I
can't publish it. I envy you getting to discover Fannie Flagg's work
for the first time. She is a wonderful writer. Cheers, Mark C.
Hi Mark, Cece G. in Keego again. Finished Can't wait to get there and
Fried green Tomatoes. Thanks again for the Fannie Flagg recommendation.
Hopefully your books will be here today when I get home from work.
Thanks! Cece G.
Hey Cece, Glad you liked Fannie's books - and there are several more. Enjoy... Cheers, Mark C.
I've recently become addicted to books on cd which make my drive from
Clinton, MS to Vicksburg, MS (where I work) so much easier. 'One
Mississippi' was just fabulous. I couldn't wait for my trip to work in
the morning to finish up the last cd so had to bring it inside this
afternoon. What a great book. How fun it is to listen to a story about
places that you recognize! Side note - I, too, graduated in '74
(although I was in Heidelberg Germany) but both of my daughters went to
Clinton High School. Keep up the great writing, can't wait to consume
more of your works. Karen Buehler
Hi Karen, I'm delighted that my little tale has made that commute
easier for you. I used to make that drive a lot myself ... my high
school friends and I hung out at the National Military Park just like
the characters in "One Mississippi." Congrats to your daughters for
surviving CHS, too. Cheers, Mark C.
Hi Mark-- You were one of my workshop leaders at Squaw last year. (One
of the hopeful faces in the crowd that day). I appreciated your candor,
honesty and all that you brought to the critiquing process. It was a
phenomenal week. Thanks again for your time, and all the best to you.
-- Jamie Ford
Hi Jamie, I'm happy you had a good time in our workshop at Squaw
Valley. I really enjoy my time there every year and hope to see you
back as a Published Alum! Cheers, Mark C.
I think I am related to you. My mother's family name is Childress, and
my mother's aunt, her father's sister, was Mary Ellen (Childress)
Rouse. Most of my mother's people live in Lucedale, MS. josh fryfogle
Hi Josh, Nice to meet an extended cousin. I don't know of the aunt you
mention, but there seem to be Childresses scattered from Carolina to
Texas and even points further beyond. Take care, Mark C.
Mark, I enjoyed seeing you in Monroeville! As you signed my copy of One
Ms., I rushed you with an awkward invitation to our On the Brink
Writers Conference in Jacksonville! Now that we have picked a date for
it, I've been asked to extend a more official invitation! Our history
can be found at www.jsu.edu/depart/english. At least you can see what
sort of company you are joining by being one of our featured writers!
The conference will be held on February 9, 2008, (principally) on the
campus of Jacksonville State University in Jacksonvile, AL. On the
evening of the 8th (Friday) when the eight authors first arrive in
town, an informal reception is held for the participating writers, the
committee, and the media. The two main sessions are on Saturday where
each author is asked to read for 5-8 minutes and answer questions from
the attendees. Two book signing sessions and an informal lunch with the
readers complete the 9:00-4:00 public part of the day. An informal
supper at Steve Whitton's house completes Saturday's activities. See
how often I used "informal"? We set out to be unstuffy. What can one
expect for our paltry honorarium!? Which we can discuss if you will
e-mail me ... I hope you summer is going well, that your works in
progress are moving along satisfactorily, and that all your previous
books are selling like beer on the redneck Riviera! Please let us know
whether anything about my plea will lure you to break up dreary old
February by visiting us! Thank you. Judy McKibbin On the Brink Writers
Hi Judy, Thanks so much for your kind invite! It really sounds like a
fun time in Jacksonville ... that's an area I know pretty well because
I used to be an aficionado of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival back in
the day! (Still am in its Mgmy digs) I'll email at the address you gave
me, and hope to see you! All best, Mark C.
Mark, Great to see you in Monroeville. I like the small town atmosphere
for the conference, and wonder if I am the only writer who actually
went to school at ASCC. Your session on Saturday in the courthouse was
the highlight of the conference (although the music was certainly
superb and a good contender for top billing). The galleys from Oh Don't
You Cry for Me will be out in the early fall I hope. Not sure how to
send them. Finishing edits on the last story this week. I hope you're
having fun with the latest book. - Philip
Hey everybody, I look forward to reading the new story collection from
Philip Shirley, an old friend from U. of Ala. days. Watch this space.
Cheers, Mark C.
Hey Mark, Glad to see you are continuing to write great books. I
recommend your work often. Spoke to Fox and Woody recently. Long way
from Tuscaloosa! Tim Powell
Howdy Tim, Long time no hear! I just heard from Jim Martin (formerly
PC) so it must be ole Malleteer reunion week. Next time you drop by
click the email link at right and send me a mail so I can write you
back. Cheers, Mark C.
Hey Mark! Where've I been? My local librarian, Sunday School friend
recommended your book on tape for my drive to Gulf Shores. I usually
take a 6 hr book so it's finished at the end of the trip. Alas, not
true with this book and I've found every possible reason to be in the
car this week--and with gas so high!!! I remember so many similar
events of the time being a boomer myself. Wetumpka is next door to
Montgomery so we had a front row seat to the many activities. The only
thing that bothered me was your continuous references to Lucille going
to prison in Atmore if convicted. Everyone in Alabama my age and older
knows the only women's prison was Julia Tutwiler which happens to be
located here in Wetumpka. She also wrote our state song, so a little
more trivia for you. Check out my facts concerning the prison
situation. When I was a child and probably until near your time period
Kilby in Montgomery would have been the main men's prison. Thought
you'd enjoy these facts. Can't wait to take another trip so I can read
another of your books. Bettie
Hi Bettie, Thanks for checking the audiobook out from your local
library. And thanks also for your note about prisons in Alabama. It's
actually been about 15 years since I did the fact-checking on "Crazy,"
but my thought at the time was that every woman ever executed for a
capital crime in Alabama since Holman was built at Atmore was executed
at Atmore. There weren't many of them, but they were all brought down
to see "Ol' Sparky." But it is true Lucille probably would have gone to
Tutwiler until she was moved to Holman's Death Row. Luckily for
Lucille, she didn't have to go anywhere but to Hollywood. Cheers, Mark
Hey, Mark!!! Thanks for being the wonderful person you are in the
chance encounter this afternoon at the PO. (Heavens know the inner dork
in me likes to rear its ugly head!) But I did want to let you know that
moment of serendipity has thoroughly made my week. :o) Never stop
writing -- rock on! - Beau M. (mahurinmusic.com)
Hey Beau, It was fun to meet you at the PO in Montgomery. Next time
I'll know not to wear that shirt in the one city on earth where
somebody might actually recognize me! Thanks again for reading and for
using my book in your class. Look forward to seeing you again. Cheers,
Hi Again, Well, I am on the last adult book of yours that I have
haven't read yet,(Gone For Good) and I'm afraid I'm gonna have to read
your children's books soon..(l0l)..I am an avid reader and a complete
convert to the 'Childress School of Escapism" 'Gone For Good' is as
fine a 'read' as the others. I am a musician out here in Los Angeles so
obviously I love all the music 'stuff'. ..Wavy Gravy!! my god, I
haven't thought about him in 30 years..yes,I was there..and met W.G.
many times backstage.At some time I will send you a private post so you
can learn a bit more about me. Just want to thank you again for the
great reads!! Robert Wolin (How do YOU know about Wavy Gravy..and all
the other stuff from Tender etc? Are you a musician as well??)
Hi Robert, Well if you're forced to read the kids' books, at least it
won't take you as long. I am so tickled that you like "Gone for Good."
It is one of my own favorites but it was a very misunderstood child of
mine, which may be one reason I'm partial to it. I'm also delighted to
hear that you knew the Wave man. Never met him but he did show up at
every Bay Area music event when I lived there. I'm a big music fan and
make the occasional stab at playing piano and keyboards, but mostly I'm
a wannabe musician. One reason I wrote "Tender" was to feel what it
would feel like to be a rock and roll star ... and I have a funny
feeling that's the only way it'll ever happen. Thanks again for
reading, and for writing in. Cheers, Mark C.
Mark, I just checked out your Beatles lens, and thought you'd be
interested to know I have a wall in my office pasted with album covers,
in order of most-fave to least fave. The Beatles occupy the first three
slots (Rubber Soul is first), then slots eight and nine, then number 29
(of 30). I've applied to Squaw this year, and if I get in I'll say hey,
and show you a pic of my wall. Bet you've got most of the same stuff I
have! -- Renee Thompson
Hey Renee, That is very cool. I don't know how it could get any better
than "Rubber Soul," although the older I get the more I love "The White
Album." Thirty years on, and still way ahead of its time. Anyway, I
hope you get in Squaw Valley and be sure and give me a holler if you
do. Cheers, Mark C.
Mark, My daughter and I saw you today at the Cullman Library. She is an
aspiring writer and a University of Alabama student. On our way home
she and I were talking about you and how you had signed her books. She
said, "He didn emen ask how to spell my name." We both burst out
laughing. Then I said, "A few days ago, we wouldna emen noticed how you
said that." We are, alas, real, real southern. We enjoy your books, and
we appreciate the fact that you appreciate southerness. Vicky Spear,
Cullman County, Alabama
Hey Vicki, Sorry for delay answering - I had such a great time in
Cullman! Great turnout, nice folks, interesting discussion. I am
tickled that you brought your daughter and y'all had a good time, too.
Thanks for reading, for showing up, and I hope to see you next time I'm
in Cullman. Cheers, Mark C.
Hi Mark! Clinton High School, Class of '74... and I believe we had a
class or two together. I just started reading ONE MISSISSIPPI today and
(duh!!) suddenly put it together that you are the same Mark Childress
from high school!! (When you get our age --cough cough-- some things
just are slow to register.) Congrats on a fine career, Mark! You are
very talented and I am so proud of you! Keep up the good work. --naomi
Hey Naomi, Great to hear from you! It's so fun when "old Arrows" show
up on the site! Wish they would throw a CHS reunion, but perhaps we're
all too elderly to show up now.... Cheers, Mark C.
Mark - I just finished reading One Mississippi - I really didn't know
much about it when I picked it up. I immediately recognized the
description of Clinton High School, then recognized a few names and
realized you had to have been a couple of classes behind me! I moved to
Clinton in 1961, graduated from CHS in 1971, and from MC in 1974 and
now live in Atlanta. It was like deja vu reading this book and reliving
my high school years, although with a fiction twist! Thanks for a great
Hey Anon, Thanks for writing in. I enjoy hearing from all my readers
but it gives special pleasure to hear from somebody who lived through
the same years in Mississippi that I got it more or less right. It's
not exactly CHS, as you know ... but I did borrow a lot of aspects of
the physical plant! All I can say is, Go Arrows. Cheers, Mark C.
Hi there! Magicmardi here. I just read that you are going to be in New
Orleans for the Tennessee Williams Festival! I hope you have a great
time and raise a ton of $$$$$at the benefit. Why don't you plan on
going again next year because guess what!?!?! I'm moving to NOLA
(Frenchquarter) for 6 months beginning in January! Laissez les bon
Hey Mardi, Just back from New Orleans. Had a great time trying to raise
a few $with such luminary writers as Donna Tartt, Christopher Rice,
Kevin Sessums, and Frank Turner Hollon. In my drives around the city I
was struck this time, as every time, by the slow pace of the demolition
that must precede any effort at reconstruction. Mayor Nagin seems to
have produced yet another plan. That's what New Orleans needs a whole
lot less of: plans. Action is in short supply. Congrats on making the
move. You'll love living there. Say hello to the Verti Marte for me....
cheers, Mark C.
My Book Club started in September 1998 with Crazy in Alabama. It was a
hit with us! I would like to select One Mississippi and was wondering
if you would be in the Northern California area any time and could
visit us? I'll pick the book for the time you can visit! By the way, we
have a common friends, Pam and Alex Constantino. Pam was the one who
suggested Crazy in Alabama those many years ago! I hope you'll be
around! Cheers, Patty Hoyt
Hey Patty, Always great to hear from a friend - and thanks so much to
you and your book club for your choices now and present. Not sure when
exactly I'll be in N. Cal., but shoot me an email (link is to the right
and down) and maybe we can at least arrange a phoner. Say hey to A
& P for me.... Cheers, Mark C.
I have assigned my Alabama Literature students (EH423) a research
project which includes at least one of your works, and they are
complaining that there isn't enough literary criticism available for
them to read. That was the plan. They have to use their brains for
ideas instead of others! Anyway, I was making certain I knew what was
out there that they could beg, borrow, or steal, and decided to let you
know that you are loved in your home state (by the teacher, if not the
students who cannot find something to copy)!
Hey Teach, Thanks for the assignment and for writing in. As you and
your students have divined, there isn't much in the critical
literature. But there have been tons of newspaper and magazine reviews
of my books ... there are extracts under each book's page on this site.
Just go to "Work" and click on the title. Tracking down the full
reviews should be a challenge for the students, and then they can copy
to their heart's content from obscure Left Coast periodicals. Let me
know how it went, will you? Cheers, Mark C.
Help restore the public libraries of New Orleans. You will be listed as
a Beatitude on the site The Beatitudes at
www.beatitudesinneworleans.blogspot.com , dedicated to the serialized
novel, The Beatitudes, Book I in The New Orleans Trilogy. Out of New
Orleans before the catastrophe that was made by a hurricane and, as
Dante wrote, “of false gods who lied,” comes The Beatitudes, part one
in the New Orleans Trilogy. The Beatitudes portrays New Orleans as
Dante’s purgatory, a place were the sins of men are exposed for all to
see, where redemption is close at hand but most often lost. Hopefully,
you will also list this site on yours and every time someone clicks on
it they will think about donating to supporting literature in New
Orleans. A good fund is The New Orleans Public Library at
www.nutrias.org and click on Friends of the NOPL Restoration Funds.
When The Beatitudes is published, substantial profits will be donated.
Note: if you do not wish me to list you as a Beatitude, please email me
Hey Lyn, Thanks for writing in. Best of luck with both your fundraising and your novel. Cheers, Mark C.
Mark, as a Southerner living in the North, my friends often take the
opportunity to have fun at my expense. Including when they gave me a
copy of "Crazy in Alabama" as a 'gag' Christmas present. Well, the joke
was on them because A) I thoroughly enjoyed it, and B) I noted on the
back cover that you were born in Monroeville, about a dozen miles from
my own hometown of Frisco City. This normally wouldn't have prompted me
to write an author, but today, bouncing randomly through Wikipedia
pages, I noted that you were also a student at the University of
Alabama. And a member of the Mallet Assembly. As I was. I would accuse
you of following me except for the fact we were there in different
years. And, in fact, I was in both places AFTER you. So instead, I
suppose I should just assure you that I'm not following YOU. At least
Hey Anon, Wow, we do have a lot in common. I used to spend a lot of
time in Mexia ... very close to Frisco City. Thanks for writing, and
glad your "friends'" gag gift backfired.... Cheers, Mark C.
Mark - As much as I enjoyed your reading at the Nashville Daivs-Kidd
bookstore in July 2006, I decided to save One Mississippi for just the
perfect time. That time finally came last weekend when Nashville had a
little snow - the perfect time to stay in and avoid the crazy Tennessee
drivers. I read the book between Friday and Sunday nights. I read a lot
of books - being in the book biz for almost 30 years has only enhanced
my love of reading. I first met you when you were in Nashville
promoting Tender, which I read and loved. I went back and read your
earlier books right away, and I've kept up with your work ever since.
The D-K reading was the first chance I've had to see you again, and you
did seem to have a dim recollection of our having met before. One
Mississippi has been with me all week. It was a powerful experience.
You're only a few years younger than I am, so the atmosphere and
experiences in Jackson were not that different from my own in
Knoxville. What struck so close to home is the parallels between my own
experiences and those of Daniel and Tim. I'm overwhelmed at the thought
that, with just a few twists of fate, my story could have been tragic
and not the charmed existance that it was. How often this is probably
true for people in general is a sobering thought. You've grown so much
as a writer. I appreciated your coments during the D-K event about
other writers whom you admire, especially your shout out to Fannie
Flagg, who is underrated by critics, but whose readers know just how
good she is. I look forward to your next work. Make sure your
promotional tour brings you within reasonable traveling distance for me
to attend another reading. Thanks for the gift of One Mississippi. All
the best, Keith Owens
Hey Keith, Great to hear from you. All you folks who came to Davis-Kidd
were so nice, so interested, and so kind to come out on a super-steamy
July evening. I apologize for only appearing to have a "dim
recollection" of our previous meeting. On a book tour, I would have
trouble recognizing my own mother if she came up and stood at the
table. See, you're often encountering people many years and miles away
from the context you last saw them, and on a schedule like that it can
leave you feeling brain-dead. Anyway, I'm tickled that you saved "One
Miss." for the right reading moment, and delighted that it satisfied
your expectations. I think one point I was trying to make in the book
was the point you make -- change a couple twists of fate and any of us
could be Daniel (or Tim, or Eric and Dylan, or any number of troubled
kids) ... thanks again for reading, and for writing in. Cheers, Mark C.
Mark, I wrote about a month or two ago after reading "One Mississippi"
and was so knocked out I asked you which book I should read next. You
(of course) said it was like asking you which child you like best. I
went out and bought "Crazy..." and loved it and then ordered "Tender".
I brought "Tender" on vacation with me..only 3 days in the mountains.
My wife asked me which other books to bring and I told her it was 560
pages so no other book would be necessary. Wrong!! I could not put it
down..I read the whole thing in 2 and a half days..Well I guess I have
another 'must read' author to enjoy.Thanks so much!! PS I found it
difficult to find some of your books so I went on line and searched for
"Tender". I ended up buying it used but I want to make sure in the
future the money goes directly to you. Where can I buy the books and be
sure you get the 'Sales'? (Only 3 more books to read..WRITE MORE!! LOL)
A new fan..Robert Wolin
Hey again, Robert. I'm glad you are enjoying the "oeuvre" and I must
tell you that you are the first person in history to tell me you wished
"Tender" was longer. I'm glad you're having a good time with the books.
And thank you for the urge to steer the sale my way. All my novels are
still in print (except "A World Made of Fire," and we're working on
that - you can buy used copies at www.alibris.com or www.abebooks.com )
... if you click on the "Work" link above, you'll see the jackets of
all the other books and can click straight through to Amazon to buy
them. (I'm typing as fast as I can!) Thanks and come back soon. Cheers,
Mark- You've probably seen a spike in sales of your book "One
Mississippi"; our book club read it (all 12 of us); it was a great
read. One member started at 4 PM and finished it at 1 AM- it definitely
got his interest. The book brought back many memories of the 70's and
those times in high school where "socially correct" was something that
was evolving. Great book- congratulations. Tommy Battle
Hey Tommy, Is that the same Tommy Battle who went to Bama the same
years I was there? In that case, Roll Tide, and Great Pair Says the
Bear (that's Golden Flake and Co-Cola for the rest of you) .... Yes, my
publisher did call me to let me know 12 copies had been sold, and now
the mystery is solved! Anyway I am delighted your club liked the book,
and it took you back to the time of plaid pants and Pintos. I hope our
paths cross before too long... Take care, and thanks for reading (and
writing to tell me) ... Mark C.
Mark, Hey I am actually a cousin of yours from Atlanta. My family is
from Alabama...My grandparents are Ted and Colleen Childress. My Aunt
and Mother are Mary Jean and Sherri Childress. But most importantly I
am Robin Ratterree. I am a freelance writer...Fresh out of school with
a degree in fashion journalism. I am a huge fan of yours..especially
with Crazy in Alabama! Knowing someone in my family could be such an
important writer...Well I figured I could do it too.You basically
inspired me to become a writer. I am a song writer by nature. But
because of my stage fright..I dont think I coculd ever be a singer for
a career..And you have to sing your songs to get them heard. But i
started writing short stories for my english class...I was a fashion
student at FIT in NYC and my teacher told me that I was definetly not
following my talents and that I should change to Fashion Jourmalism! I
really love writing...But its so hard to find work and get in the nitch
of things. If you have any advice on the matter..Like where to look for
jobs ..or how to write from your heart..I get writers block all of the
time..I will start writing and I am trying so hard..that after one
sentence it will look stupid and i start all over. Please if you have
any advice for me...it would mean the world to me. I am trying to get a
great internship..and I am willing to work for free..I was volunteering
at The Atlanta Steeplechase...but I want to work as a writer... and I
will work for free. I have experience with PR doing press packs...and
writing ads...I was going to get my masters in Art Direction..So i am
very experienced...Thanks for reading my email..It means more to me
than you know! -Robin
Hey Robin, It is really nice to know that another Childress has picked
up the pen. As Flannery O'Connor said, Any writer who has survived a
Southern childhood has enough material to last the rest of their lives.
Now, you've got so much on the ball you don't need advice from me, but
you asked so here it is: read read read, then write write write. That
writers' block thing you mention ... almost every writer has it. And
your instinct about the internship sounds just right - what a young
writer needs is experience and clips. Every sentence you write will
make you a better writer. Good luck and keep me posted. Cheers, Mark C
Hey Mark, Stumbled onto your Website, oddly enough, after reading an
NYT story sent to me about Flannery O'Connor. Nice site. I was
wondering if you have any concrete advice for old newspaper hounds who
would like to make the transition to other kinds of writing, the kind
that lasts. I've got the blog thang down. A certain source at UA tells
me you wrote your first novel in hotel rooms while working for Southern
Living. Is that true? Glynn Wilson, Editor & Publisher, The Locust
Fork News & Journal http://www.locustfork.net/news/
http://www.locustfork.net/blog/ The Southerner Journal
Hey Glynn, Yep in fact it is
true that I wrote much of "A World Made of Fire" in my evenings on the
road, mostly in Holiday Inns. Since the rooms all looked alike, it was
like being in my office every night. I enjoyed looking over the Locust
Fork News & Journal, and I recommend it to my readers. Now, as to
advice on writing books. The best advice I've ever received came in
several books: "On Becoming a Novelist" and "The Art of Fiction" by
John Gardner, "Bird by Bird" by Anne Lamott, "Mystery and Manners" by
your friend Flannery -- my hero, by the way -- and for more nuts and
bolts information on the business, "The Novel and Short Story Writer's
Market." Much better advice in these books than I could give. The only
piece I'll offer is: if you write something long, resist the urge to
show anybody until you've written at least five drafts. Let me know how
it goes. Cheers, Mark C.
Hi, I just finished One Mississippi and I was wondering if you could
clarify what Tim meant about Red in his letter to Daniel. Thanks, Karen
Hi Karen, Thanks so much for reading, and for your interest. I think
that's one of those questions an author just can't answer for the
reader. Part of the deal is that you have to decide for yourself. I'll
just say that all the information you need to decide is in the book ...
but balancing the information you've noted, also remember the
possibility that Tim's account of things is unreliable. Does that help?
Cheers, Mark C.
Hi, I found myself drawn to the cover of One Mississippi while at the
library. What a great read! I quickly requested your other books. Crazy
in Alabama and A World Made of Fire did not disappoint. I drifted back
in time with the characters and discovered I wanted more. I hope to
read all of your books, if the library doesn't get them I will buy
them! Wonderful Writings! Thank You! Sharon in Virginia
Dear Sharon, Thanks for reading, and for writing in. I'm looking
forward to visiting Virginia this spring for the Virginia Festival of
the Book - maybe see you there! (See the homepage for details.) Cheers,
Hi Mark! I picked up a copy of One Mississippi about a month ago and
started reading it yesterday at lunchtime. I *literally* couldn't put
it down until I finished it late last night. It was both a touching
story and a hilarious look into the dynamics of family and
coming-of-age. Keep writing more like it!
Hi Anonymous, Sorry to have monopolized your day but I am very happy you got into it. Thanks for writing. Cheers, Mark C.
Hi there from Magicmardi!! Just got back from 2 weeks in NOLA and I
have a good report. All the places that a tourist enjoys....French
Quarter, Garden District, Mag St, etc, are just about almost normal.
They do need everyone out there to go visit, tho! Fun, fun, fun again
in New Orleans! (and sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for your
next book, dear!)
Hey Mardi, Thank you for the report. I am looking forward to heading
down for Mardi Gras very soon. I agree that everyone who can should go
spend some leisure $in N.O. - they really need it. As to the next book
... I am in the beginning stages, and will try to do it faster this
time. Thanks! Stay in to uch. Best, Mark C.
Hello Mark, and thank you for giving us just another reason to smile
after reading one of your books. My favorite is still Crazy in Alabama.
Not only the book, but the film as well. My late Mother gave me a copy
of the book along with the words, "Lucille reminds me of you." After
reading it, I truly wondered what her opinion of me was! lol Or perhaps
she just had fantasies of me carting around my ex husbands head in a
Tupperware container.:) Being from Alabama, I identified in more ways
than one with the story and the characters, and the film was a delight
and stayed very true to the book. For the last six years I have been
residing in Scotland, a long way from my roots. But reading something
of yours always puts me back in that southern state of mind, bare feet
on warm green grass and iced tea. And that's what the south is after
all, a state of mind. Thank you Mark, I look forward to reading you for
a long time. P.S. I can't look at a piece of tupperware without
thinking of you..... and your Lucille. :) Warmest Regards, Sherry
Dear Sherry, Well, what can I say? It's really nice of you to write and
tell me that you've enjoyed the work. There's been a stir of interest
in the movie of "Crazy" since Antonio has just premiered his second
film as a director at Sundance. It's called "El Camino de los Ingleses"
in Spanish and "Summer Rain" in English, and I can't wait to see it.
You're right, I was lucky having Antonio as a director. He let me stay
close to the book in the script.... Cheers, Mark C.
Magicmardi here (again!). Just pre-ordered "One Mississippi" on Amazon
and I can't wait!!! I can't wait!!! It will be nice to relax on my
patio with a great book again! Wanted to let you know that I went back
to our favorite city again in April for Frenchquarter Fest. And it
almost seemed normal during the weekend of the Fest...music everywhere
you turned and people just loving life in the Quarter!!!! Wish the rest
of NOLA was faring as well. My fingers are crossed for this upcoming
hurricane season. Again, can't wait to get my hands on "One
Hi Mardi, Welcome back! Thanks for ordering a copy and thanks for the
update from the Quotas. I'm headed down in a few weeks for the American
Library Association and looking forward to 1/ seeing lots of old
friends and 2/ lunch at Commander's. Incidentally, folks, if you would
like an autographed copy of ONE MISSISSIPPI but don't live near the
places I'm going on tour, contact any of the good booksellers on my
tour before I get there (see home page) and I'll be glad to sign it for
you. Then they can ship it to you. Mardi, cheers and let me know how
you like the book when you've read it. Mark C.
HEY JUST WONTED 2 SAY HEY 2 MY FRIENDS DOWN IN SANTA FE SCHOOLS
Somebody wandered in from myspace.com !!!!
Hello, my name is Melissa Tenenbaum and I am a Magistrate Judge in
Miami, Florida. I am also a member of a book club that was originally
started by the President of the local ACLU chapter. It is my month,
May, 2006, to host the club for dinner and discussion of my book
selection. I have chosen Crazy in Alabama. I really knew nothing about
your book but was looking for books on cd's and there it was waiting
for me. I loved it and I hope that the rest of the club does also. I
was just wandering if you might be coming to Miami around May 31st and
would like to be the guest author at my home that evening. If not, I
have the interview that you gave at the end of the taped version. You
know, this is the first time that I have ever written to an author, but
your book was just such a hoot, yet with a true heart when you talk
about the civil rights struggle. I was driving along I-95 laughing one
moment and then crying the next. I can not wait to read another one of
your books. Thank you for dedicating your life to writing, you have a
true gift. Don't forget to let me know if you will be in town, would
love to meet you. Melissa Tenenbaum
Dear Judge Melissa, I believe you are the very first judge ever to post
to this page, and I thank you for your very kind sentiments. If it was
the unabridged full-length audio version you heard, you should know
that I CANNOT ABIDE the hokey performance by the actor, who made the
accents of the characters into caricatures, but if it leads you and
your book club to the book, then I'm delighted you found it. Would love
to attend your book club, and to bask in the warm waters of your coast
there, but unfortunately I'm stuck in chilly Manhattan for the Memorial
Day weekend. Anyway, enjoy the club and if you feel like coming back
and posting your club's conclusions, we'd be delighted to read them.
Take care! Cheers, Mark C.
Mark, We wanted to tell you how much we appreciate your literary works
and having our own typing & secretarial business in Anniston, would
love to work with you or any of your associates helping with typing,
proofreading, etc. Please let us know if we can work with you in any
capacity, Sheri & Jim @ Always One, Inc.
Dear Sheri and Jim, Thanks so much for writing in and for your kind
words. Maybe we have a reader or two who could use your valuable
services! Me, I'm still stuck here typing and typing myself because I
edit every time I retype.... Cheers, Mark C.
hi mark, every now and then i like to go on amazon and bn.com and type
in your name in the hopes that 8 (!!!) years after your last book that
a new title may appear (yes, i have been waiting a long long time...).
and tonight, while sitting here in my apt. on vacation in nyc, i typed
in your name and there it was; "one mississippi"...july...my evening
was just made. and so has my july. i can't wait, thanks for giving us
more. and i wanted to thank you for writing back to me personally a few
years ago when i posed the question of "when's the next one?", that was
very generous of you. you've been at the top of my list for a decade
and i look forward to your new work. thanks, mark! geoff
Hey Geoff, Thanks for your faithfulness and your patience. If you think
it seems a long time to you, imagine it from my point of view! Anyway I
hope you feel the new book is worth the wait. At the moment I'm living
through the dread times of pre-publication and hoping it all comes out
okay, but I'm happy with the book. Maybe I can meet you on tour (see
homepage for details) and sign your copy for you. Cheers, Mark C.
Dear Mark, I recently read your novel Crazy in Alabama for an American
Literature course at my University in Canada. This novel definitely
fascinated me not only on a pure enjoyment level, but through its use
symbolism and treatment of serious issues. I am currently in the
process of writing essay relating your novel to Mark Twain’s
Huckleberry Finn since as Hemingway stated, “All American writing comes
from [Huckleberry Finn]”.
So far, I am finding it incredibly difficult to find literary criticism
on Crazy in Alabama, which is surprising since it does deal with so
many issues. Therefore, I have been thinking, who better to ask about
the novel than the author. So, I am hoping you can answer a few
questions for me.
- When writing Crazy in Alabama did Huckleberry Finn influence you? If yes, then how?
- Do you feel there is any relationship between Huck Finn and Peejoe?
Why have you chosen to depict Peejoe, arguably the character most
concerned with social responsibility as being fascinated by death?
- How does death function in your novel? Thank you so much!!
If you can direct me to any literary criticisms on your novel, I would really appreciate it. Anne-Louise
Hey Anne-Louise, Thanks so much for your nice note, and your very
intelligent questions. You're right that there isn't much scholarship
about my work.....many years ago a professor at Auburn University,
Marian Carcache, wrote a piece for a Southern literary journal about my
first novel, A World Made of Fire, but that's the only one all I know
about. So I guess it is up to you to right the wrong!
Now, you'll probably think I'm just being evasive, but I think the
author of the book is precisely the one person on earth who cannot
answer your questions. Or, to put it another way, the entire book is
the answer to your questions, and for me to try to simplify it or "boil
it down" would be to reduce to a few sentences the complicated themes
that took me four hundred pages to express.
One clue, though: don't be too literal in interpreting Hemingway's
dictum about Huckleberry Finn. What I think Hemingway meant was that
all modern American fiction draws from the radical innovations of Huck:
the colloquial first-person interior occasionally unreliable narrator
has become a mainstay of modern American fiction.
Thanks for writing, and I hope this was of some limited help. Cheers, Mark C.
Thank you for this report.If and when you come back to the BIG
EASY,Please call.You can reach me at my office. Finis Shelnutt
RealEstate,504 524-1111.We will go across the street to Antoines. Ha!
What a great institution. Regards FINIS
Indeed it is a great institution, Finis, and even greater since you
saved all their wine. Still eating there for free? (Keep em honest!)
Will call when next in the Easy. Best, Mark C.
Hi Mark, I went to Clinton, Ms schools with you and Alan. I was Bonnie
Callahan then- Maureen, my sister was in your class. I was friends with
Alan. Love your books!!!
Hey Bonnie, Thanks so much for writing in! To quote Flannery O'Connor,
"anybody who survives a Southern childhood has enough material to last
them the rest of their lives." For we who survived CHS, that goes
doubly true! Be sure and let me know what you think of "One
Mississippi" this summer. All best, Mark C.
What interested you to write the book "Crazy in Alabama?"
Hi...I remember once being in line for an ice cream cone when I was a
kid, circa 1965, Greenville, Alabama, summertime/ There was no line at
the "colored" window so I went over there. All the white kids laughed
and made fun of me. That is the moment "Crazy" was born...I knew the
ice cream was the same, no matter which window it came out of, and the
rest of it was a mystery I'm still pondering. Cheers, Mark C.
Hi Mark: I'm glad I'm able to finally know for sure that you were a
member of the esteemed Mallet Assembly at the University of Alabama and
you graduated there the year (1978) I graduated high school and began
the University. Upon my arrival at the University I joined the most
illustrious non-greek dorm myself, and saw some of your earlier work
when the Birmingham newspaper carried a story you wrote comparing our
dorm to "Animal House" - I'll never forget the illustration
accompanying the article which showed one member holding another by his
feet from the third floor window. I really enjoyed "Crazy in Alabama"
and now I'm looking forward to "One Mississippi". Rick L., from Muscle
Hi Rick, Always nice to hear from fellow Malleteers. I won't reveal
here the real names of the guys involved in the window-dangling
incident, but I remember it like it was yesterday. Amazing, consider
what all we did in Mallet to damage our memories...Thanks for reading
and writing in. Mallet Forever! Cheers, Mark C.
I had the most wonderful visit yesterday with my new neighbor. We sat
watching the sun setting on Lake Jordan and the ducks finding their
resting places. She told of stories of her children and I learn you are
one of those.What an extrordinary woman with a gentle yet contagious
laugh. Next time you visit Miss Mary Helen, come on over and lets meet
and watch the boats sail and the ducks swim and the sun cast it's
wonderful colors over Lake Jordan. Connie Wilson
Hey Miss Connie, We are tickled that Mary Helen and Roy have such great
new neighbors, and I look forward to meeting you too. You're right, she
is something else. See you at the sunset! Cheers, Mark C.
Hey Mark, I think you lived, or was told you lived, on Magnolia
River..Did you live in a log cabin? If so, I lived in the same home as
you for awhile. Where did you live when you wrote Crazy in Alabama?
Hello Springite, I lived in San Francisco when I wrote "Crazy," but I
did indeed live in Blanche Weeks' cabin at the Springs for four
wonderful years. What a magic house, huh? I wrote V FOR VICTOR
there....and the house even makes a cameo appearance! See if you can
find it. Thanks for writing, Cheers, Mark C.
Darling I just thought I'd go on your site again and started readed
everyone's comments -- I was totally fascinated and almost missed a
meeting!! anyway just wanted to send this little note and to tell you I
am loving TENDER-- thank you a million and Happy Mardi Gras -- MUch
Love Julie Yip Halston
Oh my God, you guys, our first BONA FIDE CELEBRITY visitor ... Miss
Julie Halston is currently starring in "Hairspray" on Broadway and is
my fave rave. My heart flutters just to know her. See you soon, Miss J.
xoxo Mark C.
Hi Mark! It's your nephew Steven. Just want to say hi even though
you'll never see this. I bet you'll never read this but what the way? I
might as well add to your gigantic collection of messages.
Hi Steven, You lose your bet! Pay up! Love, your Unk.
Hi Mark, I am a fan who did not know where you were from until logging
onto the site for my 20th High School reunion where you are listed as a
"Famous Arrow." I don't know how long you went to school there, but we
are glad to claim you. I've been living in FL for about 12 years now,
but am returning home for a visit and to attend the reunion. (Should be
interesting.) I own a business but have always wanted to try
writing...and have a novel in my desk at home gathering dust. Do you
have any advice for me about writing or getting published? (Sorry for
the question you probably get all the time.) Wishing you continued
Hi Lara, Did you know that the great writer Barry Hannah was also a
Clinton Arrow? Try following in those footsteps sometime! Yes, I went
there from *mumble* to nineteen *cough cough* ... you'll be very
interested in reading ONE MISSISSIPPI, I predict, although it is about
a fictional high school somewhere in middle Mississippi, not about CHS.
As to advice: read Flannery O'Connor's MYSTERY AND MANNERS and Anne
Lamott's BIRD BY BIRD and John Gardner's ON BECOMING A NOVELIST and you
will know everything I know, and more. Also: it's like how you get to
Carnegie Hall. P - r - a - c - t - i - c - e ... get that book out of
the drawer and rewrite it twelve times, and you'll be on your way! Best
of luck. Cheers, Mark C.
Hi Mark, I think I met you many, many years ago. Somehow, I think this
was through a fellow named Brad Bailey...but, it's been so long ago!
Anyway, I'm thinking Billy Carter ought to be played by... Phillip
Well hi, whoever you are. Great idea, and if you know Phillip, by all means tell him to call me! Cheers, Mark C.
Magicmardi here. Just got back from NOLA. I had a wonderful time,
however quite different. It was great to visit my friends at Lafittes
and elsewhere. But it is all so sad. From the flabbergasted looks on
the bartenders and wait-staff when I told them I was there on vacation
and not working for FEMA or some insurance company or......to the
evenings in the Quarter that are just as quiet as the mornings.
Beautiful still but quite strange. I could go on and on about the help
that New Orleans needs and is not getting, but most of all I'd like to
tell everyone out there that she needs tourists. Not only for their
economy (so true!) but for their hearts. We were treated like royalty
because a tourist is rarely seen right now. So, peeps, go visit New
Orleans....the music is still great, the food is still awesome, and the
whole city needs you.
Hi Mardi, Thanks for the report! Sounds like you managed to have a
blast. I second your opinion about helping New Orleans while having
fun. I'm doing my part, headed down for the best Mardi Gras ever in a
few short weeks. Hope to see you there. Cheers, Mark C.
Just read the previous post...for the record, I thought 'Gone for Good'
was great! Oh, well, each to their own, I guess. Well, I'm off to NOLA
tomorrow. Turns out I will be there for Pardi Gras (3 day celebration
sponsored by Margaritaville, Tropical Isle and Corona!) AS for the rest
of the time, Wish me luck, I'll report back when I return after Jan.
19. Thanks again for all the kind words. Magicmardi
Hey, We'll look forward to your report. Cheers, Mark C.
Got a bit of a thing for great writing be it a book or a song. Although
I can't place "Gone for Good" at the top of my pops, ("Tender" is more
my type) a friend threw this song on a mix she gave me and it reminded
me of your story: Leo's is the bar up in heaven Where all the martyrs
hang out Gandhi staggers in with John Lennon They'll start a bar fight,
no doubt Chorus When you lead, we follow When you bleed, oh the masses
feel your pain Plant your seed, setting sunflowers Growing inside our
brains... Now Jesus don't need no introduction He's got a famous old
man And a party for twelve, I see Cobain, He's well He's in the Angels
that Fell, A local touring bar band. Chorus JFK, Joan of Arc Sit in the
corner, kissing in the dark Marilyn Monroe, Jacques Cousteau Talk about
the sharks they used to know... -Ellis Paul I can't link and audio file
but if the lyrics do it for you at all, this guy is a fantastic
songwriter and really is worth checking out.
PS...Um, I didn't count on my post being mushed into one long run on
sentance, try to imagine the song a bit more spread out... : )
Hey! Thanks for sending me the song. Somebody also said "Gone for Good"
is similar in concept to an old short story called "Conqueror's Isle,"
which I haven't been able to find for comparison. Sorry the
website-builder doesn't support proper display of the lyrics. Cheers,
Hi Mark! Its me again, Magicmardi. So glad to hear that Lafitte's is
fine. Wish the whole city was doing as well. Well, although I have had
my disaster training, it doesn't seem as if the Red Cross chapter in
Sacramento is sending any volunteers. I will stay on active list,
hoping to help. The good news is that I re-booked my flight and will be
coming to the French Quarter on Jan. 12 (a late New Year's?). I know I
will probably cry for a couple of days when I get there, but then my
intention is to dish out hugs and smiles to everyone I come in contact
with. I have done some online research and many of my favorite 'haunts'
are either already open or will be by the time I get there. New
Orleans, God Bless you and yours and I can't wait to get back to you!
Thanks, Mark, for keeping me informed.
PS ... Just read your essay "Do You Know What it Means to Miss New
Orleans". You hit the perverbial nail right on the head. I printed it
(hope you don't mind) and I have posted it in my office at work. People
who haven't spent time in NOLA just have no idea. -magicmardi
Hi Magicmardi, I'm glad you enjoyed the essay. If you want my take on
N.O. post-storm, check out the Salon essay (linked from the main page).
I know you'll do the folks down there some good, with your love of the
city. We'll be looking forward to your report. Cheers, Mark C.
Hi Mark from Magicmardi. Just read your "Salon" essay. You are such a
great writer, it was as if I was right beside youl I have been to most
of the places you mentioned. I am truly prepared for the worst. My
heart will break but I promise I will keep smiling, no matter what. The
only time I am going to quit smiling is when I am listening. Thanks
again, Mark, and I will write again when I get home from NOLA late in
January. Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving and a Happy Holiday season.
hi mark i am a german boy and i have to make a presentation at school
about you because we read your book "crazy in alabama". my problem:
there are some single notes in the internet, f. ex. when you were born
and where you lived, but i cannot find anything about your personality
and your opinions and so on. if you know a website where i could find
those things, it would be nice if you could send me the adress. thanks
Sorry you have been assigned such an obscure subject. There are some
essays on this site that might give you some idea as to my opinions and
personality. But way back in the mists of time, before there was an
Internet, there were libraries -- Germany has great libraries. In the
library there's a set of books called "Reader's Guide to Periodical
Literature," and if you look under my name you'll find every
article/interview that has ever been written about me. I hope that was
some help, and good luck with your project! cheers, Mark C.
Hi, Mark, from your old classmate from high school and from jr. high
piano lessons, Erin O'B. Can't wait to read One Mississippi. Will there
be any obvious portrayals of CHS friends or "incidents"? Hope so.
Living in the Midwest, having to make my own cheese grits and turnip
Hey Erin! Wow, long time no see, huh? Really great of you to write in,
and I hope everything's going well. I was hoping there might be a
reunion this year, since I missed all the others. Oh well.... As to
"One Miss." I know you will recognize the place, and maybe one or two
of the teachers...but the story is fiction and I've put imaginary
students in the starring roles. (Of course that won't stop everybody
from speculating, I know -- just like we did back in high school!) I
hope our paths will cross soon, and that you are finding all the grits
and greens you need up there in the chilly Nawth Land. All best, Mark C.
Hey Mark, I met you back in 1991 at Vela BAr when you were approving
your cover for Crazy In Alabama. You were sitting at the bar and were
writing on your lap top. YOu told me you were a writer and I said "so
is everyone else". To prove yourself to me, the next day you had a
Fedexed copy of the cover, I finally believed you!! I've read
everything you've written except for teh children't stuff. Would an
almost 6 year old enjoy the children stuff? suzanne in vermont
Mr. Childress-- I'm contacting you on behalf of the esteemed Mallet
Assembly. I'm currently trying to schedule a weekend for MalletCon and
we would really like it if you could come. If you're interested in
participating and have a day or two free, have any questions, or if you
aren't able to make it this year, please e-mail me at
firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll try to work something out. Thanks.
Hey Patrick, Will do. I'm always happy to be in Tuscaloosa. And there's
NOTHING on earth more esteemed than the Mallet Assembly! Roll Tide --
Hey Mark, I can't tell you how wonderful it was to see my hats for
Fleur de Paris mentioned in your New York Times essay on Sept. 4th (and
of course, in the film of Crazy in Alabama). I think that article was
the only thing I had to smile about the whole week. We did survive the
hurricane but feel like we are almost starting from scratch as far as
making business happen. I did finally bring myself to make a website
for the shop: http://www.fleurdeparis.net It's gonna be a tough fall
and winter but we will prevail and no one will have to miss us too much!
Hey Nicole, So delighted that you were able to find one smile in that
awful week. I hope everybody will go check out your website and see
what a great hat shop is all about. I know you guys will not have it
easy, putting everything back together, but it will definitely be a
happy day when ladies are trying on hats in Fleur de Paris again. I
know you'll prevail AND endure. All best, Mark C.
hi mark. we love your house and we love your tribute: why i miss new
orleans which appeared in NYTimes. much to tell you. your creole
cottage survived, passion flower deflowered in courtyard but ah
blooming again. lost chimney top on slave quarter. with so many
homeless from katrina, we decided to rent both to flooded victims for
less $$$. in this way we could help. be our guest for new year's. happy
to give you a key to the joint. best, jon + john
Hey guys, Will you please send me an email address? (Click the email me
button to the right...) Have so wanted to talk to you, don't have the
paper with your phone and emails...so great of you to give some folks
places to live. I had a feeling about that chimney top, actually feared
for the whole chimney. New Year's sounds great ... will wait for yr
email. xoxox Mark
Hi! Its me, magicmardi, again. Just got an email from Southwest and
they have cancelled my New Years airline ticket. I am heartbroken. So I
guess I have decided that my Plan B will be to try to talk The Red
Cross into giving me a December deployment to Louisiana (anywhere I can
help), and then maybe I can talk my way into a ride to the Quarter for
New Years. Wish me luck, but like I said before, I will be celebrating
New Years with New Orleans for sure, now I just have to figure out how.
Hope things are going a little better for those people you know who are
having a tough time due to that bitch, Katrina. Laissez les bon temps
Hey Magicmardi, I think several airlines are now operating into New
Orleans. Or I bet you could rebook your ticket on Southwest. All is not
lost. I hear that parts of New Orleans are springing to life even now.
I'm headed down this week to see if I can be of any help to any of my
friends there. Rock on, Mark C.
Just an additional note: I've been to New Orleans. The place is in bad
shape, but Magicmardi will be happy to know that Lafitte's came through
just fine. More to come. Mark C.
Hello Mark. My name is also Mark Childress, which explains this note.
After several years of patiently explaining to friends that, "No, I'm
not Mark Childress the author" and to relatives, "No, I'm not secretly
writing books and screenplays" I came across your website and thought
I'd drop a line. I have read two of your novels and I think they're
very well done. Please keep up the good work as it reflects well on our
names. By the way, I am a Police Lieutenant with the Colorado State
University Police in Ft. Collins, Colorado. I'm almost one year older
than you (read the bio)and have been a cop for 27 years, most of that
time in Investigations/Crimes against Persons. My wife and I enjoyed
'Crazy in Alabama,' and were wondering if you have any plans to dabble
in directing a movie? Also, thanks for your efforts with the New
Orleans hurricane relief. Several of my officers went there to help
with ongoing clean-up and their stories and images are incredible.
Howdy Mark, He said redundantly. Nice to
hear from you, and thanks for keeping up the Law Enforcement
credentials of those bearing our fine name. I promise to stay out of
your line of work, but I bet you do have some stories you could tell.
Anyway I'm glad you guys enjoyed the film of Crazy and the books... no
one has asked me to direct a movie, but I would love to try it
sometime. And it's great that your friends headed down to help New
Orleans come back. Thank them for me, okay? Cheers, Mark C. (the other
Hi Mark! I sincerely hope you and yours survived Katrina in good shape.
I wrote you sometime back (magicmardi- remember me?) and asked about
the Disney-ized LaFitte's, having visited many times and had been
stunned by the renovation. I am sorry but you are the only person I can
think of to ask this of. How did LaFitte's make it through Katrina?
Please tell me good news! I had already purchased my tickets for
another New Years Bash in New Orleans (my 10th visit) and I plan on
being there, come hell AND high water! In the meantime, say hello to
Joe at LaFitte's and tell him that Mardi from Sacramento will see him
and the rest of the lovely LaFitte's staff soon!
Hey Magicmardi, I am not in New Orleans now but everything I've heard
says damage in the Quarter was relatively light. The big disaster is in
the rest of the city, from East New Orleans through Mid-City, downtown,
and Metairie. Everyone I know got out alive, except for two people
we're still waiting to hear from. Hoping to get down there soon to
help. My friends and family have had their homes damaged to varying
degrees. Good for you going for New Year's .... I just made my
reservations for Mardi Gras. I think it'll be the best ever, and I
think I can help bring New Orleans back to life by attending. I urge
everyone to do the same. Cheers, Mark C.
Hi again! I also just found out that I will be in Louisiana the entire
month of either November or December (not sure yet) with the Red Cross.
I encourage everyone to do that, too! God Bless New Orleans!
Hey Magicmardi, And bless you too. If New Orleans has enough friends
like you, she will yet bloom from the toxic mud. Keep us posted.
Cheers, Mark C.
Hi Mark, When do you think you next book will be out? I sure am looking forword to it. C.D.
Hi C.D., Thanks for writing in! ONE MISSISSIPPI will be published by
Little, Brown in July 2006 (of course that is still subject to change).
Check out the link to the left for more info, and stay tuned! Cheers,
Mr.Mark, I was wondering the main 5's. Who, What, When, Where, and How, about your writing. Cheryl from Beat 14.
Hi Cheryl, Who is me, what is fiction, when is now, where is wherever I
am, and how is how could I not? Good luck. Cheers, Mark C.
Hello and Guten Tag, Mark, great to hear that your new book will
finally come next. i am looking forward. will it also be published in
germany at the same time? i hope so. take care, peter (hamburg/germany)
Hi Peter, Thanks for writing in again! Sorry it has taken me so long,
but I wanted to get this book just right. I'm not sure exactly when
Goldmann will publish in Germany, but as soon as I know, I will post
that news here. Stay tuned and keep reading! cheers, Mark C.
Hi Mark, When I went to see Crazy In Alabama, it wasn't long after my
divorce, and I was not sure i had not met you, because i "was" Lucille
- LOL. I and any supressed woman could have identified with her, and it
did me so much good to know that someone besides myself could put a
comic twist on such situations. I have enjoyed everything of yours that
I have read, and shared them with friends and look forward to seeing
your name being known, equal to your talents. Inez Williams
Hi Inez, Thanks for writing in! I hope you didn't take the drastic
measures that Lucille preferred - or if you did, I hope everything is
comfortable on the cellblock! I appreciate your reading and writing in,
and say hey to my cousin when you see her. Cheers, Mark C.
Just wanted to say hey, from a friend in Slapout.
Hi, Mark - I looked you up through a Google for "Alabama Authors".
Wasn't too impressed with Rick Bragg's headlines:) I saw Crazy...good
movie, didn't read the book. I need some advice, guidance, or just a
point in the right direction. How does a person from B.F.E. Alabama
become an author? (Not meant as an insult, meant as common ground - I'm
from Anniston.) My PC communication differs from writing
style/abilities so don't let it cast any shadows. Though no one could
be as great, my style is more Mark Twain-ish than anything. Do people
still want to publish that stuff? My Grandfather is 77 and has 70 years
worth of stories to tell (he can't remember the last 7). It might be
selfish but it's a true motivator... I love him and I want him to live
forever. Thanks in advance for any response - KB Anniston
Hi KB, Thanks for writing in. To answer your question, how does a
person from BFE Alabama (actually I'm from the greater metropolitan
Monroeville metroplex) become an author -- the best answer I can give
you is read, read, read. (Don't just see the movies -- hint, hint.)
Then write, write, write. As to style, if you keep writing and
practicing writing, eventually your style will stop being like other
writers and become more like your own. Obviously you know to listen
carefully to your grandfather's stories. Best of luck to you. Cheers,
Hola Mark, Thanks for your memoir on coming to Costa Rica. I'm on my
way to Manuel Antonio for the week of June 19-26 and wondered if you
know of an open reading around there. Spanish or English is okay with
me. If you're around that week, would you like to meet for drinks some
afternoon at Barba Roja? Despacio, Brandon Cesmat
Hola Brandon, Thanks for your note. Lucky you, getting to go to Manuel
Antonio. I could definitely use a dose of Playa Espadilla right about
now. Sadly enough, though, I left M.A. in 2000 so I won't be around to
have that drink. Stop into Karola's and till Billy that Mark said hey.
As far as an open reading, I never heard of any readings at all in
Costa Rica. It's a wonderful country, but an active literary scene is
not something I ever found there. Let me know how your visit went!
Cheers, Mark C.
Okaye Mark -- I wrote you a while back asking when One Miss. will be
out! I got busy, didn't think about it again for months..well,
yesterday, after having a crappy week I went to the store to find out
if One Mississippi was out...I looked but never found it. Soo, I
visited your site again tonight to find out it will be published in
2006! Anyway, reading one of your books sure makes the days better. I
guess I'll have to wait another crappy year until I get to read it! ha,
ha. Thanks for reading my crappy letter! Kaye.
Hi Kaye, Well, while you got busy and forgot about One Mississippi,
I've been sitting home going type, type, type. Sorry that it takes me
so long to write a book, and sorry it'll take Little, Brown about
another year to make it into a book, but I'm certainly hoping that 1/
you like it when it comes out, and think it was worth the wait, and 2/
you don't really have a crappy year while you wait! Thanks so much for
writing in! If you sign up for the newsletter (see Essays page) I'll
notify you when I have a precise publication date. Cheers, Mark
Hey Marc. I'm Patrick from Germany... I've read your book "Crazy in
Alabama" in school. And it is fantastic,really! Yesterday I bought your
book "Heartbreak Hotel". So I hope that is so nice like the last. All
Hi Patrick! Thanks for writing to me. I'm sorry your teacher made you
read "Crazy" but I'm glad you enjoyed it, and I hope you like
"Heartbreak Hotel" too. In the USA I had to change Elvis's name to
Leroy, so I'm glad you get to read the uncensored version! Take care.
Cheers, Mark C.
Hi, I read and admired Crazy in Alabama. I liked its sense of comedy. I
also write comic fiction, somewhat similiar to yours. Is your agent
open to new writers? Best, Aaron Stypes, email: email@example.com
Dear Aaron, Thanks for the compliment, and also great for you writing
comic fiction! God help you if it's similar to mine, though.... (that's
a joke). Anyway, sorry but my agent says he's not taking on any new
clients at the moment. But check out the "Writer's Market" where you'll
find a comprehensive list of all agents who will look at unsolicited
manuscripts. Thanks for reading and writing in, and best of luck with
your own work. Cheers, Mark C.
BULLIS: Knowledge, seeking its own identity, has no practical
application for society! I am eagerly awaiting Uno Miss. My numero uno
barrin will be 21 soon. We are getting old. Mudlark
Dear Mr. Mudlark, The Pope is old. (Was. And will be again.) Your
bairns may be old, but you and I, we're young. I thank you for your
eager awaitage, the wisdom of your prior observation, and the cunningly
effective cylindrical form of your poultry. The red phone is on the
box. Email when you can. Mark C. Bullis
Hi Mark, on a lark I put your name in Google, and here you are. Michael
R. Patterson, you may remember me from the 8th grade spelling bee, or
from band or High School, in Clinton, MS. Cecilia told me you were a
writer. You seem to be doing well. Congratulations. I wish you well.
Hey Mike, Great to hear from you! The spelling bee takes me way way
back. It looks like I'll be back in the Jackson area this fall to speak
at Millsaps ... if you're still in the area maybe I can see you then.
Thanks for good wishes, too. Cheers, Mark C.
Mike P. here. I was in NYC on 9/11 also, I was on a plane that made it
out before it all happened. MS casts its talented children to the four
winds, I guess you're in CA. I saw Mr. Cohen last April, he loves city
maps. Clinton has changed a lot. 1990 Band Reunion was good for me, I
saw all the changes in people. I got one of your books in a bookstore,
you turn out good stuff. I live in the Northeast now. My kid is
studying in Europe, I swear it was just yesterday she was born. I'm
married to a European woman now, she's very nice. I write also, well
nowhere near your level of course. I did a rhyming translation of Lao
Tsu's Tao Te Ching, for fun, and hand-bound it. I've done storytelling
in schools. I still play the trombone, in community bands, for fun. I
wish you well.
Hi Mike, Thanks for the update on your life. What an interesting time
of it you've been having ... that is so cool about your translation, I
must say I never envisioned any CHS being able to translate the Tao Te
Ching! I heard about the 90 band reunion too late, but I keep hoping
they'll have another reunion so I can go. Thanks again for writing in
and I hope our paths cross sooner rather than later. Cheers, Mark C.
Hi Mr. Childress, I grew up in Monroeville, Alabama (actually Excel,
Alabama) and became a very big fan of yours during the time when "Crazy
in Alabama" became a movie. I was wondering if you had any signed
copies of the book available in Pensacola, Florida? If so, where would
I find them. Thanks, Michael Bodiford firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi Michael, Always nice to get a howdy from a fellow Monroe Countian.
I've had friends who live in Frisco City and also in Mexia, so I know
that is some fine flat country down there. Thanks for enjoying my
books. Authors don't really track the sale of used books ... possibly
because authors don't receive royalties on used books! Signed copies
are available online through abebooks.com and alibris.com but those are
being resold by people to whom they were signed, and the author will
come back to haunt all those who are trying to take a markup on my
chicken-scratching. Cheers, Mark C.
Hi Mark, I will make this quick. I LOVE your writing, read everything
of yours I could get my hands on - when, oh when, will we be seeing
another book? Fan For Years, Charlie
Hey Charlie, May I take this opportunity to thank you for your
excellent taste in fiction? Thanks! I know you think I've been lying
around napping for years, but I've really been working hard on the new
book. ONE MISSISSIPPI will be published in 2006 ... keep an eye on this
page for an official announcement soon! And thanks for your patience.
Cheers, Mark C.
So I usually reserve my musings for late-night hacking on the word
processor, but Goat's posting about the Monroeville writer's bench got
me a little worried. See, I'm from Monroeville. And I'm a frustrated
storyteller who is currently biding time in newspaper journalism until
I figure out a way to do what you did. Hopefully they'll save room on
that bench until I do. Keep up the good work. You make us proud. -
Dear Rachel, Hey thank you for writing in. Great to hear from a
hometown gal. Listen, there is PLENTY of room left around that
fountain, there's a spot there that is just right for your name. Just
keep a'goin. I'll bet you're not only "biding time" in journalism but
learning something new about writing every day. I often tell writing
students that newspaper or magazine work is some of the best training
you can have, because you learn to write on demand ... not just when
inspiration moves you! Anyway, just keep writing and we'll keep a spot
cleared off for you. Best of luck! Mark C.
Hello, Mr. Childress! I hail from Montgomery but am currently in school
at Oberlin, OH. I'm actually teaching an experimental college class
(one of many, but still) on an introduction to Southern life, history,
wildlife, heritage, literature, etc., to represent the region. I
decided to use "Crazy" as the main required reading. When I ordered
copies, I was saddened to hear that the publisher had listed it as OSI!
However, I did get my mitts on enough copies (used) for the whole class
(huzzah!). Also, when an Elvis-influenced show came through the ASF
last year, I got a chance to hang out with the actors and recommended
"Tender" - they hadn't heard of it and were excited to find out about
the book. :o) Please keep writing, and thank you for creating such
hilarious and memorable works! Beau M.
Hi Beau, Thanks a whole lot for assigning "Crazy" to your students. I'm
flattered you would think people could learn something from it. I don't
know who told you "Crazy" is out of stock, but it's very much alive,
well, and in print in the Ballantine trade paperback and mass-market
editions. You can order as many (new!) copies as you like from Amazon
... and if you use the link on the site, I get a tiny percentage from
each sale to support my webpage. Anyway, a note to other readers: all
of my books are in print and orderable (except the "Joshua" books for
kids), although "A World Made of Fire" trade paperback may occasionally
go out of stock. If anyone in a bookstore tells you one of my books is
out of print, they're wrong. (I think they say this sometimes because
they're too lazy to order the book.) It could be that the store's
distributor is out of stock, but they can always order more. Also,
Amazon or bn.com always have my books in stock. Thanks! Mark C.
Hi Mark, i loved to read all your books. are you working on a new one? Peter (from germany)
Hi Peter, Thanks for the kind words. Yes, I am finishing up work on my
new novel ONE MISSISSIPPI. Once again my great friends at GOLDMANN will
be publishing in Germany. Watch this website; I should have an
announcement soon about plans for publication in the U.S. Cheers, Mark
Thanks a lot. Looking forward to the new novel. Peter
I just finished Tender. That book was so moving. I am suggesting it to
all of my friends and family. Can't wait to start Gone For Good. You
are a fantastic author--Adam C. Center Point, AL
Hey Adam, Thanks so much for reading my book, for writing in to me, and
especially for being my special ambassador to the good people of Center
Point. Hope you enjoy G4G -- write in and let me know how it went!
Cheers, Mark C.
Hey Mark, death is a running theme in "Crazy in Alabama" and I was
wanting to know why you chose that and how you think it ties in with
the other major themes in the book? Cody W. Arab Al
Hey Cody, Nice to hear from Sand Mountain. I can tell you that a major
theme in "Crazy" is duality and opposites ... life and its opposite,
black and its opposite ... but then I will refer you to my answer to
Romekia below. Note to all students: It's not considered "research" if
you write directly to the author of a book and ask him to delineate his
themes for your paper. That's your job! Now Cody, if I'm wrong,
convince me. Cheers and keep reading, Mark C.
Hi Mark! I was in NOLA for New Years. I had always started and stopped
my days (and nights)at Lafitte's and wow, was I disappointed to see the
'redo'. What were they thinking? Now its Disneyland Lafittes. Yuk! When
did this happen? And why did it happen? Mardi, from Sacramento
Hi Mardi, Yeah, I know, they have kinda Disneyized the place, huh? Glad
we preserved it in all its falling-down glory in the movie of "Crazy."
I'm acquainted with the owners of the place and I will bet you money
they were forced to do that by building/ business/ safety codes, which
are pretty strict here in the Quarter, believe it or not. I think we
can count on the inevitable rot-decay-mold factor to make the place
look grotty and perilous again in a few short years. Cheers, Mark C.
Dear Mr. Childress, My English III teacher as giving her students an
RESEARCH PROJECT! The good part is that the book must be made into a
movie and must be fiction. The bad part is we have to write a
documented research paper and prepare a Power Point presentation on the
author. You may be asking yourself what does this have to do with me.
Alot because the novel i picked is Crazy in Alabama. I like the movie.
now i just have to read the book. Well back to my question would you
mind e-mailing me anything that will help me research you? Anthing
about your work and career and your Impact on American Literature and
Society? Those few things would be a blessing but if you can i will
understand. Thanks for your time. Romekia
Dear Romekia, Thanks for choosing my book and good luck with your
paper. I already made this whole website just to help you with your
paper. Your teacher told me you might try to look for outside help, and
asked me not to provide it. (In the interest of your doing your own
work.) So both of us would get in trouble if I did. Write me back and
let me know how it went! Cheers, Mark C.