The Mark Childress page                     
Past Conversations 2













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!

Hi - 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 fryfogle@hotmail.com

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.

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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 Conference Committee

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.

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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.

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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.

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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 C.

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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, Mark C.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 muncie bates

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.

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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 read.

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.

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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 temps rouler!!!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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 at lynlejeune@cox.net.

Hey Lyn, Thanks for writing in. Best of luck with both your fundraising and your novel. Cheers, Mark C.

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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 not intentionally.

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.

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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.

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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 C.

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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.

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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 http://www.southerner.net/

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.

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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.

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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, Mark C.

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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.

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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.

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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.


HALFWAY
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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 Mississippi"!!!!

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.

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HEY JUST WONTED 2 SAY HEY 2 MY FRIENDS DOWN IN SANTA FE SCHOOLS

Somebody wandered in from myspace.com !!!!

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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.

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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.

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lovin it

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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.

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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.

  1. When writing Crazy in Alabama did Huckleberry Finn influence you? If yes, then how?
  2. Do you feel there is any relationship between Huck Finn and Peejoe?
  3. Why have you chosen to depict Peejoe, arguably the character most concerned with social responsibility as being fascinated by death?
  4. 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 Shoals, Alabama.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 success, Lara.

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.

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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 Seymour Hoffman!

Well hi, whoever you are. Great idea, and if you know Phillip, by all means tell him to call me! Cheers, Mark C.

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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.

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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.

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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, Mark C.

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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.

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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 matthias

Hi Matthias,
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.

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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 greens!

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.

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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 wineg001@bama.ua.edu and we'll try to work something out. Thanks. --Patrick W.

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 -- Mark C.

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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.

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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

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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 rouler!

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. Regards, Mark

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 one)

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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.

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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, Mark C.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Just wanted to say hey, from a friend in Slapout.

Hey!

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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, Mark C.

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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.

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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

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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 best, Patrick

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.

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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: aaron3035@2xtreme.net

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.

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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

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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.

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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 rlube@juno.com

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.

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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.

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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. - Rachel

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.

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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.

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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 C.

Thanks a lot. Looking forward to the new novel. Peter

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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