Keynote Speaker – Mark Sullivan2018-01-02T15:33:19-05:00

Mark Sullivan

Mark grew up outside of Boston and says the best job he’s ever had was selling souvenirs at Fenway Park during his high school summers. He attended Hamilton College, graduating in 1980 with a BA in English. Two weeks later, he boarded a plane bound for Niger, West Africa, where he worked as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Agades, an oasis and trading center on the ancient caravan route between Tripoli and Timbuctu. Mark rode with Tuareg nomads deep into the Sahara, immersed himself in their culture and taught their children English in a regional high school.

Upon Mark’s return to the United States in 1982, he attended the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He worked at Reuters, Ltd., as a financial correspondent covering the Chicago Commodities Markets from 1983-1984. He left to become a political reporter in Washington D.C., at a small wire service called States News Service where his role was backup reporter to the D.C. bureaus of the New York TimesNewsday and the New York Daily News. He also began to make a name for himself in the tough world of investigative reporting, breaking a series of stories about a financial scandal that almost toppled the nation’s mortgage brokerage business.

In 1986, Mark joined the San Diego Tribune as a full-time investigative reporter. Still profoundly influenced by the experience of total cultural immersion he had experienced in West Africa, he began to develop a journalistic style that focused on the cultures of the things he was investigating. His award-winning work included a series that examined the culture of children living with addicts, and another that drew back the curtain on the culture of corporate funeral home conglomerates.

As a young boy, Mark had been an avid reader who’d dreamed of becoming a novelist. At the age of 30, he panicked at the thought that he might not follow through on his childhood dream. So he began writing fiction in his little spare time and soon had short stories published in various literary journals.

In the winter of 1990, he took a leave from his investigative duties at the newspaper and moved to Utah and Wyoming to live among extreme skiers. That experience yielded his first novel, The Fall Line (1994), which was named a New York Times Notable Book of the year, a rare honor for a debut author.

The following year, he published Hard News (1995), a mystery that exposed the underbelly of modern newspapers. The book garnered widespread critical acclaim and has become something of a cult classic among journalists.

But it was not until 1996, with publication of The Purification Ceremony, that Mark’s career broke out. The novel, told in the voice of a woman who is an expert tracker, has been published and on bestseller’s lists all over the world. It was a finalist for the Edgar Allen Poe award for best novel, won the W.H. Smith Award for best “new talent” author, and was named one of the best books of the year by the Los Angeles Times. The Purification Ceremony has been translated into fourteen languages and optioned numerous times for film, though sadly it has not yet been made.

His subsequent novels have been optioned for film, translated into dozens of languages, and graced international bestseller lists. In 2011, Mark began working with legendary thriller author James Patterson. Since then they have written five #1 New York Times Bestsellers including Private Paris, Private L.A., and Private Berlin. Mark lives in southwest Montana with his wife, Betsy. He is an avid skier, sportsman, martial artist and devotee of Crossfit training.

“An incredible story, beautifully written, and a fine and noble book.”
     —James Patterson, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author

Beneath a Scarlet Sky has everything—heroism, courage, terror, true love, revenge, compassion in the face of the worst human evils. Mark Sullivan was born to write this novel based on the real story of Pino Lella, one of many unsung heroes of the Second World War. It’s gripping, shocking, heartbreaking and ultimately inspiring. Sullivan shows us war as it really is, with all its complexities, conflicting loyalties, and unresolved questions, but most of all, he brings us the extraordinary figure of Pino Lella, whose determination to live con smania—with passion—saved him.”
—Joseph Finder, 
New York Times bestselling author of Suspicion and The Switch

“Sprawling, stirring, like the richest of stories, and played out on a canvas of heroism and tragedy, Beneath a Scarlet Sky is like one of those iconic WWII black and white photos: a face of hope and tears, the story of a small life that ended up mattering in a big way.”
     —Andrew Gross, New York Times bestselling author of The One Man

“This is full-force Mark Sullivan—muscular, soulful prose evincing an artist’s touch and a journalist’s eye. Beneath a Scarlet Sky conjures an era with a magician’s ease, weaving a rich tapestry of a wartime epic. World War II Italy has never been more alive to me.”
     —Gregg Hurwitz, New York Times bestselling author of The Nowhere Man

“Action, adventure, love, war, and an epic hero —all set against the backdrop of one of history’s darkest moments—Mark Sullivan’s Beneath a Scarlet Sky has everything one can ask for in an exceptional World War II novel.”
     —Tess Gerritsen, New York Times bestselling author of Playing With Fire