July 19, 2003 - Mercury News: After years of covering stories, Central African Republic RPCV Mark Sullivan Mark Sullivan creates them

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Central African Republic: Peace Corps Central African Republic : The Peace Corps in the Central African Republic: July 19, 2003 - Mercury News: After years of covering stories, Central African Republic RPCV Mark Sullivan Mark Sullivan creates them

By Admin1 (admin) on Sunday, July 20, 2003 - 9:36 am: Edit Post

After years of covering stories, Central African Republic RPCV Mark Sullivan Mark Sullivan creates them

After years of covering stories, Central African Republic RPCV Mark Sullivan Mark Sullivan creates them

After years of covering stories, he creates them

By Nora Villagrán

Mercury News

``I was excited and scared.''

It was 1992, and Mark T. Sullivan -- two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee for investigative reporting -- was leaving the world of daily journalism in San Diego for the one he'd always dreamed of: a career writing novels.

``I was bouncing off the end of a diving board, without knowing if there would be enough water in the pool.''

Now with five acclaimed thrillers behind him, this once-new world is familiar territory, and Sullivan, 45, moves through it with ease and gratitude.

An aikido black belt and rugged outdoorsman, he has just penned the scary, sensuous mystery ``The Serpent's Kiss.'' And his novels ``Labyrinth'' and ``The Purification Ceremony'' are being made into films.

On Sunday, Sullivan talks about his new book at San Jose's Santana Row. On Monday, he will be in San Mateo and San Francisco.

T. Jefferson Parker (``Cold Pursuit'') calls the book ``a wickedly good murder tale.''

Sullivan writes: ``The naked man on the bed was dying and he had no idea why. . . . Questions came to him like raindrops: What is my name? How did I get here? What is the fire that has replaced my blood?''

Another naked man is found dead, and San Diego detective Seamus Moynihan must catch a serial murderer obsessed with sex, snakes and salvation.

Throw in Moynihan's smart ex-wife, young son, looming middle-age and romantic temptations -- and you've got a protagonist worth sticking with. ``Seamus,'' says Sullivan, ``is always trying to do the right thing.''

This novel is the first in a series featuring the San Diego Police Department's five-person investigative homicide team. Next is ``The Assassin's Castle,'' which again thrusts Moynihan into diverse subcultures.

Sullivan's travels have taken him to different worlds, as well. He went from an Irish Catholic boyhood of reading, skiing and deer-tracking outside Boston to upstate New York's Hamilton College.

After two years in West Africa's Saharan culture as a Peace Corps volunteer, he entered Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, then went on to cover the Chicago commodities markets for Reuters and study aikido.

In 1986, his cultural-immersion style of investigative reporting at the San Diego Tribune led to Pulitzer Prize nominations. But behind his journalistic zeal, he wanted to invent stories. Create characters. Craft dialogue. And twist plots.

Sullivan began ``The Fall Line,'' taking a leave of absence in 1990 to immerse himself in the novel's extreme-skier culture. But it's hard to serve two masters, so he packed up his reporter's desk and chose fiction.

``I was giving myself no way out -- I'd either succeed or fail miserably. I think that was a good thing. I didn't want to take the chance that I wouldn't try.''

Sullivan, wife Betsy and baby boy Connor -- now 12 -- moved to a converted barn in Vermont. ``The Fall Line'' (1994) was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Then followed ``Hard News'' (1995), ``The Purification Ceremony'' (1997) and ``Ghost Dance'' (1999).

The Sullivan family -- with second son Bridger, now 8 -- then moved to Montana, where Sullivan wrote ``Labyrinth'' (2002) and began teaching aikido.

Life in Bozeman, Mont., now revolves around family, dogs, the great outdoors and writing. ``I'm a husband and father first and a writer second.''

Journalism, he says, was the perfect diving board. ``Journalism showed me how the world works. I don't think I'd be the sort of novelist I am had I not been a journalist. I wake up knowing I'm making my living as a novelist. This was my dream.''

Before writing, he hikes to a nearby mountaintop and says, `` `I don't know why you let this miracle happen -- but please let it keep going.' ''

For others with long-held dreams, Sullivan says, ``It can happen. It happened to me. I believed in the possibility and I chased it.''

Mark T. Sullivan

Book: ``The Serpent's Kiss'' (Atria Books, $25, pp. 384)

Readings: 4 p.m. Sunday; Borders Books, 356 Santana Row, San Jose; (408) 241-9100

Noon Monday; M is for Mystery Bookstore, 86 E. Third Ave., San Mateo; (650) 401-8077

5 p.m. Monday; San Francisco Mystery Bookstore, 4175 24th St., San Francisco; (415) 282-7444

More info: www.marktsullivan.com
Contact Nora Villagrán at nvillagran@mercurynews.com or (408) 920-5909.

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Story Source: Mercury News

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Central African Republic; Writing - Central African Republic



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