Mark Illis


About Mark Illis

Mark IllisMark wrote a story called The Journey To The Wreck when he was 8. It was thirteen pages long, and he felt like he’d written The Lord of the Rings. His next big success was when he had some short stories published at university, and went on to do an MA in Creative Writing at UEA, where Malcolm Bradbury and Angela Carter were his tutors.

In his twenties Mark had three novels published by Bloomsbury, A CHINESE SUMMER, THE ALCHEMIST and THE FEATHER REPORT. In 1992 he moved to West Yorkshire to be a Centre Director for the Arvon Foundation, after which he started writing for TV. He has written for EastEnders, The Bill, Peak Practice and Jamie Johnson. He wrote for Emmerdale for over a decade. He also wrote the award-winning screenplay for Before Dawn, a relationship drama with zombies. He had a cameo in the finished film, as a zombie.

Mark’s fourth book, TENDER, was published in 2009, and his fifth, THE LAST WORD, (shortlisted for The Portico Prize) in 2011, both by Salt. 

Lately, Mark’s been writing for teenagers. THE IMPOSSIBLE, winner of a Northern Writers’ Award in 2015, was published by Quercus in 2017. It has been optioned for TV. The sequel THE IMPOSSIBLE: ON THE RUN came out in July 2018. His new book, RUNNING AWAY FOR BEGINNERS, comes out in March 2024.

Mark loves visiting schools, to give talks and readings and run workshops. See Contacts for how to arrange this. He’s also available for mentoring.

Mark has taught writing in schools, libraries, universities, Reading Prison and Broadmoor Secure Hospital, and has run workshops in Hong Kong and Norway. He has taught many Arvon courses, has given readings at festivals from Brighton to Edinburgh, Cheltenham to King's Lynn, and has reviewed for The Times Literary Supplement, The Spectator and Radio 4's Kaleidoscope. He’s currently working as a Royal Literary Fund Fellow. He’s married with two children and a cat and is still living in West Yorkshire. 

© Mark Illis