Mark Wiederanders is a psychologist who studied state programs for violent youth and the criminally insane in Sacramento. He now writes historical fiction about the personal lives of famous writers. Actual letters and other artifacts became the basis for novels about the ordinary, the scandalous, and the sublime details of their daily lives that, purposefully or accidentally, made them famous. To date, these figures include Robert Louis Stevenson, Jack London, and William Shakespeare.
A native of San Francisco who moved to southern California at age five, Mark still remembers the haunting sound of foghorns that drifted across the bay all night long. Maybe these memories percolated interest in Robert Louis Stevenson and Jack London, authors who wrote their memories of foghorns over a century ago, because these authors became main characters of two novels. Mark grew up playing baseball, football, competitive swimming, tennis, and drawing animated flip-books. At ten, he won an essay contest about who should be "Father of the Year" for a Monterey Park, California newspaper. The prize: a $25 US Savings Bond for Mark, and a gold Bulova watch for his dad. Although Mark felt bummed that the bond took ten years to reach full value whereas his dad got an expensive watch, he'd caught the writing-bug. Although he didn't realize it at the time, the mixed feelings about the award provided the context - complicated family dynamics - for all of his later fiction.
He majored in psychology at California Lutheran University and then earned a Ph.D in psychology from the University of Colorado. Settling with his wife and young family in Sacramento, Mark began a career as a research psychologist who studied delinquents, violent offenders, and the criminally insane. At nights he began writing fiction as a break from the dire situations of his work clientele. With his youngest daughter, Annie, at the time a 4th-grader, he co-wrote a children's story, The Dinosaur Egg, that placed First in a Friends of the Library Competition. A few years later, his screenplay about William Shakespeare's family life, "Taming Judith," reached the finals of the Academy of Motion Pictures' Nichol Fellowship competition. The script was optioned by a film company and "almost" produced - several times!
His fiction began to focus on meticulously researched novels about the private lives of classic writers. Besides the screenplay about Shakespeare, his first novel (2014, Fireship Press) featured Robert Louis Stevenson, and he has a work-in-progress about Jack London. An early draft of Stevenson’s Treasure placed in the Short List for Finalists in the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society’s Novel-in-Progress competition, and in 2016 the published novel was named a finalist in the Eric Hoffer Book Awards.
He is an alumnus of the Squaw Valley Workshops, was a scholar at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, and earned residencies at the Vermont Studio Center, the New York Mills Cultural Center, and the Martha's Vineyard Writers' Residency. As his writing career picked up steam, he joined the Historical Novel Society, the California Writers Club, and the Authors' Guild.
In 2018, Mark's writing stopped for a long while - writing became impossible - when his daughter Annie was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. After a brave battle, she passed away in August of that year. Views of life, what things are most important, and the fleeting nature of our time on earth changed during this time of profound grief.
But life moves forward. Slowly there is re-emergence. Writing became possible, even welcome again, especially with encouragement from wife Esta, daughter Sarah, son John, and four grandchildren who live their own fascinating lives in Northern California.