Childress is the son of Roy and Helen Childress. The family moved around for several years before resettling in Clinton, Mississippi where he completed high school. He started at LSU, but transferred in 1975 to the University of Alabama.
After graduating in 1978, Childress was a reporter for The Birmingham News, Features Editor of Southern Living, and Regional Editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. His articles and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The (London) Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Saturday Review, Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, Travel and Leisure, and other national and international publications.
Childress' first novel A World Made of Fire was released by Knopf in 1984. It was followed four years later by V for Victor, and then, in 1990 by Tender, which became a Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club selection and appeared on several "Ten Best of 1990" lists, earning a place on several bestseller lists that year.
His next novel, Crazy in Alabama, was also a featured selection of the Literary Guild, has been published in the U.S., Great Britain, Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Russia, Holland, Denmark, and Poland, and appeared on many bestseller lists and Ten Best of 1993 lists. It was named The (London) Spectator’s “Book of the Year” for 1993 and a New York Times “Notable Book of the Year,” and was on the Der Spiegel bestseller list in Germany for 10 months. He wrote the screenplay for the 1999 Columbia Pictures film "Crazy in Alabama," which was directed by Antonio Banderas, and starred Melanie Griffith. The film was an official selection of the Venice and San Sebastian film festivals in 1999.
Childress has also written three picture books for children: "Joshua and Bigtooth", "Joshua and the Big Bad Blue Crabs," and "Henry Bobbity Is Missing And It Is All Billy Bobbity’s Fault".
Childress has received the Thomas Wolfe Award, the University of Alabama’s Distinguished Alumni Award, and the Alabama Library Association’s Writer of the Year (1994).
- Childress, Mark (1984) "A World Made of Fire". Alfred A. Knopf.
- Childress, Mark (1988) "V For Victor". Alfred A. Knopf.
- Childress, Mark (1990) "Tender". Harmony.
- Childress, Mark (1992) "Joshua and Bigtooth". Little, Brown.
- Childress, Mark (1993) "Crazy in Alabama". Putnam.
- Childress, Mark (1996) "Joshua and the Big Bad Blue Crabs. Little, Brown
- Childress, Mark (1996) "Henry Bobbity Is Missing And It Is All Billy Bobbity’s Fault". Crane Hill.
- Childress, Mark (June 1998) Gone for Good". Alfred A. Knopf.
- Childress, Mark (July 2006) One Mississippi. Little, Brown.
- Childress, Mark (February 2011) Georgia Bottoms. Little, Brown.
- Carlton, Bob (March 12, 2011) "Alabama author back with 'Bottoms'." The Birmingham News