Mark Illis

Mark Illis


Mark Illis was born in London in 1963. He has written five novels for adults, most recently TENDER and THE LAST WORD (shortlisted for The Portico Prize), both published by Salt. He has also written three radio plays and has written for EastEnders, The Bill and Peak Practice. He wrote for Emmerdale for over a decade. He also wrote the award-winning screenplay for the film, Before Dawn, a relationship drama with zombies. In July 2017, his first Young Adult novel, THE IMPOSSIBLE, winner of a Northern Writers? Award in 2015, was published by Quercus. A sequel will be published in 2018. Mark has taught writing for Arvon, and in schools, libraries, universities, Reading Prison and Broadmoor Secure Hospital. He has recently been working for the charity First Story and for the Royal Literary Fund. He?s married with two children and lives in West Yorkshire.




Young Adult / Middle Grade


Publications & Performance History

A Chinese Summer (Bloomsbury 88) The Alchemist (Bloomsbury 90) The Feather Report (Bloomsbury 92) Tender (Salt 2009) The Last Word (Salt 2011) The Impossible (Quercus 2017) The Impossible – On The Run (Quercus 2018) Many short stories. Many episodes of Emmerdale, plus EastEnders, The Bill, Peak Practice Prize-winning screenplay for ‘Before Dawn’ Three radio plays.


Workshop & Reading Experience

I have been running workshops for the Arvon Foundation for schools and adults since 1990. I’ve also worked in schools, universities, libraries, prisons and Broadmoor secure hospital. I run enjoyable, stimulating and educative workshops.



“From the outset, Mark conveyed his passion for the creative writing process and demonstrated his incredible knowledge and experience at doing so. The range of activities that he provided for our students was immense and their love of writing as well as their creative writing abilities blossomed during this week. He is certainly one of the most motivational writers that I have ever come across in my 20 years of full time English teaching”. Dom Roy, Head of A Level English at Watford Grammar School for Boys.

“I was really impressed with Mark’s planning of the workshops – they were always well structured with the stimulus material being really interesting. Mark’s relationship with the students was always professional. He was able to inspire the students to produce some fantastic writing – and spent a lot of time discussing the writing process with the students – providing them with clear constructive feedback. Working with young people is always a bit of a challenge – but Mark was able to enthuse the students he worked with – who truly appreciated the end result.” Farhat Alam, English Teacher at University Academy Keighley

“Mark worked with students from my school, delivering exciting and engaging workshops to stimulate their creative writing. The students thoroughly enjoyed the sessions, particularly commenting on the use of a watch as a starting point for their writing. We loved working with Mark and hope to do so again soon”. Miss M Callow, English Teacher at Royal Masonic School for Girls, Herts


Group size preference

Up to around 20 is good for a workshop, unlimited numbers for a reading or talk. One to one for surgeries.


Group age preference

The Impossible and its sequel are aimed at 12 – 15 year olds, but I will happily run a writing workshop for any age.


Working languages



Area prepared to travel

I’m based in Hebden Bridge. I’m prepared to travel pretty much anywhere in your area.


Other information

I lost a leg to cancer when I was a teenager. I don’t wear a prosthesis, I use crutches, so I’m a good role model to students for what someone with a disability can do. I like to think I write as well with one leg as most writers do with two! (Don’t worry about access. Stairs are no problem. (Do worry about access, obviously, just not on my account.)