Seven Questions With Mark Seal

By Troy Hooper
Real AspenJuly 12, 2010

Mark Seal is a contributing editor for Vanity Fair and co-author of more than 15 nonfiction books, including San Diego Chargers owner Alex Spanos's Sharing the Wealth, Bo Derek’s Riding Lessons, and Without a Badge: Undercover in the World's Deadliest Criminal Organization, covering N.Y.P.D. drug cop Jerry Speziale's infiltration of the California cocaine cartels, soon to be a major motion picture. Since he signed on with Vanity Fair in 2003, Seal has produced some of the magazine's most provocative journalism. His most recent Vanity Fair head-turner, “The Temptation of Tiger Woods,” explores the superstar golfer's secret sexual world. Other memorable Seal articles include the alleged love triangle behind the David Letterman extortion plot, the Bernie Madoff scam and its effects on Aspen, and the troubled times of Fiat heir Lapo Elkann. He also collaborated with the late Hunter S. Thompson on a Vanity Fair article that helped set in motion the freeing from prison of a young Denver woman, Lisl Auman. With more than 30 years of journalism experience under his belt, Seal has written for a variety of publications that include Esquire, Playboy, Rolling Stone, Condé Nast Traveler, Golf Digest, Texas Monthly, InStyle, Town & Country, Time, and The New York Times.

Mark Seal

Q. How did you achieve writing success?

A. Started out struggling straight out of college, first job as a general assignments reporter for an Austin newspaper, then night police (10 p.m. to 6 a.m.) in Houston, finally found work at a magazine followed by freelance magazine work and collaborating on nonfiction books, before writing a book of my own (Wildflower, about the amazing life and mysterious murder of Kenyan naturalist Joan Root) . . . It's been a lifetime of work that never seems like work, which I think is the key.

Q. Who's more fun: Bo Derek or Hunter S. Thompson?

A. Both equally for their own reasons ...

Q. Which book you've written posed the greatest challenge?

A. Every one: it always seems so easy at the outset -— usually in the discussion stage — then the harsh reality of the difficulties sets in ...

Q. What projects are you working on right now?

A. A nonfiction book involving mystery, drama and suspense.

Q. Why do you choose to live in Aspen?

A. Came here in 1992 and, like everyone else who comes here, fell in love with the place.

Q. What's your favorite place in Aspen?

A. The hike past the East Maroon Bells Portal in the fall when everything is golden.

Q. What advice can you impart to readers looking to advance their own careers?

A. Perseverance!

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