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Childress grew up in Ohio, Indiana, Mississippi, and Louisiana. He graduated from the University of Alabama, where he was a member of the Mallet Assembly. In 1978 Childress was a reporter for The Birmingham News, Features Editor of Southern Living magazine, and Regional Editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Articles and reviews by Childress have appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Times, San Francisco Chronicle, the Saturday Review, the Chicago Tribune, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Travel and Leisure, and other national and international publications.
Childress wrote the screenplay for the film Crazy in Alabama.
Crazy in Alabama was a featured selection of the Literary Guild appeared on many bestseller lists and Ten Best of 1993 lists. Crazy in Alabama was 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. The film Crazy in Alabama was an official selection of the Venice and San Sebastian film festivals in 1999.
One Mississippi was a summer reading selection of Good Morning America, O: The Oprah Magazine, People magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and the Wall Street Journal, and was nominated for the Southeastern Independent Booksellers Association's "Book of the Year" award. Stephen King named One Mississippi as #3 on his list of the "Ten Best Books of 2006" in Entertainment Weekly.
- A World Made of Fire
- V for Victor
- Crazy in Alabama
- Gone for Good
- One Mississippi
- Georgia Bottoms
- Childress, M. (1992). Joshua and Bigtooth. New York: Little, Brown and Company.
- Childress, M. & Brown, M. B. (1995). Joshua and the Big Bad Blue Crabs. New York: Little, Brown and Company.
- Childress, M. (1996). Henry Bobbity Is Missing And It Is All Billy Bobbity's Fault. Birmingham, AL: Crane Hill Publishers.
- Childress, M. (1990). Tender. New York: Harmony Books.
- Childress, M. (1993). Crazy in Alabama. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons.
- Childress, M. (2006). One Mississippi. New York: Little, Brown and Company.
- Childress, M. (1984). A World Made of Fire. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
- Childress, M. (1988). V for Victor. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
- Childress, M. (1998). Gone for Good. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
- Childress, M. (2011). Georgia Bottoms. New York: Little, Brown and Company.