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University of Iowa News Release


April 11, 2008

Writers' Workshop alumnus John Marks brings Purple State Roadshow to UI

University of Iowa Writers' Workshop alumnus John Marks, a novelist and former "60 Minutes" producer, and screenwriter/theologian Craig Detweiler will bring the Purple State Roadshow to the UI Monday and Tuesday, April 21 and 22.

Their visit will feature four free public events.

--At 1 p.m. Monday, Marks will give a talk on "Truth and Cash -- Realities of the Writing Life" in the Frank Conroy Reading Room of Dey House, the headquarters of the Writers' Workshop.

--At 7 p.m. Monday, Marks will read from his book "Reasons To Believe: One Man's Journey Among the Evangelicals and the Faith He Left Behind," which a Los Angeles Times review called "a work of courageous journalism as well as a memoir of startling self-reflection," in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. Listen live via the Writing University Web site at

This event will also be recorded for broadcast on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series, originating on UI radio station WSUI-AM 910. Hour-long Iowa Public Radio "Live from Prairie Lights" productions, hosted by Julie Englander, air at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturdays, and 7 p.m. Sundays on WSUI-AM 910 in Iowa City and WOI-AM 640 in Ames.

--At 10 a.m. Tuesday, Marks and Detweiler will be guests on "The Exchange" on UI radio station WSUI, AM 910.

--At 7 p.m. Tuesday their film, "Purple State of Mind," will be screened and discussed in 100 Phillips Hall on the UI campus. To view the film's trailer, visit

Both the book and the movie attempt to chart a new conversation about faith, politics and culture in the United States, seeking an open and honest discussion about deeply held beliefs. The references to "Purple State" in the titles of the film and promotional tour reflect the view that America is not made up of distinct red (Republican) and blue (Democratic) states, as some color-coded political maps suggest, but rather is a complex blending of the two colors and viewpoints.

Marks attended the Iowa Writers Workshop 1987-89, and since graduation he has published three novels -- "The Wall," a New York Times Notable Book; "War Torn," named one of the Best of 2003 by Publishers Weekly; and "Fangland," optioned for cinema by Hilary Swank.

Marks wrote stories for the Daily Iowan before joining the staff of the Iowa City Press-Citizen full-time. He left the Press-Citizen in 1989 and went on to clerk for the New York Times in Washington, D.C. before spending a decade at US News and World Report as Berlin bureau chief and then a domestic correspondent and then joining "60 Minutes."

Sponsors for various of the events include the Writers' Workshop, Prairie Lights, United Campus Ministries, St. Andrew Presbyterian Church and the East Iowa Presbytery. The Writers' Workshop is a graduate program in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to, click the link "Join or leave the list (or change settings)" and follow the instructions.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACTS: Joe Cilek, Health and Sports Studies, 319-335-9181,; John Marks,; Winston Barclay, Arts Center Relations, 319-384-0073 (office), 319-430-1013 (cell),