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Pacific Grove Author Shares Compelling Stories from Local Life through Writing and Reading

Local books: Pacific Grove author reads and writes compelling stories from life

Mark Sarvas, an author and professor based in Pacific Grove, California, has made reading and writing a central part of his life. With a home library boasting over 3,500 books, Sarvas understands the importance of being a lifelong reader for aspiring authors. He emphasizes this fact to his writing students at UCLA and believes that a tradition and lifestyle of reading can greatly impact one’s perspective and writing craft.

A career in writing

Sarvas began his career as a screenwriter in Los Angeles but eventually found his true passion in novel writing. He discovered that he didn’t need to rely on the constraints of the film industry to express his creativity; all he had to do was sit in a room and write. His first novel, “Harry, Revised,” tells the story of a man trying to reinvent himself after his wife’s death and is filled with humor and comic energy.

One of Sarvas’ main inspirations for “Harry, Revised” came from his love for Alexandre Dumas’ novels, such as “The Three Musketeers” and “The Count of Monte Cristo.” He connected his own book to “The Count of Monte Cristo” through a Monte Cristo sandwich that appears in the first chapter. Sarvas believes that every writer incorporates elements from their own lives into their work, whether it’s obvious or hidden.

Exploring identity and history

Sarvas’ second novel, “Memento Park,” is named after an actual place in Budapest and explores themes of identity, family, and Judaism. The story follows a young man who learns of a possible looted painting that once belonged to his family during World War II. To recover the painting, he must confront his strained relationship with his father, delve into his family’s history, and reconnect with his Jewish heritage.

Writing “Memento Park” took Sarvas four years, during which he conducted extensive research without wanting to overshadow the story with excessive details. He also traveled to Budapest to revisit the city that had played a significant role in his childhood memories. The book allowed Sarvas to reflect on his own journey into Judaism and the impact it had on his life and writing.

Awards and recognition

Both of Sarvas’ novels, “Harry, Revised” and “Memento Park,” have garnered critical acclaim and international success. “Harry, Revised” has been published in over a dozen countries, was a finalist for the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association Fiction Award in 2008, and designated a Denver Post “Good Read.” “Memento Park” won the 2019 American Book Award.

Related facts:

  • Mark Sarvas converted his garage into a library to accommodate his extensive book collection.
  • He believes that being a lifelong reader is crucial for aspiring authors.
  • “Harry, Revised” is filled with humor and draws inspiration from Alexandre Dumas’ novels.
  • “Memento Park” explores themes of identity, family, and Judaism.
  • Sarvas spent four years writing the first draft of “Memento Park” while conducting research and visiting Budapest for inspiration.
  • “Memento Park” won the 2019 American Book Award.

Key takeaway:

Mark Sarvas, a Pacific Grove author and professor, emphasizes the importance of being a lifelong reader for aspiring authors. His novels, such as “Harry, Revised” and “Memento Park,” showcase his talent for storytelling and his ability to explore complex themes with humor and depth. Sarvas’ books have received critical acclaim and international recognition, solidifying his place as a compelling voice in contemporary literature.


Mark Sarvas’ journey from screenwriting to novel writing has allowed him to fully express his creativity and craft engaging stories that resonate with readers. As an author and professor, he encourages aspiring writers to cultivate a tradition of reading and to draw inspiration from their own lives. Through novels like “Harry, Revised” and “Memento Park,” Sarvas proves that stories rooted in personal experiences and emotions can captivate and move readers worldwide.

Denk Liu
Denk Liu
Denk Liu is an honest person who always tells it like it is. He's also very objective, seeing the situation for what it is and not getting wrapped up in emotion. He's a regular guy - witty and smart but not pretentious. He loves playing video games and watching action movies in his free time.

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