PERSONAL: Son of Bill Whittaker (a racing writer); partner of Amy Willesee.
ADDRESSES: Home—Sydney, Australia. Agent—c/o Author Mail, St. Martin's Press, 175 5th Ave., New York, NY 10010.
CAREER: Journalist. Worked as a staff writer for Australian magazine; Weekend Australian, member of dossier investigative team.
AWARDS, HONORS: Asia-Pacific Writing Award (with Amy Willesee), 2002, for The Road to Mount Buggery.
(With Les Kennedy) Sins of the Brother: The Definitive Story of Ivan Milat and the Backpacker Murders, Macmillan (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 1998.
(With Amy Willesee) The Road to Mount Buggery: A Journey through the Curiously Named Places of Australia, Pan Macmillan Australia (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 2001.
(Editor) Adam Gilchrist, Walking to Victory: A Personal Story of the Ashes and World Cup Campaigns, 2002–03, Macmillan (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 2003.
(With Amy Willesee) Love and Death in Kathmandu: A Strange Tale of Royal Murder, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: Mark Whittaker is a journalist who has collaborated on several books. In his two collaborations with partner Amy Willesee, he looks at the strange names of Australian towns and at a royal murder-suicide. The Road to Mount Buggery: A Journey through the Curiously Named Places of Australia is a travelogue inspired by the couple's decision to take a year off from work and visit the sites of some of the placenames Whittaker discovered on maps. He wanted to know how towns and geological areas such as Mount Treachery, Point Torment, Cape Catastrophe, and Massacre Inlet got their names. The book recounts these stories, as well as the people the couple meet and their own experiences on the road. Geoff Parkes, writing on Adequacy.net, commented that "the history behind each town and place they visit is fascinating," but bemoaned the couple's uninteresting experiences and the book's "continuing self-centered prose."
In Love and Death in Kathmandu: A Strange Tale of Royal Murder Whittaker and Willesee explore the family murder-suicide committed by Nepalese Crown Prince Diprenda in 2001. Diprenda walked in on a quiet family meeting dressed in army fatigues, and commenced gunning down his family, including the king and queen, his brother and sister, and a number of aunts and uncles. He then shot himself but lived long enough—two days—to be crowned king. According to the authors, Diprenda, who was called "Dippy," was known for his self-indulgences, including marijuana, liquor, and guns, all of which came into play the night of the massacre. The final rift appeared to be his love for a woman that his family did not approve of.
A Publishers Weekly contributor said that the authors of Love and Death in Kathmandu "do an excellent job of showing how a web of tradition, local superstitions and a legacy of bloodshed helped sanction the prince's action." The reviewer added that "the book is full of compelling snapshots of Nepalese life." David Pitt, writing in Booklist, called the effort a "well-researched account," and noted that the authors "uncover a drama as poignant as any novelist could create." In a review for the Linsmore, New South Wales, Australia Northern Rivers Echo of Australia, Robin Osborne concluded that this "tragic tale is told well and colourfully."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, June 1, 2004, David Pitt, review of Love and Death in Kathmandu: A Strange Tale of Royal Murder, p. 1691.
Library Journal, May 15, 2004, John F. Riddick, review of Love and Death in Kathmandu, p. 100.
Northern Rivers Echo (Lismore, New South Wales, Australia), March 3, 2005, Robin Osborne, review of Love and Death in Kathmandu.
Publishers Weekly, June 14, 2004, review of Love and Death in Kathmandu, p. 56.
Adequacy.net, http://www.adequacy.net/ (March 18, 2005), Geoff Parkes, review of The Road to Mount Buggery: A Journey through the Curiously Named Places of Australia.