HarperCollins Speakers Bureau

John Searles

Novelist, Cosmo Editor, and Today Show Literary Commentator


  • A Funny Thing Happened on My Way to Becoming A Writer
  • Turning Your Life into Fiction: Why Fiction is Better Than the Truth
  • How to Drive Your Reader Wild in Bed and Six Other Scintillating Secrets Every Writer Should Know
  • The 7 Rules of Creative Inspiration


New York
More Media
  • Video: Southern Voices 2014 - Hoover Public Library

John Searles is the author of the best-selling novels, Help for the Haunted, Strange but True and Boy Still Missing (all published by William Morrow), and his essays have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, and other national newspapers and magazines. He frequently appears on NBC's Today Show to discuss his favorite book selections. His early, on-air championing of books such as The Help, Water for Elephants, A Reliable Wife, and The Lovely Bones has greatly contributed to the success of numerous New York Times best-sellers. Searles has also appeared on CBS's The Early Show, NPR's "Fresh Air," Live! With Regis and Kelly, and on CNN. As an editor-at-large at Cosmopolitan, he was involved with all book excerpts and reviews, the magazine's best-selling book series, website, radio station, and i-pad apps.

Time magazine named Searles a "Person to Watch," and the New York Daily News dubbed him a "New Yorker to Watch" when his first novel, Boy Still Missing, was published. His most recent book, Help for the Haunted (William Morrow),  was named as a Top 10 Mystery and Suspense Book of 2013 by Amazon and Top 10 Best Crime Fiction by the Boston Globe, in addition to appearing on Entertainment Weekly’s Top 10 Must List and becoming a Goodreads Pick for Best of 2013. Praised by the Washington Post as “an exceptional piece of story-telling” and Gillian Flynn as “dazzling,” Help for the Haunted received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist and Library Journal. Searles's humor, affability and industry expertise make him an ideal speaker for a variety of audiences including colleges and universities, publishing programs, writers' festivals, libraries, and library conferences.

Searles was born and raised in Monroe, Connecticut, the son of a truck driver and stay-at-home mom. After his high school graduation, he worked at the nearby Dupont factory. To save money for college tuition, he stayed on at the factory and worked a night-job as a telemarketer, keeping people on the phone for hours asking important questions like, "On a scale of one to ten, how do you rate Bubble Yum in terms of its chewability?" When he finally saved enough money, Searles quit the factory and began commuting to Southern Connecticut State University. He majored in business, because he thought it was practical, but minored in creative writing, because it was something he loved. He was fortunate to win a number of writing awards from the University. Encouraged by this recognition, he moved to New York City to pursue a master's degree in creative writing at New York University.

Following his time at NYU, Searles waited tables and attempted to publish his novel. His most memorable rejection came when an editor mistakenly left this note inserted in the manuscript: "I could barely make it to page 60 and I feel really sorry for anyone who has to read the whole thing." Soon afterward, Searles attended a writer's conference in South Carolina, where he met the fiction editor of Redbook. She liked his writing and offered him a freelance job reading short story submissions for 50 cents a story. He took that job for over a year until he was offered what was at first meant to be a part-time position in the books department at Cosmopolitan.

Searles lives in New York City and Sag Harbor, New York.

Praise for John Searles:

“John Searles gave a fabulous keynote address at the 2008 Backspace Writers Conference. Not only did he charm the audience with his enthusiasm and humor, he worked very closely with me and my business partner prior to the conference in order to tailor his talk to the exact needs of our audience. Many said John's keynote was the highlight of the conference, and worth the cost of the registration fee alone. We couldn't be more pleased, and would happily work with John and the HarperCollins Speakers Bureau again.”
—Karen Dionne, Administrator, Backspace LLC

Praise for Strange but True:

“John Searles is my new favorite writer, and Strange But True is the absolute best novel I’ve read in a long, long time. Part psychological suspense, part character study, and all beautifully written, this is a page-turner with characters you can never forget.”
—Lisa Scottoline, bestselling author of Killer Smile

“The emotions ring true on every page. These are living, breathing characters and John Searles’ novel illuminates the intricate dynamics of families with humor, heart, and truth.”
—Augusten Burroughs, bestselling author of Running With Scissors and Dry

“A fine, unsettling novel with richly etched characters and a delicious sense of menace.”
—Dennis Lehane, author of Mystic River

“This tale has a light, eccentric aspect... You’ll race right through it.”
New York Times

“[Searles] shows how mundane events and discoveries can jump-start the spirit and bring us to terms with what and who we are... remarkably true to life.”
USA Today

“Wonderfully entertaining.”

“You know what’s coming next, but you don’t know all of it. This is the reason we keep reading.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“Part thriller, part mystery, part coming-of-age fable, this story of a high-school quarterback’s tragic death – and a most unlikely pregnancy – will hold you transfixed.”

“[Searles] wisely doesn’t make promises he can’t keep, and they may not be for everyone. That they one day, may, though, shimmers in the stalthy beauty of this novel.”
New York Daily News

Praise for Boy Still Missing:

“I meant to get so much done on the day I picked up Boy Still Missing. Instead, my ‘things to do’ list blew away, the clock face blurred, and I read – hungrily, compulsively, worried sick for a troubled young character about whom I cared deeply.”
—Wally Lamb, author of I Know This Much Is True

“Once you get into this novel, you’ll forget the world – the book is that seductive, that suspenseful.”
—Frank McCourt, author of Angela’s Ashes and ‘Tis

“An impressively assured new voice.”

New York Times Book Review

Entertainment Weekly

“A lively thriller with a big heart.”

“A sensual debut novel... Builds up roller-coaster speed, careening to a dramatic, poignant finale.”

Boy Still Missing takes us to a small, hardscrabble town like the one where Searles grew up, and by bringing to life the primal emotions of a character shattered by a needless death, it conveys a message of hope” People can find peace by standing up for what they deeply believe in.”
New York Daily News

“A gritty, sometimes heartbreaking coming-of-age novel… Proof that a child of tragic parents can indeed break the cycle of misfortune.”
Redbook Magazine

“[A] vivid first novel… You’ll root for Dominick as he weather tough times and finds solace in love.”