|Steve Berry has asserted that he received 85 rejection notices before his first historical thriller, THE AMBER ROOM, was published in 2003. It is safe to assume that his mail has included few such letters since then. The author of the popular Cotton Malone series, he now has millions of books in print and makes regular appearances on the bestseller list. Berry was born in Atlanta and attended Valdosta State University, graduating in 1977 with a bachelor's degree in political science. Three years later he earned a degree from the Mercer University Walter F. George School of Law. Although he embarked on a successful career as a trial attorney, he harbored a deep desire to write. His first few manuscripts were rejected repeatedly, but in 2000 and 2001 he won fiction-writing contests sponsored by the Georgia State Bar, and his short stories were published in the organization's journal. In 2002, after a dozen years of trying, he finally sold a full-length manuscript, and the following year THE AMBER ROOM, a thriller about artworks the Nazis had looted from Russia, hit bookstores. In 2006 he published THE TEMPLAR LEGACY, the first Cotton Malone book. Malone is affiliated with the Magellan Billet, a secretive division of the Department of Justice, and his fictional adventures have taken him to the Middle East, China, and Paris, among other locales. Berry has said, "My thrillers center around one theme: something vital has been lost in the past and must be found today. That ?something' varies from book to book--things like the body of Alexander of the Great [and] the first emperor of China's tomb." A passionate history buff, he does intensive research for each book, and he and his wife, Elizabeth, are the co-founders of History Matters, a group dedicated to raising funds for preservation and conservation.