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Carine McCandless

Author of New York Times bestseller The Wild Truth and consultant and contributor to Jon Krakauer's book and Sean Penn's critically acclaimed film Into the Wild

Carine McCandless at TedxEmory
  • About Carine McCandless

    Carine McCandless is an entrepreneur, activist and mother. She has been successfully self-employed since she started her first company at the age of nineteen. Her unique skill set lends itself well to a wide variety of lecture topics and she has spoken to education and corporate venues across the United States. McCandless’ memoir, The Wild Truth, was released in November 2014 and quickly became both a New York Times and a National Best Seller, followed by international publication in six countries and counting. The Wild Truth has been selected for many Best Books of 2014 lists including those chosen by readers and editors at Newsweek, Vanity Fair, Amazon and IndieNext.

    Carine McCandless is the sister of literary icon Chris McCandless, a.k.a. Alexander Supertramp, whose life story captured the hearts of millions of people around the world. She played a vital role in the success of Into the Wild, the internationally bestselling book written by Jon Krakauer.

    Krakauer endorses McCandless as “a gifted communicator, she is engaging, inspiring, and bracingly outspoken.” Into the Wild sold millions of copies in the U.S. alone, spent a remarkable 119 straight weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, is printed in thirty-one languages and is required reading at universities all over the globe including the U.S., U.K., Italy, Germany, Canada and France.

    McCandless also worked closely with Academy Award-winning actor and writer/director Sean Penn on his critically acclaimed film adaptation of Into the Wild. An accomplished writer, she received screen credit for her script contributions and narrative throughout the film, working alongside Penn, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Sharon Olds, and actress Jena Malone who portrays Carine McCandless. During the making of the film, McCandless worked as a direct consultant to Penn and provided valuable insight to many of the actors including protagonist Emile Hirsch and Academy Award-winner Marcia Gay Harden.

    She has been interviewed for such widely read publications as Outside Magazine, The New Yorker, Newsweek as well as the Los Angeles Times and has appeared on national television broadcasts such as The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Sunday Morning, MSNBC’s Morning Joe and ABC News 20/20. Carine is also featured in the PBS special documentary Return to the Wild.

    She lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia with her two daughters.

    Contact us for more information about booking Carine McCandless for your next event. 

  • Speaking Topics

    Into The Wild Truth of Education

    Speaking to students and educators, in this lecture Carine McCandless extends the powerful lessons learned from Jon Krakauer’s book Into the Wild–which has been taught in classes for almost two decades–with the raw and honest stories from her memoir The Wild Truth. McCandless connects with today’s generation in a rare form, providing personal insight and taking their experience with an assigned text to a level of understanding and value that will remain with them beyond the classroom. Dr. Douglas Kennedy, laudable professor at Virginia Wesleyan College said of McCandless’ visit: ”Never had I seen the students so riveted and hanging on a speaker’s every word. Her message, delivery, warmth, and connection was like none other I had seen.”

    Not Your Typical Corporate Conference

    Typical slides with statistics and pie charts are entirely absent when Carine McCandless addresses corporate audiences. Instead, her presentations are filled with personal anecdotes about the drive and vision that have kept her successfully self-employed since the age of nineteen. Whether the topic is productive staff management based on respect and motivation to build a team of leaders or developing a network of loyal customers, McCandless shares her advice on what it takes for businesses to stand apart from the crowd.

    Difficult Journeys…To Great and Unexpected Places

    Empowering women is one of the most important things Carine McCandless works to achieve through her lectures and writing. Speaking to women from all walks of life, she pulls from her own experience overcoming adversity: as a survivor of domestic violence through adolescence into adulthood, as a successful young entrepreneur in a male dominated field, amidst her relationship failures and successes, and in her unexpected roles as a mother. McCandless shares how her absolute greatest rewards have been found at the end of some incredibly difficult journeys.

    Special Needs, Special Parenting

    Having overcome the devastating effects of a tumultuous childhood, McCandless determined early in life that the best way to break the cycle of bad parenting was to never become a parent herself. But as they say; People plan…God laughs. From her own history as an unprepared adoptive mother of a two year old in crisis, to raising her newborn diagnosed with Down Syndrome, McCandless shares how her children have been the absolute greatest gift, and the best source of calm in her sometimes chaotic life. Her thoughtful presentation assures audiences that the most unexpected events in life can reveal the most important lessons.

  • Video

  • Praise for Carine McCandless


    Wow, the entire event was a wild success! Carine did an absolute phenomenal job on her presentation and the feedback was a resounding positive from both students and adults in attendance! It truly was one of the best presentations I have ever personally attended. She is an extremely kind and down-to-earth human being as well as a powerful and deeply moving speaker. Countless teachers, educators and support staff mentioned how engaged our students were. This was especially true throughout her presentation, and given the trauma and difficulties they face, this speaks to the power of her presentation and energy. We were so pleased with our students’ response. One of our most ‘at-risk’ students remarked after, ‘That was awesome.’ We were very blessed for everything to work out the way it did.

    New Horizon Center – Pocatello

    I had the honor and privilege to speak before Carine McCandless about Adverse Childhood Experiences at an event at Fort Myer in the fall of 2017.  I was so moved by her personal story that I invited her to give the keynote address at SCAN of Northern Virginia’s 16th annual Ally in Prevention Luncheon in May 2018.  I was looking for someone who was willing to share their personal experience of child abuse and neglect.  Someone who could tell their story with honest emotions while engaging the audience through the power of words and visual descriptions.  The 170 guests at our luncheon were immediately sent back in time to Carine’s childhood and felt the love and connection that she and her brother Chris shared.  We were not left with the feeling of being sorry for Carine, but rather were empowered by the fact that we all can make a difference in the life of a child through our connections.

    SCAN of Northern Virginia

    “Carine was very well received and took the time to make everyone feel special as an individual. I was very impressed by her presentation

    Ohio Council of Teachers of English Language Arts

    Carine was an excellent speaker for our graduation! We received nothing but positive feedback from those who attended. Some people indicated it was the best graduation speaker we have ever had! Parts of her speech were raw and honest, which is exactly what the students (and parents) needed to hear. The speech also left the audience with a number of things to think about as it relates to emotional and social issues. We had a number of students and parents stay after to talk with her and have her sign their books. She took so much time with each person and listened to their own stories. She was just fantastic! We loved having her at NSA and would highly recommend her to others. The Class of 2017 will certainly never forget their commencement speech!

    Nansemond-Suffolk Academy

    I personally loved Carine’s presentations for many reasons. She was incredibly genuine and sincere with the kids and she was honest with them; I know they appreciated an adult being so ‘real’ with them. Her message was an incredible one about choices and paths and truth at a time when our students need it most. Her presentation was engaging and student-focused and I was incredibly sad when I saw that we only had a few minutes left. My students just wanted to keep talking with her and that’s the sign of an amazing presenter. Thank you!

    Baker High School

    Carine has a personality that makes you want to instantly be friends with her. She fearlessly told us her story which inspired me just as much as her brother’s.

    Student, Baker High School

    TEDxEmory is beyond thankful that Carine was able to speak at our conference. Throughout our interactions leading up to and during the event she was professional and friendly, an absolute pleasure to work with. She came prepared and gave an incredibly powerful talk. Following the conference I had several friends tell me that her words moved them to tears.

    TEDxEmory, Emory University

    I cannot say enough wonderful things about Carine’s visit – she was truly amazing. Anyone who can take a bunch of cynical 18 year olds and get them to actually listen and engage is a miracle worker. She spent so much time engaging with the students not just in the formal events, but spoke with every student who came up to her in between events, signed books, took photos and more. I haven’t gotten feedback on a speaker like this as long as I’ve been doing this. Her talk received a standing ovation and absolute rave reviews on social media from our students. I would strongly recommend her to any school that is considering her.

    Flagler College

    Carine was incredible—just a joy and inspiration to be around.  She took her role in the festival quite seriously, including crafting a 20-minute intro for six of our Young Chautauquans —they did readings from Into the Wild and The Wild Truth, which were selected by Carine specifically for the way they tied together and introduced her speech.  It was wonderful.  The audience was engaged, and there was a clear emotional impact.  I’ve never had people cry at the festival before, but she really touched people with her story.  The post-event book signing was incredible.  I watched grown men cry when they spoke with her—Chris’s story has much resonance in our area, and you could see how many people felt a connection with Carine as a result.  Carine made sure each person had a moment with her during the signing and for the audience who had books signed, it was clearly a significant experience.  It’s a small touch that makes the event just that much better.

    Nevada Humanities Festival

    As a charity organization that serves women in crisis, we could not have asked for a better speaker than Carine McCandless. Carine is articulate, eloquent, and her talk was wildly honest, humbling and inspiring!

    The Women’s Home

    I can’t begin to express how amazing it was to be able to have a Q&A session with Carine McCandless. Campbell-Savona didn’t just see Into the Wild and The Wild Truth as ‘more work’ but as something we can apply to our lives. I think I speak for everyone else when I say that we admire her quest to keep Chris’ legacy alive and to spread the truth about it.

    Student, Campbell Savona Jr./Sr. High School

    It was the single best learning experience my students could have had this year in English (for some, maybe in any class). The audience was very engaged and Carine was insightful and responsive to student questions. Carine maximized her time and tried to cover as much as she could while also receiving every question possible. She has a certain ease with teenagers and she was gracious to all of them as she stayed to sign every last one of their books. She and I only wished she had more time. Our heads are still spinning with excitement!

    Campbell Savona Jr./Sr. High School

    Carine’s presentation inspired everyone at the conference and we were so fortunate to have her as our keynote speaker!  Everyone that I spoke to had wonderful things to say about her presentation.  She truly is a remarkable person and I feel honored to have had the opportunity to get to know her better during our conference.

    President, Virginia Government Finance Officers Association

    Literature comes alive when Carine McCandless shares her remarkable and forthright insights about her brother and the book about his life, <em>Into the Wild</em>.  Moreover, her gentle delivery of her brother’s adventure encourages our students to connect the written word with philosophical ideas…Carine challenged their preconceptions about Chris, their own lives and the world in which they will live. Her lessons reach into each student’s subconscious where they resonate for life.

    Westfield High School

    I wanted to express my gratitude for and recognition of the wonderful and amazing talk presented by Carine McCandless. Her presentation touched the hearts, souls and minds of all who were present. The Freshmen class was honored and blessed to have a speaker who took the time and forethought to research the college support offerings and intertwining the information into her talk.

    Virginia Wesleyan College

    At the Cooperative Leadership Institute, we are constantly in search of the most meaningful and relevant lessons to share with our clients.  Carine McCandless opened our annual speaker series with her message on “Courage in Life and Business.”  She seamlessly wove stories of <em>Into the Wild</em> with feats from her personal and professional lives.  Unanimously well-received, the event was fast-paced, touching, insightful, and beautiful to witness.  Carine has a message that will inspire each one of us to better friends, colleagues, and leaders – a rare treasure, indeed.

    Cooperative Leadership Institute

    Carine kicked off our most recent seminar series speaking on the subject of Courage. After her visit I had countless employees stop by my office or catch me in the hallway to comment on and thank me for bringing her to our company. Her message was received in a very special way. One employee told me that they had never before thought of themselves as courageous, but after listening to Carine speak they now know that they do have that courage inside of them. Others were so touched and moved by her words that they came to tears during our conversations. She touched many of our employees in a deeper and more meaningful way than I thought possible through our seminar and speaker series. Carine is truly gifted in what she does, and although I never had the honor of knowing her brother, I am sure I am correct when I say he would be very proud of his little sister.

    B.F. Saul Company

    Never had I seen the students so riveted and hanging on a speaker’s every word.  Her message, delivery, warmth, and connection was like none other I had seen. Where it had taken me several weeks until my students were completely comfortable opening up to me, Carine was able to achieve that same feat in minutes.  Carine’s gentle nature provided the support for everyone to participate in the discussion and some of my quietest students shared their thoughts like never before.  I have had countless guest speakers assist me over the years. None has approached the effect she has on an audience. Carine’s message of perseverance, overcoming difficulty, and making the most out of life is not a tale of sorrow related to her brother’s death.  Instead, it is a story of life; hers, her brother’s, and how her audience can get the most out of theirs.

    Virginia Wesleyan College

    Carine knows vastly more about what made Chris tick than anyone I’ve spoken to, and is the only one who seems to understand what motivated him to hitchhike to Alaska and walk alone into the wilderness. Carine’s contributions both to my book and Sean’s film were huge.  For the first two decades of Carine’s life, Chris had been her soul mate and confidant.  A gifted communicator, she is engaging, inspiring, and bracingly outspoken.  Without a question, nobody on earth is more qualified to talk about Chris McCandless than Carine McCandless, the little sister he so adored.

    Jon Krakauer
  • Books by Carine McCandless

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  • Carine McCandless travels from Virginia Beach, VA

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