Travel Writing Conference

Spring 2017


The CLA presents its first-ever writers’ conference, dedicated to the far-flung nonfiction artists who chronicle the globe in all its glory. We’ll hear stories of life on the road (as well as what our adventurers eat along the way). Our panelists will also offer a plethora of practical advice for the would-be travel writers in the audience.

March 21-23, 7pm – Student Union Theatre

Parking will be available in San José State University’s North garage on the corner 10th St. and San Fernando St. (elevator access) and South garage on the corner of 7th St. and San Salvador St. More information can be found here.

No tickets are required to attend the event; however, seating is limited so please arrive early.

Tuesday, March 21 – Food & Travel Panel

Janis Cooke Newman’s travel writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Dallas Morning News, and the San Francisco Chronicle. She is the author of A Master Plan for Rescue and Mary (which was named USA Today’s Best Historical Novel of the Year) as well as the memoir, The Russian Word for Snow. She is also the founder of the Lit Camp writers conference.





Jacqueline Harmon Butler is the recipient of many press awards, including Italy’s prestigious “Golden Linchetto Prize” for best foreign journalist and the Travelers’ Tales Solas Travel and Food Silver Award. In a variety of international publications and anthologies, her travel writing has tempted readers’ palates with mouth-watering meals and left them salivating for more. Her books include, the 7th edition of the Travel Writer’s Handbook, Taking a Chance on Love, a memoir which chronicles her 20-year romance with a much younger Italian man, and a romantic novel, One Last Trip to Paris.





andrew lam

Andrew Lam is a senior editor at New America Media in San Francisco
and an author of three books, Perfume Dreams: Reflections on the
Vietnamese Diaspora, a memoir, East Eats West: Writing in Two
Hemispheres, a book of essays, and a collection of short
stories, Birds of Paradise Lost.  For 8 years Lam has received more
than a dozen journalism and literary awards and fellowships, including
the Pen Open Book, Josephine Miles Literary award, and the Society for
Professional Journalism Award, and was a regular commentator on NPR’s All Things Considered.
The subject of the documentary about being a Vietnamese refugee and going back to Vietnam
called “My Journey Home,” which aired on PBS in 2004, Lam is currently working on his next book
of short stories and a novel.




Margo True headshot


Margo True has been the food editor at Sunset since 2006. Before coming to Sunset, she was the executive editor at Saveur magazine, and before that, a senior editor and writer at Gourmet. Margo has won several national honors for her writing, including four James Beard journalism awards and two awards from the IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals). She edited The Sunset Cookbook (Oxmoor, 2010), The Sunset Edible Garden Cookbook (Oxmoor, 2012), The Sunset Essential Western Cookbook (also Oxmoor, 2012) and was the lead author of The One-Block Feast (Ten Speed Press, 2011), a backyard-farming book based on the magazine’s James Beard Award-winning blog, Her latest project was Sunset’s The Great Outdoors Cookbook (2014), an IACP cookbook of the year.


Wednesday, March 22 – Adventure Travel Panel: Moderated by Cathleen Miller

The Martha Heasley Cox Lecture

The New York Times bestselling author Susan Orlean has been called  “a national treasure” by the Washington Post. Her deeply moving—and deeply humorous—explorations of American stories have earned her a reputation as one of our most distinctive journalistic voices. Her bestseller The Orchid Thief inspired the Academy Award-winning film Adaptation. A staff writer for The New Yorker for over 20 years and a former contributing editor at Rolling Stone and Vogue, she penned the collection My Kind of Place: Travel Stories from a Woman Who’s Been Everywhere.


cathleen miller

Cathleen Miller is the director of the Center for Literary Arts. She has
circled the globe to interview the sources for Champion of Choice, her
biography of UN leader Nafis Sadik. A winner of the Society of American
Travel Writers’ Lowell Thomas Award, her travel essays have appeared
in the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco
Chronicle, and Los Angeles Times. Her essay on escaping
from kidnappers in Brazil will be featured in Travelers’ Tales Best Travel
Writing Volume 11. Miller’s work includes the international bestseller Desert Flower, which has been
translated into 55 languages and adapted as a feature film. She teaches creative nonfiction at San
José State University.


Michael Katakis

Michael Katakis is a member of the Royal Geographical Society and the manager of Ernest Hemingway’s literary estate. His books include A Thousand Shards of Glass; Despatches; For Sale, Baby Shoes, Never Worn: Six Words, Six Stories, Six Writers; Photographs and Words; and others. RGS President Michael Palin called his photography “an exercise in clarity, economy and purpose.” It has been featured in the National Portait Gallery, the Royal Geographical Society,  and others. In 2008, the British Library requested his photography and authored works be featured in their American Collection, and has since recorded interviews for their Oral Histories Department.




dan white

Dan White is the author of Under The Stars: How America Fell In Love
With Camping (Henry Holt 2016), a hilarious look at the nation’s love
affair with roughing it. Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild, recently
described Under The Stars as “The definitive book on camping in
America … A passionate, witty, and deeply engaging examination of why
humans venture into the wild.” White is also the author of The Cactus
Eaters (HarperCollins 2008) which was a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller and a Los Angeles
Times “Discovery” selection. A former Steinbeck Fellow, he has taught writing at San José State
University and Columbia University, where he earned his MFA.





Don George

See biography below.



Thursday, March 23 – Travel Editors’ Panel: Moderated by Don George

don_george_590pxNational Geographic has called Don George “a legendary travel writer and editor.” Don’s new book is The Way of Wanderlust: The Best Travel Writing of Don George. He also wrote the book on travel writing, Lonely Planet’s Guide to Travel Writing, which is the bestselling travel writing guide in the world. In addition, Don has edited ten award-winning literary travel anthologies, including An Innocent Abroad, Better Than Fiction, and The Kindness of Strangers. Don has been Travel Editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, founder and editor of’s Wanderlust travel site, and Global Travel Editor for Lonely Planet. He is currently the editor at large for National Geographic Traveler, special features editor for BBC Travel, and editor of Geographic Expedition’s literary blog, Wanderlust: Literary Journeys for the Discerning Traveler.



spud hilton

Spud Hilton is the travel editor of The San Francisco Chronicle, where
since 2000 he has written about (and been hopelessly lost in)
destinations on six continents. His attempts to defy the expectations of
places–from Havana’s back alleys to Kyoto’s shrines to a hippie bus in
Modesto–has earned 11 Lowell Thomas Awards. Spud also writes a
biweekly column at, and his travel tip videos and
#CarryOnShame campaign have been featured by Peter Greenberg,
Rudy Maxa, “GMA,” “The Today Show” and “ Quest Means Business” on CNN International. He lives
in San Francisco with his wife, Ann.




larry h

Larry Habegger is a writer and editor who has been covering the
world since his international travels began in the 1970s. As a freelance
writer for more than three decades, his work has appeared in many
major newspapers and magazines, including the Los Angeles Times,
Chicago Tribune, Travel & Leisure, and Outside. In 1993 he cofounded
the award-winning Travelers’ Tales Books with James and Tim O’ Reilly,
where he helps oversee the company’s publishing program and has
worked on all of its 130-plus books. Larry teaches the craft of memoir and the personal essay and
runs several writers groups. He is also a founder of The Prose Doctors, an editors consortium; editor
of the annual magazine The Travel Guide to California; and editor-in-chief of, a
destination discovery site.




Julia Cosgrove is the vice president and editor in chief of AFAR, the critically acclaimed media brand that inspires, guides, and enables travelers to have deeper, richer, and more fulfilling experiences. Under Julia’s leadership, AFAR is the only brand to win a Lowell Thomas Award every year since launch—Best Travel Magazine every year, Best Website for the past four years, and Best Travel App in 2014—and the only brand to be an ASME finalist for General Excellence across both print and digital. Last year AFAR won six top FOLIO awards, including Best Full Issue and Best Website. Prior to launching AFAR in 2008, Julia was a writer and editor at media companies big and small, including Time Out and the Meredith Corporation. A graduate of Barnard College, Julia has taught magazine writing and design at the at Stanford University.


All events are open to the public and wheelchair accessible.