Peter Chilson teaches writing and literature at Washington State University. He is the author of the travelogue Riding the Demon: On the Road in West Africa (University of Georgia Press, 1999), which won the Associated Writing Programs Award in nonfiction, and the story collection Disturbance-Loving Species: A Novella and Stories (Mariner Books, 2007), winner of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Bakeless Fiction Prize and the Maria Thomas Fiction Prize. His essays, journalism, and short stories have appeared in Foreign Policy, the American Scholar, Gulf Coast, High Country News, Audubon, and Ascent, among other publications, as well as twice in the Best American Travel Writing anthology.
Chilson first traveled to West Africa in 1985 as a volunteer in the Peace Corps, teaching junior high school English in the village of Bouza, Niger, near the border with Nigeria. A longtime visitor to Mali as a travel writer and journalist, he traveled to Mali in 2012 for the Foreign Policy-Pulitzer Center Borderlands project, witnessing one of the tumultuous year’s attempted coups in the capital of Bamako and becoming one of the few Western journalists to visit the country’s troubled northern half to see firsthand the effects of civil war and the new breakaway jihadist state.
Chilson’s e-book, We Never Knew Exactly Where: Dispatches From the Lost Country of Mali, came out in January 2013. His forthcoming book, Writing Abroad: A Guide for Travelers (co-written with Joanne B. Mulcahy), has just been published.