Gerard Helferich

90-Minute Workshop. Session #4: Saturday, February 18, 11 AM – 12:30PM

The Art of Nonfiction

This workshop is an exploration of the elements of good nonfiction writing, including voice, surprise, personal connection, intensity, flow, content, significance, and wordcraft.  In relation to wordcraft, we’ll consider topics such as precision, specificity, understatement, readability, images, concision, and sound.  For all these subjects, we’ll look at examples from accomplished (and some less-accomplished) writers; we’ll also discuss sources for further reading.

San Miguel Writers Conference non fiction


Gerard Helferich is author of Stone of Kings: In Search of the Lost Jade of the Mayawhich will be published in January 2012.  He’s also author of the highly praised Humboldt’s Cosmos: Alexander von Humboldt and the Latin American Journey That Changed the Way We See the World, which was a Discover magazine Science Bestseller, and High Cotton: Four Seasons in the Mississippi Delta, which was a Book Sense Notable Title and winner of the 2008 Authors Award for Nonfiction from the Mississippi Library Association.



San Miguel Writers Conference non fiction


A member of the National Book Critics Circle, he publishes book reviews in the Wall Street Journal, and has contributed to the Fodor’s travel guides to Mexico and Guatemala.

Before turning to writing in 2002, he was an editor and publisher for 25 years at companies such as Doubleday, Simon & Schuster, and John Wiley & Sons.



Quotes on previous books:

Humboldt’s Cosmos:

“A thrilling tale of adventure travel.”  –Los Angeles Times

“A lush and engaging biographical adventure tale.”  –Publishers Weekly

San Miguel Writers Conference non fictionHigh Cotton:

“Evocative.”    – Wall Street Journal

“In the mode of John McPhee’s recent Uncommon Carriers….A perceptive and unaffected look at an occupation that, however changed, is almost as ancient and venerated as human civilization.”    –Business Week

“High drama….Helferich [shows] understated eloquence and a lyrical feel both for his legendary crop and the processes by which it is eventually brought to mill.”    –Times Literary Supplement