Chilson got his MFA in creative writing from Pennsylvania State University in 1994. He coordinates the undergraduate creative writing program. His essays and short stories have appeared in The American Scholar, The North American Review, Audubon, Ascent, Creative Nonfiction, High Country News, Rain City Review, West Africa, North Dakota Quarterly and elsewhere. He is a former Fulbright Scholar and associate editor of the environmental journal High Country News. Chilson's first book, RIDING THE DEMON: ON THE ROAD IN WEST AFRICA (University of Georgia Press 1999) won the Associated Writing Programs Award in nonfiction. His second book, DISTURBANCE-LOVING SPECIES: A NOVELLA AND STORIES (Mariner Books 2007), won the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference Fiction Prize. His work has twice appeared in the Best American Travel Writing anthology (the 2003 and 2008 issues). Chilson is working on a third book about African borderlands.
Maria Thomas Fiction Prize (2008), Bread Loaf Writers' Conference Fellow in Fiction Writing (2007), Katherine Bakeless Nason Prize in Short Fiction (2006), Washington State University Buchanan Scholar (2004), Five Pushcart Prize Nominations, Washington State University College of Liberal Arts Fellow (2003), Idaho Commission on the Arts Fellow (2004), Gulf Coast Fiction Prize (2003), Work Chosen for Best American Travel Writing (2003, 2008), Best American Travel Writing Special Citation (2001), Fishtrap Writer in Residence (2000), AWP Book Prize in Nonfiction (1997), Fulbright Scholar in Niger, West Africa (1991-92), Bread Loaf Writers' Conference Scholar in Nonfiction Writing (1991).
Book in Progress:
* WE NEVER KNEW EXACTLY WHERE: STORIES FROM AN AFRICAN BORDERLAND (under contract to University of Nebraska Press).
* DISTURBANCE-LOVING SPECIES: A NOVELLA AND STORIES. Mariner Books. New York: 2007
* RIDING THE DEMON: ON THE ROAD IN WEST AFRICA (Associated Writing Programs 1997 Award Series winner). University of Georgia Press, Athens, Georgia: March 1999
Short fiction, essays, and journalism in:
The American Scholar, Audubon, Ascent, Rain City Review, High Country News, The London Daily Telegraph, West Africa, The North American Review, North Dakota Quarterly, TheSmartSet.com, Creative Nonfiction, Clackamas Review, Gulf Coast, The Long Story, Best American Travel Writing, Exquisite Corpse, Fugue, Grand Tour.
Essays in Anthologies:
* NEAR DEATH IN THE DESERT: TRUE STORIES OF DISASTER AND SURVIVAL ((Vintage 2009)
* BEST AMERICAN TRAVEL WRITING (HOUGHTON MIFFLIN 2003, 2008)
*WRITING THE JOURNEY: ESSAYS, STORIES, AND POEMS ON TRAVEL (Pearson Longman 2005)
* FORGED IN FIRE: ESSAYS BY IDAHO WRITERS (University of Oklahoma Press 2005)
* SPEED: STORIES OF SURVIVAL FROM BEHIND THE WHEEL ( Thunder's Mouth Press 2002)
* CREATIVE NONFICTION: HOW TO LIVE IT AND WRITE IT (Chicago Review Press 1996)
Chilson's work has primarily focused on literary journalism, with an emphasis on Africa and the American West. He is interested in travel writing, the memoir, investigative journalism and fiction. He is also interested in African literature and borderlands studies. He is presently working on a book about African borderlands for University of Nebraska Press.
Chilson coordinates the undergraduate creative writing program, but teaches an array of undergraduate writing courses, including professional writing and editing. His graduate teaching interests include the literature of literary journalism, African literature, borderlands studies, and the pedagogy of teaching creative writing.