Register to attend the 2017 S.B. Writers Conference

View the 2107 Schedule (7.5 Mb)

Avoid clich├ęs like the plague . . .

- Jerry Camarillo Dunn

SwirlStaff: Click on the workshop leaders' photos to see more about each one.

Benjamin Sutherland

SBWC Workshops:

Compelling Nonfiction

Favorite Books:

Those by Albert Camus, Jorge Luis Borges, Chimo, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Herman Hesse, Robert Kaplan, Vladimir Nabokov, Pablo Neruda, Octavio Paz, and Dr. Seuss.

Writing tip I live by:

Don’t write a text, build it. Approaching writing as construction makes it easier to produce prose that is lean, nicely sequenced, and authoritative. And that’s what makes for a compelling read.

Benjamin Sutherland

About Me

A writer for the newsweekly The Economist, I report mainly from the United States and Europe. I also teach, part-time, graduate and undergraduate students in crafting nonfiction, the mechanics of narrative, and geopolitics at schools including HEC, a grande école near Paris serially ranked Europe’s top business university by The Financial Times, and, in Turin, Italy, Scuola Holden. The latter was founded by best-selling Italian novelist Alessandro Baricco to offer writing and storytelling instruction that the Holden Caulfield of JD Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye” would have loved.

A book I edited and partially wrote for The Economist, “Modern Warfare, Technology and Deterrence,” has also been translated into Chinese and published by Xinhua. Previously, as an editor and writer at COLORS magazine, I co-wrote “Cacas: The Encyclopedia of Poo,” a book published in various editions and four languages by Taschen and Leonardo Arte. My experience includes five years writing for Newsweek and a year as a staff screenwriter at Cinemarket, a Paris production company. I co-directed “Portrait of a Bookstore as an Old Man,” an award-winning documentary filmed in France, Morocco, and California. The 52-minute film about Shakespeare and Company, a bookshop-commune in Paris, was purchased by the Sundance Channel and six other broadcasters worldwide. Santa Barbara is my hometown.

What I require of my students

My students should be prepared to take notes, as well as to think quickly and laterally, the better to enrich class discussions. Students should bring one or more samples of nonfiction writing that, preferably, has yet to be published. Above all, they should enjoy themselves.

My advice for writers who have never attended SBWC

Come and enjoy the conference’s friendly and stimulating atmosphere in a beautiful California beach town.