University of Pittsburgh
October 7, 2004

Prominent Travel Writers to Be Featured on Panel At Pitt's Contemporary Writers Season Oct. 13 Event

Panelists are Tom Haines, James O'Reilly, and Kate Wheeler
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH—A Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series panel discussion, featuring travel writers Tom Haines of The Boston Globe, James O'Reilly of Travelers' Tales Publishing, and Kate Wheeler of The New York Times and Outside, will be held at 6 p.m. Oct. 13 in the University of Pittsburgh Cathedral of Learning's Room 501, 4200 Fifth Ave., Oakland.

Haines is the staff travel writer at The Boston Globe. He spent much of the past decade as a news reporter, traveling to Microsoft's manicured campus, the depths of a Ukrainian coal mine, and the explosive streets of Basque country. His reporting about economic change in Wales won the top prize of the Journalists in Europe Foundation in Paris, where he was a fellow in 2000. As the Globe's travel writer, Haines has covered plummeting pesos in Argentina, guns and cricket in Guyana, and trumpets and nationalism in rural Serbia. Last year, the Society of American Travel Writers named him Travel Journalist of the Year. His story about an Ethiopian village facing famine appears in the 2004 edition of The Best American Travel Writing.

A native of Ben Avon, Pa., Haines is a 1986 graduate of Avonworth High School. He received the Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Dartmouth College and the Master of Arts degree in journalism from the University of California at Berkeley. He lives near Boston with his wife and son.

O'Reilly was born in Oxford, England, and later emigrated to the United States. He grew up in San Francisco, where he was taught by nuns, Jesuits, and assorted yogis and eccentrics in the '60s. He traveled a great deal with his family—to Ireland, England, Scotland, and Canada—before heading off to Dartmouth College, where, among other things, he spent a semester in Salamanca, Spain.

At Dartmouth, O'Reilly met Larry Habegger, with whom he has collaborated since 1982 on projects ranging from radio shows to mystery serials, newspaper and magazine columns to world adventure travel. Since 1985, O'Reilly and Habegger

have coauthored the nationally syndicated travel column "World Travel Watch." In 1993, they cofounded the publishing company Travelers' Tales with O'Reilly's brother, Tim, and have since worked on more than 80 books together, winning many awards for excellence, including the prestigious Lowell Thomas Award for outstanding travel book. O'Reilly has been an active member of the Society of American Travel Writers since 1990.

He has visited more than 40 countries and lived in four. Among O'Reilly's favorite travel memories are visiting headhunters in Borneo, rafting the legendary Zambezi River in Zimbabwe, enjoying a meal cooked by blowtorch in Tibet, taking a birthday stroll to Mt. Everest, and hanging out laundry with nuns in Florence. He lives in Palo Alto, Calif., with his wife, Wenda.

Born in Oklahoma in 1955, Wheeler won her first short story contest in third grade for a tale of finding pirate gold. She earned the Bachelor of Arts degree in English and fine arts from Rice University in 1977 and went to work for The Miami Herald. She earned the Master of Arts degree in creative writing at Stanford University, in 1981, in Stanford's Creative Writing program. She won an O. Henry Award and a Pushcart Prize for stories written there, and eventually produced other stories in her first collection, Not Where I Started From (Houghton Mifflin, 1993). Because her writing was interrupted with so much travel, she was slow in completing her first book. But, after it was published, she was able to get travel writing assignments, working for The New York Times and Outside, as she researched her novel, When Mountains Walked (Houghton Mifflin, 2000). She lives in Somerville, Ma., with David Guss, an anthropologist. She intersperses travel and fiction with a third occupation, teaching Buddhist meditation.

The Contemporary Writers Series is cosponsored by the Wyndham Garden Hotel-University Place, Pitt's Center for Latin American Studies, University Center for International Studies, The Book Center, and the University of Pittsburgh Press.