Author Steve Berry

An author and philanthropist whose first ten books have all been on the national best-seller list is making his first trip to Iowa this week, promoting the new novel he hopes will be #11.

Steve Berry writes fictional thrillers and does in-depth research to weave in bits of non-fictional history. The formula works as he has 14-million books in print in 40 languages and in 51 countries.

Berry’s new novel, “The Columbus Affair,” is set in current day but zeroes in on famed explorer Christopher Columbus — and something Berry discovered about him.

“We don’t know where he was born, where he was raised, where he was educated, how he became an expert seaman. We don’t know what he looked like. We don’t know how he got to the New World. We don’t even know what happened when he got here because the journal of Columbus is a copy of a copy,” Berry says. “There’s just complete mystery associated with this man. Then, there’s this other secret, this really interesting thing that I stumbled across. I wish I could tell you about it but it would give away the whole book.”

Berry’s giving a free lecture in Des Moines on Thursday, while he and his wife are leading a special class for wanna-be novelists on Saturday.

“We’re going to be teaching, Elizabeth and I, a four-hour workshop on the craft of writing and it’s a very intense workshop,” Berry says. “We talk about story structure, point of view, dialogue, dos and don’ts, all of the things that go into the craft of writing.”

Berry’s first book, “The Amber Room,” was rejected by publishers 85 times. The 86th attempt landed him his first national best-seller.

In his travels, Berry says he’s seen how many of the world’s treasures are in decay due to a lack of funding for preservation. He and his wife created the organization “History Matters,” which raises money for a variety of historic preservation projects.

He’s donating all proceeds from the Des Moines workshop to a state landmark, Terrace Hill, the Iowa Governor’s Mansion.

“We’ve raised about $200,000 for various historic projects around the country, doing workshops and galas like we’ll be doing there in Iowa,” Berry says. “It’s just part of our effort to give back and to foster our interest in history. We both have a great interest in that and want to do what we can.”

Berry’s a Georgia native but lives in St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest city in America.

His lecture is Thursday at 7 PM at the Scottish Consistory in Des Moines, while the workshop on Saturday is from 10 AM to 4 PM at the Des Moines Public Library.

Learn more at