'Ain't No Harm to Kill the Devil' by Jeffrey Copeland
Courtesy of Jeffrey Copeland

Among abolitionists, John Fairfield was unique: He was brutal, not above a shootout; he created elaborate ruses to rescue slaves; and he charged for his work.

Fairfield was born in Virginia to a slave-owning family.

“John, as a very young man, had a very dear friend, one of the younger slaves, he grew up with,” said author Jeffrey Copeland . His book “Ain’t No Harm to Kill the Devil: The Life and Legend of John Fairfield, Abolitionist for Hire,” examines Fairfield’s life.

“St. Louis is kind of underappreciated as a literary city,” St. Louis author Ann Leckie said. “There’s the long history, but there’s also plenty of writers who are here now.”

That history, including authors like Maya Angelou and Tennessee Williams, and award-winning authors like Leckie are fueling next weekend’s Lit in the Lou festival.

RA Salvatore

RA Salvatore’s written more than 50 books.  He’s sold more than 17 million. The New York Times best-selling fantasy fiction author met fans and signed books at the Webster Groves Public Library Oct. 2. Earlier that day he answered questions about how real-world events affect his writing practice.

St. Louis Public Radio: You’ve been writing for over 30 years, produced over 50 books, and sold over 17 million copies. How have you maintained your inspiration?

Wikipedia Commons

St. Louis played a key role in the Civil War. Not only was it a significant naval base, but a riot at the edge of town led to the creation of Missouri’s militia and the effects of the war can still be felt today.

Jason Rosenbaum / St. Louis Public Radio

This story was updated following St. Louis on the Air.

Former U.S. Rep. Todd Akin is back, and he’s not sorry.

Two years after losing a contest for U.S. Senate and igniting a “war on women” debate with a comment about rape, Akin has written a book that offers behind-the-scenes details about how he, his campaign and his family coped.

In an August 2012 interview with Charles Jaco on KTVI (Channel 2), Akin was asked about abortion and rape. Akin, who is staunchly anti-abortion, said that a pregnancy from rape “is really rare.”

Romondo Davis

Summer in the city. There’s nothing like it, and no shortage of things to see, do and experience in St. Louis. From parks to concerts and festivals, frozen custard to marionettes, farmers markets to museums, there’s an event (or 20) for everyone.

Author Amanda Doyle has written a second St. Louis guidebook. She said being an outsider affects her view of St. Louis.

“You can’t be born in a place and appreciate everything about it,” she said.

Da Capo Press

Author Martin Goldsmith is no stranger to St. Louis: Not only was he born here, but his mother was a longtime violinist with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. But it was a different St. Louis and a different family connection that recently caught his attention.

In “Alex’s Wake: A Voyage of Betrayal and Journey of Remembrance,” Goldsmith traces the journey of his grandfather, Alex Goldschmidt, and uncle, Helmut Goldschmidt, Jewish refugees who tried to escape Nazi Germany aboard the MS St. Louis. 

Sarah Crowder / courtesy photo

St. Louis author Ridley Pearson is no stranger to the New York Times Bestseller List. But in writing his books (of which there are many) he aspires to more than popularity.

“I try to always put a social issue under my novels without getting on a soap box so that when you end my novel there’s also something you want to go Google or go learn about,” said Pearson. By introducing his readers to social issues such as poaching or the illegal art trade, he hopes he inspires his readers to get involved, talk to their senators or donate money to a good cause.

Disney Publishing Worldwide

Washington, D.C. author Ron Suskind and his wife Cornelia Kennedy were devastated when 2-year-old Owen stopped talking and began walking with a drunken gait.

When, how did their son’s regression begin? “It’s like reviewing clues to a kidnapping,” Suskind writes in “Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism.”

Wm Morrow

When I saw that Tim Townsend had written a book centered on the Lutheran chaplain at the Nuremberg trials, I knew I would read it.

The Rev. Henry Gerecke ended his career in Chester, Ill. There he was assistant pastor of St. John Lutheran Church and the chaplain at the state prison and mental hospital. I graduated from the church’s grade school and relatives work at that prison.

But I have no personal memory of Gerecke. He died the year before we moved from the farm into town. And when we lived on the farm, we went another direction to church.

Courtesy Susan Grigsby

Local children’s authors, who explore topics ranging from Thomas Jefferson to tattletales, will be on hand to discuss and sign their books at two sessions this month at the St. Louis Central Library.

Mark S. Abeln

St. Louis folklorist John Oldani has published a new book on the region's folklore and traditions, this time about the Christmas holiday.

The book, Christmas in St. Louis, includes more than 200 iconic St. Louis Christmas photographs by Mark S. Abeln, as well as historic photos from the archives of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Among the book's highlights are:

(Courtesy Amy Tan)

Recorded Saturday, November 16 at the St. Louis County Library.

Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club and other novels centered on the mother-daughter relationship, visited St. Louis as part of a tour for her new book, The Valley of Amazement.

In front of an audience of several hundred fans, she spoke with St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh about the novel, her writing, her life, and her belief in ghosts.

At a recent academic conference, Michigan State University professor Natalie Phillips stole a glance around the room. A speaker was talking but the audience was fidgety. Some people were conferring among themselves, or reading notes. One person had dozed off.

The extended interview above includes parts one and two of the Morning Edition interview, plus additional material.

J.K. Rowling has a new novel. She's moved away from Harry Potter, the boy wizard whose stories prompted millions of kids to obsess over books big enough to serve as doorstops. Having concluded that series, she's written a novel for grown-ups called The Casual Vacancy, a story of troubled teenagers and their even more troubled parents.

Banning books in schools is nothing new, but a project launched today by the Columbia Missourian examines which Missouri schools challenged which books, and why, since 2008. Check out the project via the link, which includes a map, interactive graphic and more. Some schools from the St. Louis region also make appearances in the data.

Below is the top-ten list of the St. Louis region's best-selling adult and children's books, according to the St. Louis Independent Bookstore Alliance.

For the week ending June 24:


Below is the top-ten list of the St. Louis region's best-selling adult and children's books, according to the St. Louis Independent Bookstore Alliance.

For the week ending May 20:


Below is the top-ten list of the St. Louis region's best-selling adult and children's books, according to the St. Louis Independent Bookstore Alliance.

For the week ending May 13:


Below is the top-ten list of the St. Louis region's best-selling adult and children's books, according to the St. Louis Independent Bookstore Alliance.

For the week ending April 22: