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St. Louis Authors

May 20, 2020 John O'Leary
Courtesy of John O'Leary

As a 9-year-old, John O’Leary nearly died. He was playing in his garage in St. Louis when he accidentally set off an explosion. He was left with third-degree burns covering his entire body — and even had to have his fingers amputated.

O’Leary recounted the story of his near-death and ultimate survival in his book “On Fire,” which became a national bestseller. And now he’s back with another book: “In Awe: Rediscover Your Childlike Wonder to Unleash Inspiration, Meaning, and Joy.” 

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, O’Leary explained his thesis: that we start life with all the right tools for happiness, only to have childlike senses such as “wonder” and “expectancy” drilled out of us. 

April 14, 2020 Vivian Gibson
Iris Schmidt | Provided by the author

In 1959, the city of St. Louis demolished more than 5,500 housing units in the Mill Creek Valley neighborhood, which stretched from St. Louis University to Union Station. It was the city’s largest urban renewal project — or, as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch called it at the time, "slum clearance."

But for Vivian Gibson and her seven siblings, Mill Creek wasn’t a slum. It was home. Gibson’s new memoir, “The Last Children of Mill Creek,” explores growing up in the bustling African American district, where indoor plumbing wasn’t a given but close connections thrived. The eight siblings and their two parents shared 800 square feet of space, living in Mill Creek until a year before it was razed.   

March 10, 2010 Scott Phillips
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Scott Phillips may be the most acclaimed novelist living in St. Louis today. Best known as the author of “The Ice Harvest,” he’s won the California Book Award and been a finalist for the Edgar Award and the Hammett Prize. 

His ninth book, “That Left Turn at Albuquerque,” finds Phillips in familiar territory, with a crime caper, a cast of amoral characters and plenty of dark humor. On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, he discussed his “deep-seated” interest in crime, his reasons for moving to St. Louis and how his book’s reference to the Loop Trolley has given it special local resonance.

Author Jeff Copeland details the 1924 Los Angeles deadly plague outbreak and its St. Louis connections.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

In September 1924, a shipment from Shanghai unloaded on the docks of Los Angeles brought some unwanted visitors to “the healthy city” – as it was dubbed – namely: rats carrying fleas that had yersinia pestis, a bacteria that causes the plague.

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with St. Louis native and author Jeff Copeland about his new book "Plague in Paradise: The Black Death in Los Angeles, 1924."

St. Louis author Ken McGee talks about his latest historical novel, “The Great Hope of the World.”
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

The construction of the Eads Bridge a century and a half ago almost made St. Louis one of the most important cities in the country. The steel combined road and railway bridge over the Mississippi River brought rail and other traffic from the east to St. Louis and beyond.

The bridge serves as the backstory to St. Louis author Ken McGee’s latest historical novel “The Great Hope of the World.”