Meet and Read with a Missouri Celebrity Author, Ron A. Austin
St. Louis native Ron A. Austin held a book reading Tuesday, Oct. 1 in Glenn Auditorium, that touched on his life growing up in St. Louis with his ambitious grandparents and daunting family ties.
English and Creative writing students editorializing Austin’s stories read that evening, as well as professors in their department. Afterward, Austin held a Q and A segment, along with a book signing.
Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing James Brubaker is a personal friend of Austin, and was pleased with the attendance of the event he helped set up. Brubaker is also the Director of University Press at Southeast and helped Austin publish “Avery Colt Is a Snake, A Thief, A Liar,” the book he read during Tuesday’s event.
“We try to have these guest appearances twice a year, once each semester,” Brubaker said. “I think the students get bored of hearing from just us professor's lecture in the classroom.”
A number of students had already read and brought their own copies of Austin’s book to be signed. Afterward, they were able to have their books signed and get a few words in with the author about what they are working on.
Austin was pleased with the questions and concepts the students were able to talk once he allowed. He noticed how intuitive they were of his thinking process that differed from book to book.
“It’s interesting, the different directions you can take creative writing,” Austin said. “I think when people are first starting off with the craft there are only one or two when there are many different ways to go about it.”
Austin took it upon himself to write about stories based off his childhood growing up in St. Louis. In his most recent storybook he references his love and admiration for his grandparents and their shop. His stories are described as cutting to the heart by the way he describes growing up and navigating family ties.
Brubaker thinks highly of the type of friend Austin is, and he recalls Austin reaching out to him at the beginning of the semester to ask how his classes were going to be.
“I learned that he is one of the kindest, most generous writers I’ve ever encountered,” Brubaker said. “He enthusiastically supports other writers and his dedication to literacy citizenship is impressive.”
This dedication started young. Austin recalls wanting to be a writer since the age of 15. He said by the time he entered college all of his friends who wanted to be fireman had already outgrown their dreams.
“If I said I wanted to be a fireman back then,” Austin said, “then I would probably be in a burning building right about now.”
Instead, he is receiving accolades with his Masters of Fine Arts degree from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, with stories entered in Pleiades, Story Quarterly, Ninth Letter, Black Warrior Review, Midwestern Gothic, and Juked, among others.
More honors Austin has accumulated accounts for his time served as editor for December and River Styx. He was also the 2016 Regional Art Commission Fellow and has taught creative writing at the Pierre Laclede Honors College. Today, he is continuing to be inspired to write more short stories.