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Parkway Schools grad, bestselling author James Rollins discusses ‘The Seventh Plague,’ his 33rd book

"The Seventh Plague," by James Rollins.

A Parkway School District and Mizzou Veterinary School grad, James Rollins, is a bestselling author of over 30 books, including the Tucker Wayne and Jake Ransom novels. He recently released his 33rd book, “The Seventh Plague,” the next book in the Sigma series.

On Tuesday, he joined St. Louis on the Air to discuss the novel, his writing process and how he has managed to become such a prolific author in so little time.

“The Seventh Plague” blends scientific intrigue and historical mystery as he explores the idea of whether the biblical plagues — if they ever existed in the first place — could come back in the modern world.

“The story starts when an archaeologist comes stumbling out of the Egyptian dessert, he’s been missing for two years, vanished without a trace, but when he comes out of that, he passes away,” Rollins said. “But his body offers some tantalizing clues. Number one, his body is partially mummified. Number two, his body seems to be harboring a plague virus.”

That’s where the Sigma Force comes in: Painter Crowe, the director of the force, heads to Egypt to investigate.

“The seed from this story came from the fact that humankind has been afflicted by these rolling series of plagues: the Black Death in Europe, and then the Spanish Flu, and then the AIDS virus,” said Rollins. “The seed from this came from the Zika virus.”

Rollins spent many years as a veterinarian before becoming a writer, which he said has influenced how he writes his books more and more.

He said he researches a book for 90 days and then takes six months to write a first draft. At the same time, he is writing a draft for the next novel. This pace has allowed him to publish two books a year for quite some time and, for the last three years, he has published three books a year.

It takes Rollins about an hour to write a page and he tried to write five pages day. After about five hours of writing, he said he is ready for a recharge—which is where the research for the next book comes in.

Learn more about Rollins’ writing process and background by listening to the full interview here:

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region. 

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Kelly Moffitt joined St. Louis Public Radio in 2015 as an online producer for St. Louis Public Radio's talk shows St. Louis on the Air.