My piece on how I found amazing polar archives in Ohio. Ohio?

How an Author Used the Polar Archives in Ohio to Write about an Antarctic Stowaway

A few months after I began to research The Stowaway, my narrative non-fiction book about the teen stowaway on Byrd’s first expedition, I thought I had enough material to write my book. In March of 2013, I had stumbled upon the story while researching the history of St. Stanislaus Church in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, which is the first Polish Catholic church in all five boroughs of the Big Apple. The stowaway, William “Billy” Gawronski, and his family were parishioners there, and I located the records of Billy’s celebration by the church.

Read the full story

Large print edition of The Stowaway will be published this month by Thorndike Press

stowaway-large-printWonderful adventure story for adults! Great page-turner for middle readers and young adults, as well!

A spectacular, true story of a scrappy teenager from New York’s Lower East Side who stowed away on the Roaring Twenties’ most remarkable feat of science and daring: an expedition to Antarctica. Releasing in April in our Narrative and Popular Nonfiction plan.

Order your large print copy today!

So Honored to Moderate a “Persistence” Panel at the PEN World Voices Festival

Back in 1988? (I believe the year) I was a high school volunteer for the first Pen World Voices festival held in NYC and had the great thrill to get Kurt Vonnegut a sandwich and Norman Mailer a coffee! Moving on up! Very honored and thrilled to be moderating a panel for PEN America and PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature on the theme of persistence! April 21 5pm-630 at Dixon Place – I hope you will come – PLEASE COME! This is my favorite festival of the year – and the rest of the line up is really superb.

April 21, 2018
5:00 PM-6:30 PM
Dixon Place
161A Chrystie Street, New York, NY 10002

More info

Where do people find the inner resources, the determination, the doggedness and the sheer physical wherewithal to keep going in the face of adversity and torment? Each of these writers tells compelling stories of epic feats of persistence. Sharon Bala’s boatload of Sri Lankan refugees lands in Canada but instead of receiving sanctuary, they are imprisoned because of fears that their group includes terrorists; their quest for freedom moves to the courts. In Without a Country, Ayse Kulin’s characters flee Nazi Germany and find safe haven in Turkey. But that safety evaporates for their descendants as military coups and encroaching anti-Semitism threaten their future in the place they call home. Marcos Aguinis tells the extraordinary story of the Jewish intellectual who resisted the tortures of the Spanish Inquisitors in 17th-century South America and fought to retain his faith. The common theme is the almost superhuman effort of individuals to persist in the face of danger and death. They talk to Laurie Gwen Shapiro, author of The Stowaway: A Young Man’s Extraordinary Adventure to Antarctica about the almost superhuman effort of individuals to persist in the face of danger and death.

My Interview with the Forward

How A Teenage ‘Shabbos Goy’ Stowed Away On America’s First Antarctic Exploration

Teenagers dream about running away. They always have; they likely always will; often, when they do, the results are decidedly weird. (See: Haight-Ashbury circa the 1960s.)

But there’s packing a knapsack and setting out for the Summer of Love, and then there’s swimming across a major river intending to hitch a ride on a boat to Antarctica. In August of 1928, Billy Gawronski, the son of Polish Catholic immigrants, a Yiddish-speaking former “Shabbos goy” and a library-frequenting fan of adventure tales, did just that.

Read the interview at the Forward

Thrilled to be interviewed by Jonathan Capehart at WNYC

One Teenager’s Adventure from Queens to Antarctica in 1928

Laurie Gwen Shapiro talks about her new book The Stowaway: A Young Man’s Extraordinary Adventure to AntarcticaShe tells the story of Billy Gawronski, a first generation New York City high schooler in 1928 desperate to escape a dreary future in the family upholstery business, who jumped into the Hudson River and stowed away on a ship bound for an expedition to Antarctica.

Hear the interview at

Excited to be interviewed at Shelf Awareness, one of my favorite literary online sites

Laurie Gwen Shapiro: An Antarctic Adventure

Laurie Gwen Shapiro is a fiction writer, award-winning documentary filmmaker and journalist whose writing has appeared in New York magazine, Slate, the Forward and the Los Angeles Review of Books, among others. In The Stowaway: A Young Man’s Extraordinary Adventure to Antarctica (just published by Simon & Schuster), her first foray into book-length nonfiction, Shapiro recounts the true story of Billy Gawronski, a scrappy and determined teenager growing up in 1920s New York who sneaks onto a ship bound for the southernmost continent.

Read the full interview at