Courtesy of Kate Manning

The Study at Yale hosted a conversation with writer Kate Manning ’79 about her latest book, “Gilded Mountain,” on Tuesday.  

The book talk was hosted for prospective students and their families who were staying at the hotel for Bulldogs Days. The News spoke with Manning about being back on campus, her latest novel and her process for research and character building. Manning highlighted her passion for storytelling, which she said comes as an impulse. Driven by her passion for storytelling, she has navigated through various industries, working in documentary television and journalism. Manning has won two Emmy Awards and has published pieces in The New York Times and The Washington Post. 

“Sometimes you just have this powerful feeling, you see something a certain way and you feel this emotion of ‘I have to tell it. I have to show it,” Manning said. “People see something and they have this human wish to capture what it was like.” 

“Gilded Mountain,” which was published in November, is a historical novel set in a small marble-mining town called Moonstone, Colorado. The story tracks the life of a character named Sylvie Pelletier, and involves themes of wealth, poverty, immigration and freedom of expression. 

At the event, Manning presented a slideshow in which she showed the pictures that inspired the novel. The photos prompted her to pursue research into Colorado history, which she said allowed her to zoom in on little details, looking for the stories of those that have not been told. With research, Manning said she was more able to put herself in the shoes of those in the pictures. 

“Kate is one of those rare writers who sees, hears and loves her characters in all their individuality even as she understands keenly the political and social challenges of their world, ” author Lucy Ferriss wrote to the News. 

Manning said that while researching, she found more information about men and had to dig further to learn about the women who fell more “in the shadows.” She cited a quote by Virginia Woolf saying that “I would as soon have her true history as the hundred and fiftieth life of Napoleon.”

“You have to read between the lines because history has been told as a story of a great man,” Manning said. “You see the world depending on who is telling you the story.”

After researching and analyzing visual stimuli such as the historical photos, Manning said her creative writing flows. She spins stories from these observations and ideas, she said, as if she were having a conversation and making history come alive.

She also shared how happy she was to be back on Yale’s campus, stating that she still knew her way around by instinct. 

Manning transferred from Middlebury College to Yale for her undergraduate degree. She said that while she found the professors at Middlebury more accessible, the students at Yale were what shaped her experience. Her time at Yale even inspired her later creative work, as she said she became interested in labor movements after seeing workers at Yale go on strike in 1977.

The Study hosts regular events in partnership with the Yale Alumni Magazine, showcasing academic and creative pursuits of alumni. Heather Gayatgay, who represents Study Hotels, said that the hotel chain aims to highlight the “personality and heritage” of each University they are located near. The event on Tuesday had around 15 people in attendance. 

“Events like these are inherent within The Study brand,” Gayatgay wrote to the News.“The Study is constantly seeking ways to highlight the accomplishments of the Yale community.  Through continuous dialogue with our University partners, we are always exploring new opportunities.” 

The Study is located at 1157 Chapel Street in New Haven. 

Lua Prado covers education & youth services and immigration & international communities in New Haven and writes the Tuesday Newsletter. Originally from Sergipe, Brazil, she is a sophomore in Jonathan Edwards College, double majoring in Political Science and English.