Novelist Kate Manning to discuss novel ‘Gilded Mountain’ at Explore Booksellers
Gilded Mountain was published Nov. 1, though Kate Manning’s inspiration for the story grew from an image discovered in her family attic many years ago.
Searching through old boxes in her family home, she stumbled upon a photograph of a group of people standing in front of a mountain range titled, “National Retail Monument Dealers at Marble, Colorado 1915.” After asking her father why this strange picture of a place and a people she had never seen before existed in their family history, she learned that the image belonged to her great-grandfather, J.F. Manning.
J.F. Manning, though not featured in the image, was the president of the Colorado Yule Marble Co., the very one that supplied stone to the Lincoln Memorial and the Tomb of Unknown Soldiers in Washington, D.C. — unbeknownst to Kate and her father.
With a curiosity for the lives and hardships of these pick-axe wielding, old-timey workers, said Manning, she pinned the image up in her office and began to research.
Inspired by the stories of the people she researched, she began to write her story.
“I was just in awe of the fortitude of the people and their toughness, and I wondered how people could live then and how they persisted. They were so inspiring — the way they fought for better lives in deep snow and frigid conditions and worked for pennies. So, I started to write a story in which I borrowed a lot of the history of Marble and Redstone for the purposes of fiction,” said Manning.
Initially inspired by the mysterious image, she promised to learn more for the sake of her and her father’s curiosity, but she then saw the importance of the battles these workers were facing with worker’s rights and labor unions. She soon discovered that her great-grandfather was not only the president of the marble company, but also a pioneer in the fight for workers’ rights.
“I think that we need stories about the past because history really is full of holes. What’s missing are the stories of (so-called) ordinary people doing really extraordinary things. It’s about certain groups often left out of textbooks and histories,” said Manning.
She focused her work on the stories of the underrepresented women and people of color of the time. She said she had many challenges finding the stories of women in textbooks and, instead, turned to diaries and letters.
“I hope people understand a little more about the history of the ordinary — and extraordinary — people who aren’t in the textbooks,” said Manning.
Ever since she was a young child, she has been enthralled by fiction and stories.
“I grew up steeped in stories and had a family with a very overactive imagination,” she said.
Her research connected her immediately to the stories of strike, working conditions, and daily life in the mining communities. Working closest with the Marble Historical Society, she is excited to be able to connect with the very community that inspired her.
Working with Explore Booksellers, she said, is a great opportunity to become involved in the Aspen community and the variety of voracious readers who live here.
Manning’s Gilded Mountain is available for sale at Explore Booksellers.
Her discussion will take place Sunday from 4:30-5:30 p.m. at Explore Booksellers on Main Street.
To reach Klara, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Award winning journalist and host of NPR’s “All Things Considered”, Ailsa Chang will be appearing at the Wheeler Opera House on Thursday for “An Evening with Ailsa Chang” Feb. 2 at 6:00 p.m. in conversation with Aspen Public Radio Executive Director, Breeze Richardson, to discuss her career path from lawyer to investigative journalist, representation in media and the importance of public radio.