By Paige Gilberg
Contributor to The Underground
On April 11, 2018, author Kathleen Rooney visited the American Writers Museum to celebrate the paperback launch of her newest novel, Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk. On December 31, 1984, Lillian Boxfish strolls through Manhattan, recalling events from her past and confronting the realities of a changing America.
Rooney, an English and Creative Writing professor at DePaul, has published a variety of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction works. Her most recent book, Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk, is a national bestseller. Published in 2017 by St. Martin’s Press, the novel has also received glowing reviews from the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, Booklist, and other notable publications.
Wednesday’s event began with Rooney reading from the first chapter of Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk, titled “The Road of Anthracite.” The reading was followed by a Q&A session, facilitated by AWM program director Allison Sansone. The night closed with a book signing.
Rooney drew an impressive crowd and provided great insights on her writing process for Lillian Boxfish and beyond. She discussed Margaret Fishback, the highest-paid female copywriter of the 1930s and the inspiration for the novel’s protagonist. Other topics discussed included her interactions with Fishback’s son during the editing process and her publishing work with Rose Metal Press.
When asked where Lillian would fit in at present day, Rooney took some time to think. She determined that she would be an excellent cultural critic, maybe even a writer for VICE.
As for what’s next, Rooney shared that she has completed a collections of stories titled The Listening Room. She also shared that she is currently working on a WWI story about US Army officer Charles Whittlesey.