Episode 158: Kathleen Rooney

AWM Author Talks
AWM Author Talks
Episode 158: Kathleen Rooney

This week, author Kathleen Rooney discusses her new book From Dust to Stardust, a novel about Hollywood, the cost of stardom, and selfless second acts, inspired by an extraordinary true story. Rooney is joined by writer and lecturer Ignatius Aloysius. This conversation originally took place September 6, 2023 and was recorded live at the American Writers Museum.

About From Dust to Stardust:

Chicago, 1916. Doreen O’Dare is fourteen years old when she hops a Hollywood-bound train with her beloved Irish grandmother. Within a decade, her trademark bob and insouciant charm make her the preeminent movie flapper of the Jazz Age. But her success story masks one of relentless ambition, tragedy, and the secrets of a dangerous marriage.

Her professional life in flux, Doreen trades one dream for another. She pours her wealth and creative energy into a singular achievement: the construction of a one-ton miniature Fairy Castle, the likes of which the world has never seen. So begins Doreen’s public tour to lift the nation’s spirits during the Great Depression―and a personal journey worth remembering.

A sweeping journey from the dawn of the motion picture era through turbulent twentieth-century America, From Dust to Stardust is a breathtaking novel about one determined woman navigating change, challenging the price of fame, and sharing the gift of real magic.

KATHLEEN ROONEY is a founding editor of Rose Metal Press, a nonprofit publisher of literary work in hybrid genres, as well as a founding member of Poems While You Wait, a collective of poets and their vintage typewriters who compose poetry on demand. Her most recent books include the novels Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk and Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey. Her poetry collection Where Are the Snows won the 2021 X. J. Kennedy Prize and was published by Texas Review Press in fall of 2022. She is a winner of the Ruth Lilly Prize from Poetry magazine and the Adam Morgan Literary Citizen Award from the Chicago Review of Books, and her criticism appears in the New York Times, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Brooklyn Rail, Chicago magazine, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and elsewhere. She lives in Chicago with her spouse, the writer Martin Seay, and teaches English and creative writing at DePaul University.

Twice Pushcart nominated, IGNATIUS VALENTINE ALOYSIUS earned his MFA in Creative Writing from Northwestern University, where he won the Distinguished Thesis Award for fiction and is a lecturer in writing and experimentation there. A 2020-21 Creative Writing Fellow for the Ludington Writers Board and the Ludington Area Center for the Arts in Michigan, Ignatius is the author of the literary novel Fishhead. Republic of Want (Tortoise Books, 2020), and his prose and poetry have appeared in or are forthcoming in Cold Mountain Review, Olney Magazine, Thanatos Review, Roi Fainéant Press, Trampset, Tofu Ink Arts Press, and the Coalition for Digital Narratives, among other venues. He is a host and curator of the long-running reading series Sunday Salon Chicago, and he serves on the curatorial and diversity boards at Ragdale Foundation, an arts residency in Lake Forest, Illinois. Ignatius lives in Evanston and is a mayor-appointed board member of the Evanston Arts Council.

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