Literary festival hosts New York author

By Marissa Novel

The guest speaker attending the Devil’s Kitchen Literary Festival is not unlike many SIU students. Her resume however, includes being published by the Guardian and Vice, among others.

The 15th-annual festival, hosted by Grassroots magazine, will begin with a reading from Kathleen Hale, an author from New York City, at 8 a.m. Wednesday in the John C. Guyon Auditorium.

Hale is the author of “No One Else Can Have You” and “Nothing Bad is Going to Happen,” as well as non-fiction for magazines. In her works, she delivers quirky quips followed by a sobering dose of honesty.


Shaylin Carlton, the editor-in-chief of Grassroots, the university’s undergraduate literary magazine, said Hale was invited based off faculty adviser Pinckney Benedict’s recommendation.

“It’s a very collective process,” she said. “This year Pinckney chose Kathleen Hale with a lot of pressure from Grassroots as well because we really wanted to meet her.”

Benedict said Hale was chosen because her age is close to many undergraduate students and younger than most graduate students.

“She speaks the same language that our undergraduate and graduate students speak for instance, in a way that I and people my age tend not to,” he said.

He said she was also invited because she was briefly a student here and is familiar with the area.

Hale said she has been writing since childhood.

“My first story was about tigers escaping the circus by eating all the clowns,” she said. “People were disturbed. They still are.”


She said she seeks inspiration in taking risks and often finds herself divulging personal secrets within her stories.

“My aim is always to tell stories that entertain,” she said. “If I can talk about how the Internet cultivates obsession in a way that reads like a horror story, then I’ve done my job.”

Hale’s work is a recent topic of a blogger and book reviewer debate, after her article “‘Am I being catfished?’ An author confronts her number one online critic” was published to The Guardian’s website Friday.

The story follows Hale as she indulges in the widely discouraged act of reading a nasty review by an infamous Internet bully on her first novel. She then spirals into a 21st century rabbit hole of sorts, stalking the reviewer on multiple social media platforms and eventually in person. Hale finds the reviewer is a “catfish,” or someone portraying a false Internet identity.

Hale said although the situation is difficult, it led to a rewarding moment in her career, being the third most read author on The Guardian two consecutive days.

“This came with its fair share of [criticism] from people who didn’t read the piece and have little-to-no understanding of journalism,” she said. “So that was hard, but I’m getting used to feedback of all kinds.”

Carlton said the festival is also hosting Steven D. Schroeder and Victoria Redel, the 2014 winners of the Devil’s Kitchen Reading Awards in Poetry and Prose among other visiting authors.

The festival schedule can be found online on Grassroots’ website