Marshall Sophomore Publishes First Book

The cover of Mumblings by Caitlyn Pace

The cover of “Mumblings” by Caitlyn Pace

Rafael Alfonso, Chief Copy Editor

Marshall sophomore Caitlyn Pace recently published her first book, “Mumblings,” which she hopes will bring more positive representation to her home state and the Appalachian region as a whole.

“I hope it allows people to see the diverse collections of stories in Appalachia,” Pace said, “and not just the stereotypes Appalachia is considered by.”

“Mumblings” is an anthology of 13 short stories all inspired by West Virginian folklore. According to Pace, folktales help her to appreciate where she’s from “because West Virginia gets a bad rap.”

“What matters is how you decide to look at where you’re from,” she said.

In celebration of the book’s release, Pace and her publisher The Henlo Press hosted a book launch on Nov. 12 in Huntington’s Cicada Books & Coffee.

The launch featured Pace reading two stories from “Mumblings” followed by a Q&A and an opportunity for attendees to buy and have Pace sign their copy of her book. During the event, attendees also had the chance to have their tarot cards read, buy a warm cup of coffee, eat cookie cake, and compete in a scary story competition for free prizes mostly comprised of art made by local artists.

In fact, promoting local art and artists is an ideal that both Pace and The Henlo Press support. The Henlo Press was founded in West Virginia and specifically had a local artist, Kaitlyn Taylor, draw the cover for Pace’s book.

“I want our state to be seen as more than hillbillies on drugs,” Chandler Haun, editor for The Henlo Press, said. “And art is so important to that. So is writing.”

Pace herself is from Charleston, West Virginia, and drew inspiration from her family and the capitol itself when writing “Mumblings.” The first story she wrote for the anthology, “The Case of Emily Peter,” was inspired by a sign along the Carriage Trail in Charleston that describes two dead bodies found during the trail’s establishment. Meanwhile, she described the story “Papa Doc,” which appears towards the end of the collection, as a “family story” with a strong connection to her great grandfather from Thurmond, West Virginia.

According to Pace, she hopes that “Mumblings” will make Appalachia more accessible to the younger generation.

Haun echoed this sentiment, saying, “I just really feel Caitlyn’s work is going to propel us in this direction of establishing us with the younger folk.”

When asked about the publishing process, Pace said that she was about to give up on publishing “Mumblings” until she went to HerdCon this past spring. There she was introduced to The Henlo Press, and after that she submitted her stories to them. Following three months of waiting, Pace met with the publishers and began working very closely with them in preparing “Mumblings.” She described the publishers as “very accessible.”

“They told me that there’s not a single step that I will not have a say in,” Pace said. “I could not have asked for a better opportunity for my first collection.”

“Caitlyn is our fifth book, and she is our first college student that we’ve published,” Courtney Pierce, founder of The Henlo Press, said.

According to Pierce, she did not know initially that Pace was a college student; however, her work and eagerness stood out.

“She reached out with a beautiful cover letter that made me laugh,” Pierce said.

Now with her book finally out, Pace described the experience by saying, “I have a story out published and not a lot of people my age have done that. That’s really cool.”

As for those looking to publish their own work, Pace quoted the advice of one of her greatest inspirations, Stephen King, in saying, “Read a lot and write a lot.”

For Pace, this means writing for 15 minutes every day and reading the work of “those writers people don’t know about.” She also tries to use social media to interact with other authors writing in the same genre as her.

Meanwhile, when asked for advice to aspiring authors, Pierce said, “Put yourself out there. Be passionate. Don’t let anybody tell you that what you’re doing isn’t good.”

Those interested in purchasing “Mumblings” by Caitlyn Pace can do so on