Investigative reporter and author Kerry Howley is no stranger to controversy when it comes to telling a story.
Howley recently spoke on the Waldorf University campus as part of its distinguished writers lecture series.
She is the author of "Thrown," a book about top-level MMA cage fighters. It was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year
In addition, to reading passages from her book "Thrown," Howley discussed her current writing project, “Reality Winner,” as well as her experiences in the journalistic world.
Reality Winner is the young woman who leaked military intelligence related to Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
To write this new expose, Howley said had to gain access to Winner in a top-security prison. Her initial essay was featured in the widely-read New York Magazine.
Tim Bascom, who hosted the event, said each year the university tries to bring two distinguished writers on campus.
“I would say it seems that [Howley], unlike Norwegian Lutherans, is not shy,” he said. “She might be, a little bit, but not shy about going up to some of these figures who are difficult to talk to, people who might not actually want the exposure that goes with this kind of conversation.”
“Reality Winner” is about a woman who printed a document she thought was evidence of Russian interference in the presidential election and is now in prison for espionage.
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“What interested me about this story was how she came to that place,” Howley said. “How does someone with this personality profile…whose very kind of quirky and liberal in a very complicated way – how does that woman at 25 end up on the other side, and what would have pushed her to the point where she would put her whole life on the line to share this document with the rest of us?”
Howley said Huffman and Winner were the two most interesting people she’s ever written about and that she was attracted to them because they are nonconformists.
“They’re just not interested in going with the flow, and that leads to some really difficult and strange and hard-to-understand decisions a lot of times, but I think it makes them feel alive and interesting and kind of worth being around,” she said.
Howley said she was interested in MMA cage fighting, which led her to write Thrown.
“It’s just like a pattern that builds up on its own,” she said.
However, despite not being really interested in sports, Howley said she wouldn’t rather write about something else because she likes when “ideas drop out of the sky” and having no bailiffs or presupposition about it makes it exciting.
When she pieces together a story, Howley said she knows exactly how she wants her reader to feel.
“I want to give the reader an experience, and I’m revealing certain information so that it’s pleasurable to get that information,” she said.