The Conjurer & Other Azorean Tales

My dad (Darrell Kastin) has a new short story collection that came out this past December and lots of exciting things have been in the works so I thought I would share them with you 🙂

The collection is called The Conjurer & Other Azorean Tales (you can order it here) and it is filled with magic, poetry, humor and saudade. Here’s the official description:

Etched from the fertile volcanic soil and the sea and mists surrounding the Azorean islands, the characters who inhabit these stories merge realism with magic. Like the nine Muses, each island has its own special attributes. Whether searching for love, power or meaning, these characters are subject to the whims of Fate and Fortune. Here the commonplace present confronts forces both natural and supernatural. Taking place in the Azorean microcosm, they come to represent a far larger and wider sphere, depicting the foibles and idiosyncrasies of humanity the world over.

If you’re curious to know more about the Azores and my dad’s relationship with the islands you can read this article he wrote on the RTP blog, “The Other Realm, Writing about the Azores“. Here’s a little snippet:

We no longer think of mysteries pervading the landscape. They’ve all been chased away by skyscrapers and television, by computers, automobiles, and cell phones. For example, people no longer go off in search of mysterious islands of Gold or Women, remote havens that went by many names, but which can be summed up by The Fortunate Islands. Islands that rose and sank, elusive, just out of reach, fading into the mists from which they appeared.

We think the only mysteries left are in space, or perhaps in the deepest trenches of the oceans, not in our own backyards. But there are other places, realms in which things can’t be readily explained away as fancy or delusions. And the Azores is a place that lends itself to mystery.

You can also check out these two interviews: “Beauty of the Azores inspires collection of short stories” and “Darrell Kastin: His allure of the Azores and his work in progress– Interview“.

If you’re curious to read one of the short stories check out “Constança’s War with the Elements“.

Also, my dad’s going to be at a couple of events in the next few months. He’ll be at the LAEF XXXVII Annual Conference, March 22-23, CA State University Stanislaus (in Turlock). He’ll be participating in the workshop led by Frank Sousa to discuss Portuguese-American authors writing in English.

And July 25-27 he’ll be at Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana, to attend the international conference Exploring the Portuguese Diaspora in InterDisciplinary and Comparative Perspectives.

And finally, if you want to keep up with events and updates and that sort of thing, “like” his new facebook author page!

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Writing Away And A Book Cover

This is just to say that I’ve been working away on my novel and my lecture and cooking a ton of food from scratch so I don’t have as much time right now to blog about anything particularly interesting. My advisor really loves the new third person I’m playing with, which I’m very pleased about, and she wants me to keep moving forward in the story for now, so that’s what I’m doing. We need to have 75 pages of our creative thesis to graduate and right now I have about 95 pages (I am trying to get through the whole draft for my own sinister purposes). My goal is to get to 30,000 words by the end of the third packet. We’ll see how that goes. It feels really good to move forward at this point because it gives me a glimpse of the bigger picture of the story, the structure, as it were, instead of only writing and revising in smaller chunks. I’m trying to just speed through right now to get the words down (because it is so tempting to stop and edit every single word) and then I’ll go back and to get those same words to suck less, lol.

I really need to spend some time on my lecture, too. I’m toying with the idea of using powerpoint and it’s been ages since I’ve even looked at powerpoint, so I think some brushing up is in order. I have a rough draft/outline of my lecture written out, but I’d really like to get a more final version done. I’m going to be using a lot of exercise examples, too, so I’ve got to write those out and then hope my lecture doesn’t end up being two hours long 😉

Anyway, that’s all for now. But before I go I just wanted to show you all the official cover for my dad’s new short story collection coming out through Tagus Press this fall. Doesn’t it look lovely?

My Dad Has A New Book Coming Out!!!!

Whew! Packet 2 is in and I’m taking a much needed break to do things like clean off my desk, lol 🙂 But I have an exciting announcement to make. My dad’s new short story collection “The Conjurer and Other Tales” is coming out this fall from Tagus Press. If you enjoyed his first novel, “The Undiscovered Island“, are interested in Portugal and the Azores, or just love magic realism I think you’ll really like this collection.

Here’s the official description:

The Azores––an archipelago of magic and beauty in the Mid-Atlantic––is the unique setting and inspiration for this collection.

The people who inhabit these stories are etched from the fertile, volcanic soil, the sea, and the atmosphere surrounding the nine islands; like the nine Muses each island has its own special attributes. Whether love, power, or meaning is their quest, these characters find themselves subject to the whims of Fate and Fortune. Here, the prosaic present is suddenly confronted by opposing forces and realities. While these stories take place in the microcosm of the Azores, they represent a much larger, wider sphere, reflecting the foibles and idiosyncrasies of humanity the world over.

Hopefully I’ll have more details on the release date soon 🙂

A Feast of Prose and Poetry

I just finished reading my dad’s novel so I thought I would post a review of it here and on Amazon.

“The Undiscovered Island” by Darrell Kastin is a rich tapestry of Portuguese history and poetry, myth and legend, philosophical musings on art and love, and good old-fashioned mystery.

Set on the Azores Islands, “The Undiscovered Island” tells the story of Julia Castro, a young Azorean-American who returns to the islands of her ancestors in search of her father, Sebastiao, who has disappeared amid a number of mysterious circumstances; a ghost ship is seen out at sea, a luminescent woman is said to walk the shores, leading men to their deaths, the islands are rocked by earthquakes and a new island rises from the sea.

Julia soon finds herself reading through her father’s papers — historical records chronicling the many misadventures and tragedies experienced by her ancestors, as well as strange stories about a mysterious island said to be governed by the fates. As she attempts to decipher the clues her father may have left her as to his whereabouts, the lines between fantasy and reality blur in a dramatic conclusion in which the past and the present collide.

Part homage to the magic of the Azores and part love story, this book is sure to appeal to those readers of Marquez, Borges and Zafon who enjoy evocative prose and layered stories that invite multiple readings.

The book can be bought here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1933227230/ref=cm_pdp_rev_itm_img_1

or ordered through Small Press Distribution at your local bookstore.

A wonderful quote from The Undiscovered Island

I’ve been reading through my dad’s novel, which is slow going because it’s like eating a hearty meal. You want to savor everything. And I came across this beautiful passage that I thought I would post here, and which, in my opinion, epitomizes this book.

“‘Life is the dream we spin as we grow, constructing illusions around us, illusions which separate us from others, which tie us to still others, illusions upon which we stand, and which represent who and what we are… What is reality when compared to the illusions that defy and overleap our limitations, our fears, illusions which can lift us up from the dark, the lower regions wherein we cheapen and shortchange ourselves? Anti-illusion is anti-art, a return to the base, to the superstitious, the primitive, to fear. It is, in effect anti-love — life pared down to the level of pure instinct — while love is our greatest artistic expression, as both the ultimate object and the medium.

“How desperate our need is for the delusions and fantasies by which we sustain our hopes and dreams; no matter that these fancies may not represent reality, or exist in the ‘ real world,’ for there is a separate reality of the heart, mind, spirit and soul, which without these wisps and figments can only wither. One’s life should be a search for the highest of these ideals, the unmappable regions of love, the imagination, the impossible.

“I make up a story, amend the facts I find in recollection, in order to portray an essence, a truth that can’t be found and stated in any other way… what is reality stripped bare? Facts, numbers, dates, cold and dead to life, like a barren rock, a grain of sand, with no perspective of human relationship, or even of how that grain of sand relates to a beach, the sea, or an island; a life without poetry, without art. It is better to reach for the impossible, to fight against entropy and limitations; better to know we are composed of star-stuff, of the same planet we inhabit, of all life therein, that we in fact contain all the universe within ourselves. Imagination alone can make us what we may become.'”

we’ve been trying to brainstorm ways that we can promote this book so that more people read it, or, at the very least, know of its existence. The irony is my dad’s been spending more money just trying to get the book out to people than he’s ever going to get from the publisher.

It makes me sad because when I read this book I truly believe that he’s written something miraculous, a great work. I know artists of all stripes love to remind themselves and each other that great work is rarely appreciated during the lifetime of the artist who creates it, and I wonder if that is to be the fate of this book. I wonder if I, in my autumn years, will live to see this book garner the attention it deserves. How odd that would be, and how bittersweet, and how ironic.