Darrell Kastin

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 🙂


Awards and Articles and Celebrations, Oh My!

While we were away The Undiscovered Island won a medal from the Independent Publisher Book Award (IPPY) in Multicultural Fiction category!

Here is the official info:
We are pleased to announce that Darrell Kastin’s novel The
Undiscovered Island published in 2009 by the Center for Portuguese
Studies and Culture, in our Portuguese in the Americas Series, has won
the silver medal in the 2010 Independent Publisher Book Awards for
Multicultural Fiction.

Medals were presented at a gala ceremony in New York City on May 25.
The "IPPY" Awards, launched in 1996, are designed to bring increased
recognition to the deserving but often unsung titles published by
independent authors and publishers. Congratulations to our author. For
all the winners go to their website at

The Undiscovered Island, which was sponsored in part by the Government
of the Autonomous Region of the Azores (Carlos Cesar, President), is the
twelfth volume of the Portuguese in the Americas Series. The Series
documents the variety and complexity of the Portuguese-American
experience by publishing books in the social sciences, history and
literature. For more information visit:

Unfortunately, we couldn’t be at the ceremony because we were busy being driven mad recording a CD.

Also, there is someone from the Azores did a review of my dad’s book, a very long, lovely review that was published in one of the local papers on the island of Terceira. He is also hoping to publish it in the literary review Letras, which would be amazing because Letras is one of the main literary journals in Portugal. The hope is that someone there might see it and want to translate the book. We seem to have hit a snag on that point, though. A woman from the consulate who saw us perform was very excited about his book and wanted to give us the info of someone who might be able to start the translation process, but when she found out my dad isn’t affiliated with any universities she said there was nothing she could do for us. I really HOPE that isn’t the case. I really HOPE Portugal has more class than that. I guess we will see. There also may be a possibility that at some point my dad will do some readings on the Azores (how cool is that?) and some more in Massachusetts, specifically at the Casa da Saudade (the only public Portuguese library in the country and the place that my stepmom worked before my dad swept her away to the West coast).

There’s also an interview online with my dad in Portuguese. I know most people probably won’t be able to read it but I thought I’d post it anyway.

Congrats paisinho!!!


Apparently I should look myself up on the internet more often…

I have more info about the May 6th book presentation/performance, thanks to the UMass Dartmouth library news blog!

We will be in the Prince Henry Society Reading Room, Ferreira-Mendes Portuguese American Archives & Special Collections, Claire T. Carney Library, UMass Dartmouth. Wow, isn’t that a mouthful…

And here is the link!

Portuguese-American writer Darrell Kastin (The Undiscovered Island) to speak at UMass Dartmouth, May 6, 2010



We finally sorted out what songs we are going to record in Portugal and we have about 15 of them. We’ll be in Portugal for three weeks but will only be recording for five days so we have a lot to fit in. We’re still working on translations to the lyrics and a brief description of each song so that I can explain what I’m singing about during performances. Now I’m just crossing my fingers and trying not to stress out. I’m feeling a lot of pressure to get things right because we only have this one opportunity.

Our show in the Key of C last Saturday was great. The woman who runs the coffee shop put an ad in the paper so the place was packed. Standing room only. I was surprised to see so many people there. Unfortunately, my dad got sick the night before so we were both feeling pretty low energy. It’s amazing how draining singing for two hours can be. I should really think about that in the future. Maybe it would be better to do shorter performances? There comes a point when I just feel like I can’t emote anymore, lol. Plus, the terror of having to perform in front of real live people can be pretty exhausting. We also put out a mailing list so people could add their names if they wanted us to let them know when the CD comes out. If anyone here wants to be added to that just send me a message with your e-mail address and I will add you!

Also, my dad will be presenting his novel The Undiscovered Island next week on the East Coast. We’ll be doing some of the Portuguese songs there, too.

Here are the dates and locations for that:
Thursday, May 6 5:00 pm UMass Dartmouth, Dartmouth, MA (I’m not sure where in the University we’ll be…)

Friday, May 7 7:00 pm Casa dos Acores, East Providence, RI

Saturday, May 8 3:00 pm Baker Books, Dartmouth, MA (This will probably just be a signing, no music)

I don’t know how if anyone on livejournal will be in that area but if you are I hope you will come by to see us!

Other than that, I will be out of the country the rest of May with questionable internet access.


Our Latest Performance

So the performance at Hannon library went really well! My dad and I were, of course, nervous wrecks. None of that nonchalant courage for us! We really had no idea what kind of crowd we were going to get so I was pleased to see that the audience was pretty full. One of the librarians counted fifty people, I think. My dad read a bit from his essay on writing The Undiscovered Island, showed some beautiful photos of the Azores and read an excerpt from the book–the part when Julia wanders into the garden of Maria dos Santos. And then there were questions, and such questions! It felt good to be educating the masses, lol.

Just when I couldn’t stand sitting there anymore (my stomach without fail betrays me every time I have to so much as stand up in front of people and talk, much less sing) it was time to perform some songs. For clarification the songs my dad and I are working on are set to famous (within Portugal) Portuguese poetry. My dad writes the music and plays the guitar. I sing. And Chris Matthews plays a mean cahon (Spanish drum). We chose three of the Pessoa poems my dad set to music because Pessoa’s poetry is a huge part of the novel, one Florbela Espanca poem because most of the songs are set to her poems, and I sang a fado a cappella.

The difficult thing about performing these songs is that they are in a language most Americans are unfamiliar with, therefore conveying the meaning of the song is a real challenge. Because I’m not fluent in Portuguese myself it’s also difficult for me to explain said meaning coherently without feeling like an idiot. So my lovely stepmother wrote out a few sentences for me to say to introduce the songs. I was really nervous about that, but I think it went well. Actually, I’m surprised at how well it went. Not perfect but, good enough to where I am beginning to think I underestimate myself. See, I’m ridiculously shy. I’m an introvert. Part of me just wants to hide in my house with my cat for all eternity writing weird stories and poems, never having to face the world. In a lot of ways I’m not a born performer. I don’t thrive in the limelight, but at the same time I’ve always craved it. I think mostly it’s a desire to be loved and appreciated after being invisible most of my childhood. But that desire can get… complicated. Anyway, somehow I’ve learned over the years how to perform, given the right circumstances. And my god did it feel wonderful to actually have an audience that was listening to me, not chatting over their mochas or coming and going. I could just focus on the song. I could lose myself in the emotions. And when I looked out into the audience I saw people sitting with their eyes closed, just as lost as I was. That felt good. Really good.

We live in a culture where we expect artists to bend over backwards to entertain us. We like our singers to be sexy, theatrical, charismatic, etc. But I like to think a voice is enough. I like to think that the ability to evoke and channel intense emotions is worth more than those other things. Because when I sing, when I really sing, I lose it. All the emotions I usually don’t show come pouring out of me, leaving me shaking and exhausted. I like to think that’s enough.

Anyway, I hope the above doesn’t come off as arrogant. I’m not terribly charismatic, I’m too shy to be theatrical and I’ve never thought of myself as classicly attractive. I’ve had to put up with a lot if idiots informing me I couldn’t possibly be a singer if I was afraid to perform in front of people. So from perspective I need to find something in myself to believe in and I have to believe a voice is enough. Because, in the end, isn’t that what singing is ultimately about? The music, the voice?

After the show it was wonderful to meet so many people with ties to the Azores, either through distant family or friends. Everyone loved the music, even those with no understanding of Portuguese and lots of people bought to book and asked for my dad to sign it. I sat there thinking “I want this.” I want to sing and I want to sit here giving out books, my books someday, talking to people. And it struck me that I worry so much about wanting both these things–music and writing–and agonizing over whether or not I can have both. Maybe I should just stop worrying and start living. Because I can’t make a career happen, but I can do the things I love.


An Interview with Darrell Kastin

It seems I have been remiss in my duties as publicist and forgot to post about this Q&A my dad did with Tamara Sellman on Writer’s Rainbow.


An excerpt:
“Whether I’m writing a short story or a novel my writing process is like dredging up an artifact from a deep murky bog, or better yet chipping away at one encased in some kind of material that has become like rock. I chip away at what is visible, and believe I am seeing the complete artifact hidden beneath. Yet further digging reveals there is more, and more. It is this continual process of digging and bringing up new aspects of the story that for me keeps me guessing, as well as surprised by what I find. But it is also frustrating, in that, like I said, it sometimes takes many years until the entire story or novel is whole. I’ll get ideas after years of working on something, and ask myself, why the hell didn’t I think of this before?

I enjoy novel writing as well as writing short stories. And I enjoy reading both. I’m hard to please when it comes to reading either, but particularly short stories. I want something to happen, but I don’t want to know what will happen; I want characters I can believe in. I like humor, too. There’s nothing like a perfectly wrought short story, like the stories of Miguel Angel Asturias or Twain, or Tommaso Landolfi, Dino Buzzati, John Collier, Shirley Jackson, Saki, Peter S. Beagle or Angela Carter at their best.”


Darrell Kastin to present new novel & music at Hannon Library

Darrell Kastin, Ashland author and musician of Azorean descent, will discuss and read from his recently published novel, The Undiscovered Island. The free program will include a performance of music composed by the author for Portuguese poetry. The event will take place in the SOU Hannon Library’s Meese Meeting Room (LIB305) on Thursday, February 4, at 4 pm. A book signing will follow. For information call 541-552-6835.

I will be singing! Yay! I will try not to panic at the possibly large number of people in the audience. Hmmm, I wonder if we can get someone to record it, too…


Another Wonderful Review!

I’m terribly pleased and excited to announce that the awesome JoSelle Vanderhooft (aka upstart_crow) has done a new review of my dad’s book “The Undiscovered Island” for The Pedestal Magazine. This is by far the best review the book has received and gives an intelligent and perceptive analysis of the novel. I hope you will stop by and take a look at it!


ps. Thanks Jo!


The New York Times Book Review

Exciting news all and sundry! There is an ad for my dad’s book The Undiscovered Island in the New York Times Book Review all month! It looks lovely and already there seem to be more sales on amazon.com. It actually got to around 16,000 at one point today. I’m quite pleased about this as I’ve been running out of book promotion ideas (some publicist I am). The problem is so much of the things I could be doing should have been done months before the book was ever published, but my dad’s publisher is severely disorganized and didn’t know when the book would be published until the last moment. Lol, he didn’t even get an advance. The advance was sent after publication, making it a what exactly? In other words, the whole thing was handled rather poorly and it’s left me feeling helpless. I’m not sure what else to do at this point. Review copies have been sent to many places. Ads have been placed. The internet has been utilized. Please let me know if I’m missing something. He’s going to do a reading at the local bookstore here and we’re doing a joint music performance/reading/presentation at the university library. I’m working with a web designer to revamp his website. I wish I knew some online blogs that might do a book review or interview, but all the blogs I know about are for YA books. Oh well, best keep trying.


Another Review!

I’m terribly behind in everyone’s livejournals right now and I apologize for that. I’m trying to catch up on other projects.

However, my dad just got another great review from the Sacramento Book Review so I thought I would post it here!
The Azores is an archipelago hundreds of miles west of the coast of Portugal, located in the mid-Atlantic. It is a relatively unknown (or unexploited) area that is not often discussed in the media-or in literature. This will change, however, if Darrell Kastin and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s Center for Portuguese Studies and Culture has any say. Kastin, who descends from Azores natives, has used his knowledge of the islands, their culture and their history to weave, in The Undiscovered Island, a skillful tapestry of myth, history and personal revelation that is nothing short of fascinating.

The story focuses on Julia Castro, who travels to the Azores from her home in California to seek out her father, who has mysteriously gone missing. Through her search for him, Julia encounters legends and superstitions that pervade the islands, colorful locals, local history and historical fantasy, and the magic of her roots and of herself. What Kastin has done with The Undiscovered Island is bring all of the color and quirk of this beautiful and under-appreciated area to the world’s attention-and we should thank him for that.

Reviewed by Ashley McCall