Interview with Kevin Catalano, Author of Where the Sun Shines Out

Today we’re happy to be talking with Kevin Catalano about his debut literary crime novel, Where the Sun Shines Out.

Please describe what your story is about.

There are Oz Munchkins and drugs and kidnapping and death and basketball and snow and bare-knuckle fighting and weaponized eggs and scars and the Erie Canal and history and some sex (there could have been more) and a dog.

Share a teaser sentence or two from your novel.

“The voice saying she wanted him, not his brother, ordering him to change his clothes, telling him to eat, and when he wouldn’t, saying she knew what he wanted, and there was her breast, and on his tongue now he tasted it, the taste of betrayal.”

What do you want people to know about your book?

This was rejected by countless editors who thought it too dark to publish, but I find the novel implicitly optimistic.

What did you learn about yourself while writing this novel?

That my plot inclinations are almost always toward violence, and so there must be something inside I’m trying to work out or exorcise. I’m paying someone to try to explain to me what that is.

What was your timeline from drafting to publication?

The exact age of my daughter: seven.

What is your favorite part of writing (drafting characters, making up scenes, plotting, developing emotional turning points, etc). Why?

I love the drafting stage — when anything is possible, when the book can be any damn thing I want, and the editing stage — when I can open the manuscript at any time of day or night and play with a sentence.

Briefly, where did the idea for your book come from?

Obama’s first inaugural inspired me to write the first story about a mayor of a small village (where I grew up) who had big aspirations for hope and change… but winds up being disappointed.

When do you do your best thinking about your work in progress?

My best thinking happens at night, in bed, when I visualize the scene I’m working on as if it were a film. I often have ideas to include in the draft the following day… if I can remember them!

Share something people may be surprised to know about you?

That despite what’s in the book, I have a perfectly functioning family, and I had a great childhood, and that the hometown that’s depicted in the novel is hardly as sinister as the one in real life.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever gotten?

There are no tricks to landing an agent/getting a book published; all you have to do is write something great.

What’s next?

Ugh! This thing that I’ve been working on for five years. After rewriting it from scratch three times, I think I’ve finally found the form, the style, and the voice. (The characters and the story were always there, but how to tell it?)

We asked Kevin to pose his own interview question. Here’s what he said, followed by his answer:  

My mother and aunt often ask: Why don’t you write anything happy or funny? I tried, once. Right after my daughter was born — a traumatic, miracle birth where the generosity of people and the universe were revealed to me — I sat down to write something uplifting. That was the first time I ever had writer’s block. When I finally gave up trying, the very first thing I wrote was the darkest and bleakest story I’ve ever written.

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In the blue-collar town of Chittenango in upstate New York, birthplace of L. Frank Baum, two boys are abducted from the annual Oz Fest. When they are next seen, 10-year-old Dean has escaped by swimming across Oneida Lake with his brother’s dead body.

The novel follows the wake of this unspeakable act of violence as Dean, his family, and the town struggle to cope with the compounding damage, from sexual abuse to drug addiction to abandonment, all the while hoping for redemption. WHERE THE SUN SHINES OUT is a novel about families, trauma, and the terrible things people do to each other when they’re doing their best.


WHERE THE SUN SHINES OUT will be available in Octiber 2017 through Arcade Publishers