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Kasten, Kate

Comments from the author about writing: I am the author of three novels, The De-conversion of Kit Lamb, Ten Small Beds, and Better Days, also a book of fairy tales for adults, Wildwood: Fairy Tales and Fables Re-imagined. All four books are available on Amazon in paperback and as a download to Kindle. They are also available at the Iowa City, Coralville, and North Liberty libraries. The De-conversion of Kit Lamb is available at the University of Iowa Main Library and the Grinnell College Burling Library.

The De-Conversion of Kit Lamb is a coming-of-age and suspense story about a young Bible-believing convert who sheds his fundamentalism when faced with the consequences of a theocratic government. It is based on historical events in Guatemala during the 18-month genocidal regime of Pentecostal dictator, General Efraín Ríos Montt.

Readers’ and reviewers’ praise for The De-Conversion of Kit Lamb:
“… well-crafted prose … vibrant images … An engrossing, provocative novel.” –Kirkus Reviews
“… a suspenseful coming-of-age story … believable, engaging characters and a gripping plot.” –Mary Helen Stefaniak, author of the award-winning novel The Cailiffs of Baghdad, Georgia
“… the climax is riveting … Thank you for this wonderful book.” –Margaret Hawkins, author of A Year of Cats and Dogs, How to Survive a Natural Disaster, and the award-winning After Schizophrenia
“… [a] beautiful book, inside and out.” –Jeff Charis-Carlson, The Iowa City Press Citizen

Ten Small Beds is a novel of psychological suspense about a California psychotherapist, Davida Grayson, who returns to her rural Kansas hometown to supervise the care of her mother, who has Alzheimer's disease.  During her sojourn in Kansas, unsettling events threaten her safety, sobriety, and sanity.  Despite increasing self-doubt, she continues to work, via long distance phone calls, with three of her Oakland therapy clients:  a Korean college student whose burden of responsibility toward his immigrant parents has led him to attempt suicide; a stoic, workaholic man anguished by being his family’s scapegoat; and a woman coping with the family havoc wreaked by her husband’s bipolar illness.  Interwoven with the main plot of the novel, their stories echo Davida’s struggle against mental deterioration and her quest to solve the central mystery of her life.

“…[A] readable novel about making sense of family history beset by secrets and pain. … At times vivid and evocative … [a] riveting mystery at the novel’s core. … the plot’s serpentine twists will propel readers through to the satisfying end.” –Kirkus Reviews

Better Days tells the story of Helen and Cal Earlywine, in their early ‘70’s, the last of generations to work their rural Iowa farm. Their beloved son Tom was to have carried on the tradition, but, twenty-six years ago at age twenty-one, he died suddenly. Now, when much more of life lies behind them than in front of them, Helen and Cal must face the reverberations of Tom’s death and the somehow surprising, though always inevitable, sabotage of old age—Cal’s deteriorating hip, Helen’s sister’s increasing dementia. Enter Nancy Bannister, relentless town booster and manipulator of a hapless town council. Nancy is determined to plant an income-producing corn maze park on the field where Tom died. Her maneuverings and machinations force Helen and Cal to rethink the future that lies before them.

“This nostalgic view of pastoral life on an Iowa farm delivers the warm fuzzies without sentimentality. … A picturesque yet sober look at a quickly retreating American archetype…”–Kirkus Reviews

Wildwood: Fairy Tales and Fables Re-imagined is a book of tales for adults. These fanciful stories are based on well-known European fairy tales and fables. As with the originals, some are light and whimsical, others ferociously grim. They are written in the traditional language and style that we remember from childhood, but unlike the originals, they are not for children. Adult lovers of fairy tales may, on reflection, have wondered how fared the wedding night of a princess who could not endure a pea; what became of Hansel and Gretel after their hideous ordeal; what inner anguish the naked emperor suffered as he doggedly paraded past his gaping subjects; and whence came the outlandish tale of a wolf successfully passing himself off as a grandmother. These and other questions are answered in Wildwood’s fourteen ironic tales.

"Lessons about caution and selfishness but also self-preservation, revenge, insanity, patricide, incineration—all your basic kid stuff. This book revisits fourteen such tales, giving each a fresh spin. … This sharp yet charming collection of tales takes dead aim at human foibles and follies. … Enjoyable, imaginative retellings of classic tales—not for the nursery.” –Kirkus Reviews

Six of my short stories, “Home Fires,” “True Feelings,” “Mr. Stroud’s Story,” “Butterfly Garden,” “The Teaching Test,” and “Ever and Anon,” have been published in Glimmer Train, American Literary Review, Madison Review, Northwest Review, and fiction anthologies respectively. These stories can be downloaded from my website: www.katekasten.com

I also wrote, with co-author Sandra de Helen, a musical satire of the Nancy Drew mystery genre, The Clue in the Old Birdbath, which has been produced by theatre companies in Chicago, Minneapolis, Seattle, and Portland. Reviews of the play are also available on my website.

I received my B.A. degree in psychology from Grinnell College and my M.A. in English from Iowa State University. Currently I live and write in Iowa City, Iowa, where I teach English as a Second Language at the University of Iowa.

Literary awards received and date received:

  • 1998 American Literary Review Short Fiction Prize for my story, “True Feelings.”
  • 1999 first place and publication in Somersault Press’s Sideshow anthology for my story “The Teaching Test.”
  • 1997 finalist in the Helicon Nine Editions Willa Cather Fiction Contest for The Teaching Test and Other Stories.
  • 1999 Publisher's finalist for the Heeken Group Foundation Tara Fellowship for Short Fiction for my short story “Home Fires.”
  • Three other stories, “Grammar Lessons,” “The Jack Story,” and “Fugue,” were Glimmer Train contest finalists in December 2008, March 2008, and January 2009, respectively.

Book Types: Fiction

Audience Types: Young Adult, Adult

Genre: Realistic Fiction, Politics, Suspense, Historical Fiction, Fantasy

Are you willing to do programs for schools, libraries, or other groups? Yes

If you are willing to do programs, will you charge a fee? Yes for transportation and lodging. Where there is a program with grant money for bringing an author to read, I would negotiate a small fee. In some situations it might be appropriate just to speak via Skype, in which case there would be no fee.

E-mail Address: kekasten@gmail.com

Author's Web site: http://www.katekasten.com

County: Johnson

Books By This Author

  • Better Days. Islet Press, Iowa City, IA, 2013.
  • Wildwood: Fairy Tales and Fables Re-imagined. Islet Press, Iowa City, IA 2013.
  • Ten Small Beds. Islet Press, Iowa City, IA, 2011.

  • The De-Conversion of Kit Lamb. Islet Press, Iowa City, IA, 2011.


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