March 11, 2005
Former Cowley student pens first novel
Arkansas Citians, and more specifically students and staff who were around Cowley College in the late 1990s, will recognize familiar names and places after reading “Until August,” the first novel published by former Cowley student Adam Catlin.
Catlin, 28, was in Arkansas City Tuesday to promote the novel, published by Publish America Press. He signed copies of the book at the Regnier Bookstore on Cowley’s main campus.
“Until August” is about an eight-month love affair in 1998, set primarily on the college’s main campus in Arkansas City. The book is filled with references to actual places and people, including the Kirke Dale Dormitory, the Brown family of Arkansas City and Home National Bank, and Cowley administrators Dr. Pat McAtee, president, and Conrad Jimison, vice president of administration.
Catlin first got the idea to write the book in fall 1999.
“The book is loosely based on events in my life,” said Catlin, who attended Cowley in fall 1997 and spring 1998.
The 1995 graduate of Sedan High School and current graduate student at Kansas State University said he first wrote a screenplay as a communications major at Southwestern College in Winfield.
“I got $60 for the best screenplay called ‘Uninvited,’ ” Catlin said. That was in 2000.
It was his second screenplay titled “What We Leave Behind” that resulted in a 150-page manuscript.
“I thought I’d turn it into a novel,” he said. “It took me five or six months, and I changed the title to ‘Now Until August.’ I wanted to do something that was seven to nine months long.”
“Until August” is a story about Frank Archer, the events that led him into the arms of Annie Foster, his time at the Kansas Jaycees Cerebral Palsy Ranch, and those eight months in 1998.
“Frank remembers this woman (Foster) from five years earlier,” Catlin said, telling a bit of the story line. “He met her at Cowley.”
Catlin confessed that some of the events are true, while others are fictitious. Catlin, however, admitted that he is Frank Archer “to a certain extent.”
“Frank is taller and better looking than I am,” Catlin said.
Catlin, who used to write short stories to keep his second-grade classmates entertained, said the hardest work was writing the screenplay.
“It’s about 150 pages long, and you figure it’s about a minute of film for every page written,” he said.
Among Catlin’s favorite authors are horror writer Stephen King, “Night Fall” and “The General’s Daughter” author Nelson DeMille, and Ian Fleming of James Bond fame.
Although “Until August” has now been published, Catlin said he’s already submitted a second book to the same publisher.
“I’d just like to keep writing,” said Catlin, who is a year away from a master’s degree in English from K-State. “I have a lot of stories in the back of my head.”
Catlin said he likely would have earned an associate’s degree from Cowley had his significant other not left for WSU.
“I had a very good experience here,” he said.
Catlin said he planned to work at a newspaper or a magazine once he earned his degree.
“I want to promote Kansas,” Catlin said. “Kansas has always gotten the bum rap. But ideally, what I’d love to do is what ‘Bridges of Madison County’ did for Iowa and its covered bridges. If somebody did that with Kansas and they came away with a positive feeling, I think that would be great.”
Catlin works at the Manhattan Mercury Tuesdays and Thursdays. He said he was pleased with the novel.
“I’ve been writing for most of my life,” he said. “You just have to turn some writing projects on their head and make them your own.”
“Until August” is available at Cowley’s Renn Memorial Library and the public libraries in Arkansas City and Winfield. It can be purchased for $24.95 through the college's Regnier Bookstore, at www.publishamerica.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, www.borders.com, and www.amazon.com.