Author Interview with Kyle T. Cowan, author of Sunshine Is Forever

Today, I'm thrilled to have Kyle T. Cowan here to answer a few questions about Sunshine Is Forever, his debut YA novel. Sunshine Is Forever turned out to be one of my favorite books of 2017. To find out why, check out my review HERE


What are the top three reasons readers should consider picking up Sunshine Is Forever this August?

Readers should pick up a copy of Sunshine is Forever if they like John Green style writing, if they enjoyed Perks of Being a Wallflower, or if they know someone struggling with depression.

Sunshine Is Forever tells the story of Hunter. Would you mind sharing a little about him? Also, if you could offer him any advice what would you say?

A friend inspired Hunter’s character. I noticed that this person was constantly casting blame. I would say it was the most toxic friendship I’ve ever been involved in because I was new to both the situation and this type of depression. Depression is infectious. I found myself getting depressed and casting blame, too.

I did some soul searching and started writing Sunshine is Forever. I wanted to write a book about a character that refused to deal with his depression. Rather than address his issues, Hunter is constantly casting blame and deflecting. I think my advice for Hunter is that he should reflect on his actions and how they affect those around him. Happiness comes from within and the first step towards recovery is accepting that we are all accountable for the way we receive the world around us.

Camp Sunshine represents how society treats mental illness—it is not a representation of an actual camp, but these types of camps do exist. Society constantly casts the mentally ill aside, especially in government. For some reason mental health is expendable, so I wanted to create an environment that made the campers feel like they were unwanted. Camp Sunshine is a place for parents to send their kids so they can get them out of their sight and out of their minds. The camp is very poorly run.

The book takes place at Camp Sunshine, a camp-styled rehab center for depressed adolescents. How did you go about developing the camp? Was it based on any specific rehab center?

The counselors are representations of the different ways people stereotypically think about mental health. Asshole Jim feels depression is something you can just “get over,” C. Dermont thinks depression is something that needs to be babied, Counselor Kylie believes exercise will release endorphins and endorphins cure depression, Therapist Jess considers depression a soul search, and Counselor Winter deems the mentally ill as people who need to be bullied and locked in camps like hers.

Counselor Kirk is a representation of how society should view depression. He is supportive, but not overbearing. He shares his viewpoints, but also allows Hunter to learn to think for himself.

I really enjoyed how Sunshine Is Forever is told in a casual, journal like style. What inspired you to take that approach to writing?

I actually prefer to write in third person but I felt like it wouldn’t work for this story. I thought this story needed a personal touch. It started as a screenplay, and the screenplay had a ton of voiceover, so I started with the voiceovers as an outline for creating Hunter’s voice. I also knew it would be easier to use sarcasm and comedy as devices if I used a first person point of view.

What’s one of your favorite scenes or lines from Sunshine Is Forever? No spoilers please!

My favorite line in the book is “Forever is relative.” When we are young every feeling seems like it will last forever, but the truth is all feelings come and go. If we were happy all the time we wouldn’t ever understand the importance of happiness. All emotions come in waves, and for people with depression the waves are bigger and crash harder. I think the cover image of the sun falling from the sky is very poignant—nothing lasts forever, forever is relative.

What was one of the most difficult parts in writing Sunshine Is Forever? The easiest?

I originally worked on Sunshine is Forever with an editor at Hyperion. Disney has a very specific style and the editor had me tone everything down. Hyperion ended up passing on the book. When I edited it with Inkshares I ended up putting a lot of the edgy stuff back in the novel. I think the hardest part of writing is learning what advice to take and what advice to ignore. Learning to say no in the right way is just as important as learning to say yes to good advice.

Sunshine Is Forever is being published by Inkshares, a publisher that puts readers in control through pre-orders. What inspired you to take that route rather than a more typical publisher?

A mentor of mine pointed me to Inkshares after a few years of querying agents and getting no results. I have experience with crowd funding and small fan base from acting so I believed I could make the 750 preorders. It was tough, but I did it in about two and a half months. I like that Inkshares gives the author a lot of input on the story. They have a very personable staff, great designers, and editors. I would recommend Inkshares to anyone trying to get a publishing deal.

Besides writing you’re also heavily involved in the film and TV industries. Have you drawn upon those experiences in your writing?

Every experience I have with storytelling aids me with my writing. Acting definitely helps me develop characters and watching the way different professionals problem solve on film sets has helped me become a professional as well.

What’s up next for you book wise? Is there anything else you would like to add?

My next book will also hopefully be published through Inkshares. KARID follows two brothers after an evil dictator imprisons them. They must use their connection to the cosmos in order to rally mankind into a rebellion. Think 1984 meets Game of Thrones. You can follow the book here:

Readers can stay in touch with me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook—@KyleTCowan.


About the Book:
After a life-changing decision, Hunter decides that he can’t go on…

…which lands him in Camp Sunshine, a rehab center for depressed teens. Hunter is determined to keep everyone there out of his head, especially his therapist. But when he meets Corin, a beautiful, mysterious, and confident fellow camper, all Hunter wants to do is open up to her, despite the fact that he’s been warned Corin is bad news.

When Corin devises a plan for them to break out of the camp, Hunter is faced with the ultimate choice — will he run from the traumatic incident he’s tried so hard to escape, or will he learn that his mistakes have landed him right where he’s meant to be?

Sunshine is Forever captures the heartbreaking spirit of The Fault in Our Stars, the humor of Orange is the New Black, and the angst of Catcher in the Rye.

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1 comment:

  1. Great interview! I do like books that tackle mental illness because it is so often misunderstood in our society. It was really interesting to learn details of the process.


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