Cathy Day '91, Novelist
Cathy Day earned her B.A. in English/Creative Writing at DePauw in 1991 and her M.F.A. in Creative Writing at The University of Alabama in 1995. She taught undergraduate and graduate workshops at Minnesota State University, Mankato from 1997-1999, and has been teaching undergraduate creative writing at The College of New Jersey since 2000. Her book, The Circus in Winter, will be published by Harcourt in 2004, and her stories have appeared in New Stories from the South, Story, Shenandoah, Southern Review, Gettysburg Review, and elsewhere. She’s been the recipient of a Bush Artist Fellowship from the Archibald Granville Bush Foundation and a Tennessee Williams Scholarship to attend the 2001 Sewanee Writers’ Conference.
“My book, The Circus in Winter, was born my senior year in Tom Chiarella’s senior seminar. I had to write an undergraduate thesis (a “masterwork” they called it then), and I had no idea what to write about. Tom said, “You’re from that weird circus town, right? Why don’t you write about that?”
I was born in Peru, Indiana, former winter quarters for the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus. I grew up listening to stories about the days “when the circus came to town.” Whenever I told people about Peru—how my great great uncle had been killed by an elephant, how my neighbors once shot themselves out of cannons—I usually got strange looks. But my teachers at DePauw knew there was a story there. I don’t know if I would have written THE CIRCUS IN WINTER without the encouragement of DePauw faculty members. They taught me to see my hometown with a writer’s eyes. For the next twelve years—through my writing apprenticeship at The University of Alabama, the beginning of my academic teaching career, and quite a few moves across the country—I wrote steadily, learning my craft and my subject matter. Back in 1991, I remember saying to Tom, “I have no idea why this interests me so much,” and he said, “You don’t now, but someday you will.” As always, he was right.”