Today’s Local to Know is an author who wanted to buck the trend of male-dominated fantasy novels. Meet Catherine Raphael, a self-described feminist who helped found the Women and Girls Foundation of SWPA and whose debut novel, Journey to the Heart Stone, comes out next week. The book takes place in a world formerly run by matriarchal societies. Young woman Cora undertakes a quest to unite three female-led tribes in a bid to reestablish balance in a world wrecked by Cora’s nefarious uncle Vestor.
Journey to the Heart Stone debuts Sept. 27! Let’s turn things over to Catherine for more on her life and work in Pittsburgh.
Tell our readers a little about yourself!
I’m a second-wave feminist, activist and an artist/writer.
Wax poetic for a second and tell us: what brings you most alive about this city?
Pittsburgh is a collection of distinct neighborhoods with different personalities. They exist in this amazing geographical wonder — hills, valleys, nooks and crannies with water running around and through it all. Bridges abound with a huge sky overhead. It’s a beautiful place.
What’s your favorite Pittsburgh memory?
When I was a kid, we’d go to the zoo. I remember feeling sad and distressed about the animals cramped in their small, smelly cages. My favorite memory is visiting the remodeled Pittsburgh Zoo with the natural habitats. It was such a happy change.
If you could eat only one meal from a local restaurant for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Spicy pork lettuce wrap, chopped salad and chocolate maki from Soba.
Outside of the obvious stop above, share your other top three destinations for where you’d go on your perfect Pittsburgh day.
Contemporary Craft, Frick Park and any coffee shop with comfortable chairs and wifi.
What’s your favorite way to follow local social media and why?
Instagram. I’m an Instagram newbie, and I’m still figuring it out, but I love the fast-paced vibe and connections.
If you could give any one piece of advice to locals, what would it be?
A sense of humor will get you through a lot.
How does Pittsburgh help you do what you do/influence your work?
I was part of a group of women who created the Women and Girls Foundation of SWPA 20 years ago. For me, it was an education in building trust and working together to accomplish our goal. The quest in my fantasy novel is exactly that — building trust and working together to achieve their goal and win the day. I hope I carry those qualities in everything I do.
What’s an unpopular opinion you have about the city?
People don’t know they’re supposed to stop at red lights!
What are you most looking forward to this year?
I’ve missed traveling because of COVID etc. I’ve got some nice trips coming up — seeing friends and a writers retreat.
Journey to the Heart Stone is available for preorder on Bookshop, Amazon and elsewhere. Follow Catherine on Instagram at @catherine_raphael_author.
Know of a person or organization that we ought to feature? Send us an email to hello@theincline with the subject line “Incline Locals to Know,” and you could see their name in an upcoming newsletter!