Recently, Catalina took time off from writing her second book, Vanishing Point, to answer a few questions for us.
What is your very first memory from your childhood?
My first memories are actually small snippets rather than complete scenarios.
For example, both of my parents were smokers, and I remember my mom telling me every morning to empty the ashtrays. I hated the smell of those dirty ashtrays!
On the other hand, one of my other daily jobs was to water the hibiscus in our front yard, and I remember how much I loved the fragrance of my “biscuit trees” and how refreshing the cold spray from the hose was on those hot southern California days.
Lake or ocean? Forest or desert? Alaska or New Mexico? Choose one. Why?
I loved our family outings to Newport Beach. Back then, it only took about 30 minutes to drive from our house in Riverside. I loved the smell of the ocean, the wet sand, and yes, even the fresh fish that the locals sold from their tiny market stalls below the north edge of the pier.
My father taught me to “beckon the waves,” and I actually believed that they came in because I was calling them. Years later, I showed my youngest son how to do this, and I think he believed in his own magic at this, as well. (That’s him in the photo.)
Recently, I was making a collection of photographs of my sons on our family vacations, and I was stunned at how many of those pictures were taken on a beach. It turns out that eleven of our family vacations have been on the Pacific or Atlantic coasts, plus one to St. Croix and one on Cayo Costa which is off of Sanibel Island. I guess you could say that the ocean has called me for many years!
Who was the best teacher that you ever had and why?
Mrs. Knopp, my English teacher in my junior year of high school gets this award, hands down.
I was already drawn to writing, but really had never written anything except reports and research papers for other subjects. Mrs. Knopp had us fill out daily journals. Sometimes she would give us a writing prompt, sometimes she would give us a choice of two or three things to write about, and quite often, she gave us complete freedom to write about anything that was on our mind.
She took them home every weekend, and every Monday morning I looked forward to seeing what she had written about my work the week before. Her comments were light-hearted and comical, but what mattered most was that she gave me a voice. Those teenage years are full of emotion and drama and hormones. I’m amazed that she took the time to read the ramblings of so many students every weekend. But she did. And I’m forever grateful.
Your partner fell asleep, so now you’ve got the remote. What are you going to watch?
Actually, if the Cubs aren’t playing, I don’t watch TV. At all.
A few years ago, some friends of mine were complaining that Gilmore Girls was over. One of them pulled up the first episode on Netflix, and I binge watched every episode. But then when the final episode was over, that was it. And there was nothing else remotely like it.
What’s your favorite movie of all time?
Ohhh, that’s a tough one. My father directed musicals at all of the schools he ever taught at, so I’m a big fan of anything Rodgers and Hammerstein.
I love vast open scenery like you see in Dances With Wolves or The Abyss or even Rainman, but they just aren’t the same if they’re not on a massive screen.
I think my favorite recent one is Black Panther. Of course the scenery was amazing. The elaborate costumes were breathtaking. But the absolute commitment to the characters being so regal, the society being so principled, and the interwoven theme of time-honored traditions — these elements are unequaled, I think, in any movie that I’ve ever seen.
Also, we heard that you love to cook!
Oh. My. Goodness.
I love to cook so many things. I love pulling out my grandmother’s old recipes and making those comfort foods.
I also love to try new foods from all over the world. I probably subscribe to more foodie magazines than anyone! But I also recognize that sometimes, something that looks like it is going to be good — doesn’t turn out so great, and it’s not always the fault of the person who made it. So I like to figure out what’s WRONG with a recipe, and then re-create it on MY terms, so that MY family will eat it.
So what’s you best recipe that you took from somewhere and made it your own?
I love the ocean and I love seafood. So I think that Seafood Stew is one of my favorite recipes to make.