Today’s Local to know is an author who wanted to buck the trend of male-dominated fantasy novels. Meet Catherine Raphael, the self-proclaimed feminist who helped found SWPA Foundation for Women and Girls and whose debut novel, Journey to the Heart Stone, out next week. The book is set in a world that used to be ruled by a matriarchal society. A young woman, Cora, takes on a quest to unite three tribes led by women in an attempt to restore balance to a world destroyed by Cora’s nefarious uncle, Vestar.

Journey to the Heart Stone will debut on September 27! Let’s give Kathryn more details about her life and work in Pittsburgh.

Tell our readers a little about yourself!

I am a second wave feminist, activist and artist/writer.

Think for a second and tell us: What excites you the most about this city?

Pittsburgh is a collection of different neighborhoods with different personalities. They exist in this strange geographical wonder of hills, valleys, nooks and crannies, with water flowing around and through it all. Bridges abound with vast skies overhead. It is a beautiful place.

What is your favorite Pittsburgh memory?

When I was a child, we went to the zoo. I remember feeling sad and upset about the animals cramped in their little smelly cages. My favorite memory is visiting the reconstructed Pittsburgh Zoo with natural habitats. It was such a happy change.

If you could only eat one meal at a local restaurant for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Spicy Pork Lettuce, Chopped Lettuce and Chocolate Maki with Soba.

Besides the obvious stop above, share your other top three destinations where you would go on your perfect day in Pittsburgh.

Modern craftFrick Park and any coffee shop with comfortable chairs and Wi-Fi.

What is your favorite way to follow local social media and why?

Instagram. I’m new to Instagram and I’m still figuring it out, but I love the fast-paced vibe and connections.

(Courtesy of Books Forward)

If you could give one piece of advice to locals, what would it be?

A sense of humor will help you get 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 SWPA Foundation for Women and Girls 20 years ago. For me, it was learning to build trust and work together to achieve our goal. The quest in my fantasy novel is about building trust and working together to achieve a goal and win. I hope I carry these qualities in everything I do.

What is your unpopular opinion about the city?

People don’t know they have to stop at a red light!

What are you most looking forward to this year?

I’ve missed out on travel due to COVID, etc. I have some good trips coming up—meetings with friends and a writer’s retreat.

Journey to the Heart Stone available for pre-order at Bookstore, Amazon and in other places. Follow Catherine on Instagram at @catherine_raphael_author.

Know a person or organization we should feature? Send us an email at [email protected] with the theme “Inclining Locals to Know” and you may see their name in a future newsletter!

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