About Me

This is my official picture.
This is me.

I’m an author of books for children and teens, short stories for adults, and reports for corporate clients. I’m also an avid reader, an animal-lover, a quilter (I like to say “fabric artist”), and a mother/ wife/ sister/ friend of many wonderful people.

If I had to choose between books or animals, I’d choose animals because they’re alive. Books are not alive, though the best ones feel that way.

I grew up in Kingston, Ontario, the youngest of five children. I studied political science at Queen’s University and environmental studies at York University before moving to the Ottawa area to work for conservation organizations. Eventually, I quit office life to raise children and write freelance.

(You can still find fragments of my 20th-century work online, like this example – it’s true what they say about the internet being written in ink, not pencil. What you post today will be around in twenty years. Keep it in mind, people.)

I now live in Gatineau, Quebec, in a little house with a big yard full of rodents, rabbits, and the occasional fox and falcon. It is very inspiring.

I published a dozen short stories in literary journals in my 20s. I began to write children’s fiction after having kids and rediscovering the joy of storytime. My first children’s novel, Walking Backward, was published in October 2009 by Orca Book Publishers and was nominated for many awards. My first picture book, the unfortunately titled My Cat Isis, illustrated by Virginie Egger, came out with Kids Can Press in 2011. My first YA novel, All Good Children (Orca Book Publishers), won several awards in Canada and was nominated for a few in the USA. My middle-grade comedies, 26 Tips for Surviving Grade 6 and 28 Tricks for a Fearless Grade 6, came out with Lorimer, and also won some prizes and nominations. (You can read more about each of these titles on the My Books page.)

My next picture book, When the Squirrels Stole my Sister, is in development with Fitzhenry & Whiteside.

I’ve just finished a middle-grade animal adventure that I’m really excited about.

I recently resumed writing short fiction for adults. My recent stories have appeared in The Fiddlehead and The New Quarterly.

Glistening mushroom
A sample of my fungal photography

I’m active in Canada’s children’s literature community–I’ve sat on book juries, participated in book festivals, and given workshops and presentations at schools, libraries, and literary events from coast to coast.

When I’m not writing, I’m usually reading, but I also enjoy yoga, quilting, and kayaking. I love nature just a smidge more than I love art. I make good cookies and great salads. I take awesome photographs of mushrooms.

I am grateful for the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec.

You can learn more about me and my books at www.catherineausten.com . (Actually, you’ll just learn all the same stuff about me, but I have some first chapters and follow-up activities for my books there, so it might be worth a visit.)

11 Comments on “About Me

  1. I love ur book Walking Backward! 🙂 I chose 2 write a report on it and i did a biography on u….I also love ur 26 Tips for Surviving grade 6!! I ❤ ur books!! 🙂

    • You have made my day, Sally. I’m so glad you love my books – I will have to keep writing more! That is a very cool thing to think of a student writing a report on my book for school. I love that idea. It makes me want to add some educational components to my website….

    • Wow – thank you, Paula. That is so nice to hear. I sometimes (like always) nag myself for not having accomplished more – which nagging zaps any motivation I might have had. Your outlook is so much better. I’m going to chant that first sentence of yours to myself in the mirror each morning – and then, whoa, there’ll be no stopping me. Thanks so much for popping by.

  2. I really wish that you could come to my school for a presentation, I am working really hard to try and get my principal to try to get you to come. I am really looking forward to the MASC author’s and illustrator’s conference, if I can I will choose to go to your workshop first. Some of your books sound very interesting.

    • Thanks, Caileigh. I do a fun school presentation and I love meeting kids who love to read or write (or just share funny stories). I am looking forward to the MASC conference, too – I hope to meet you in my workshop! Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  3. Hello Catherine, I came across your blog because you mentioned a collection called Persephone’s Sisters. I am working on a similar but different project and soliciting written submissions. It is a non-profit initiative to raise awareness about preventing childhood traumas and abuses in support of a charity called Little Warriors.
    Can you please share the following event:
    https://www.facebook.com/events/594392130702490/
    Thank you for your time.
    Joan Lee Tu

  4. hi both me and my ex boyfriend have a fear of clocks
    This happens when I see a lot of clocks, old antique clocks are together in one place I’m ok with ticking it’s just when there’s lots of them together
    I have a need to get away from them like a physical revulsion
    I can’t look at them but I can feel them
    It’s such a weird feeling
    I also get this feeling in certain rooms in places I’ve never been before
    All I can say when it happens is, I don’t like it over and over
    Weird huh ? But this is how I feel
    I’ve never told anyone else but yesterday o was in an antique centre and it happened the guy I was with thought I was messing about until he saw the look of terror on my face I know it is irrational

    • You are not the only one, Eileen–and maybe it helps to know that. And yours is not the strangest phobia. (Not that I can think of a stranger one off the top of my head, but newspapers comes close.) At least your clock phobia is very specific and groups of clocks are likely only encountered in stores, so that’s more easily avoided than, say, clock towers, which are feared by some of the other people who’ve commented on this blog. A fondness for antiques might make avoidance difficult for you, alas. Admitting the problem is the first step and, yeah, it’s weird but not something anyone decent would judge you harshly for. I’d say it adds character. 🙂

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