Catherine Hernandez (she/her) is an award-winning author and screenwriter. She is a proud queer woman who is of Filipino, Spanish, Chinese and Indian descent and married into the Navajo Nation. Her three novels, Scarborough, Crosshairs and The Story of Us have all been highly recognized on a national and international level for crossing boundaries in the categories of fiction, 2SLGBTQI+ inclusion and for highlighting various minority groups. Scarborough‘s award-winning film adaptation was released in 2021 and she is currently working on a few television projects and her fourth novel.
Catherine is breaking down countless barriers in her activism and exceptional storytelling abilities. Her latest book, The Story of Us, started as a 1000 words per day personal challenge, during the dreary initial days of Covid-19, and has flourished into a national bestseller.
Catherine and her family went from a townhome rental in Scarborough to a farmhouse with vast acreage in Napanee. The move was based on the strong decision of, “Do I care what people think or do I wait until it’s too late?”
Above photo: A still from the award-winning film, Scarborough, which is an adaptation of Catherine Hernandez’s novel of the same title.
Instead of waiting to see how things may or may not turn around during Covid, decisions were made to find a home to learn and grow in all seasons. But finding a safe space for a racialized and visibly queer couple is not always easy. After finding a community in PEC, Napanee became the better fit.
“It’s a town full of really hard-working people, who are working on farms, and so we may as well learn from people who have been here for a while and know what they are doing.”
The move was a strong lesson in giving people a chance and being patient. And for “the locals of Napanee who also needed to know that we weren’t going to flip and leave. They saw us in our coveralls and getting dirty and we weren’t just city people coming in with that sense of superiority. Asking for help and loving your neighbours is very possible, despite each other’s differences. Looking out for each other and the seasons.”
Some of the fave local spots are the Waterfront River Pub and the Santorini Mediterranean Grill, in Napanee and PEC’s Stella’s Eatery for being queer-friendly, Picton Town Hall Farmers’ Market, Paper Kite Farm, Sunnydale farms, and La Condesa.
“It is important for meeting other people who are like us. And encourage people who are not like us to be more welcoming. For learning to happen on both sides.”
The Story of Us is based around the friendship of a cisgender Filipino PSW and an elderly white trans woman with Alzheimer’s disease, all told through the eyes of a newborn baby. It draws upon what family, blood or chosen, can look like and the beauty of how a seemingly impossible friendship unfolds. She is able to convert the deep struggles from the difficulties, uncertainty and discrimination that can arise and has presented a story that will have the reader seeing how the impossible is always possible, it’s just about finding a way to get there.
“When people who get it, get it”
Catherine’s writing process can be best described as, “a decolonized writingship and commit to paper with ancestors helping during the time of writing so as to develop into a collection of stories that needed to be told for resilience and joy.”
The most important takeaway from the author’s most recent book, The Story of Us, is that “love is possible,” especially coming out of a global pandemic.
“We can feel helpless and there’s something about seeing an example about love. As you see in the book, The Story of Us, that it makes you feel determined to believe in love. Even just to believe in it and to make it happen in our life is just wonderful, and I hope that’s what people are inspired to do after reading – it is possible to change the way you think about the people around you and it is possible to meet people halfway.”
Catherine’s ability to convey the importance of a sense of belonging and community is opening doors for a larger audience to be inspired to tell their own stories and create the necessity of diversity in representation that is currently lacking.
Visit Catherine’s website to learn more about her work.