A bit about me and a summary of each of my books…
About me from Penguin Random House:
In 1999 Catherine Gildiner published her first book, a humorous memoir of her childhood called Too Close to the Falls. The story is told through the eyes of young Cathy McClure (Gildiner) who, at the age of four, is put to work assisting the delivery man who works for her father’s pharmacy, in order to curb what the local pediatrician considers her hyperactivity. Gildiner was prompted to write the book after a friend kept bugging her to write down all the crazy stories she had from her childhood — even though Gildiner thought her upbringing quite ordinary. After writing the first chapter she mailed it away to a publisher, not expecting much to come of her efforts, but it wasn’t long before she received an almost unbelievable reply: an advance cheque in the mail, with a Post-it Note saying “finish it.” The memoir was published in Canada, the United States, England and Australia to wide acclaim, received award nominations and spent more than 70 weeks on Canadian bestseller lists. “I was surprised and amazed that people would be interested in what I call a happy, normal childhood,” Gildiner has commented, “but I’ve now come to see it’s not as normal as I thought.”
Gildiner was born in 1948 in Lewiston, New York, and came to Canada in 1970. After completing an M.A. and a Ph.D. in psychology, she established her private practice, and worked as a clinical psychologist for more than twenty-five years. She also writes journalistic pieces for various newspapers and wrote a monthly column for Chatelaine. Gildiner lives in Toronto, Ontario, with her husband and three sons, and was on a masters rowing team that rows competitively worldwide.
Update: I’ve now published my second memoir, After the Falls, and most recently, my third and last installment, Coming Ashore.
About Coming Ashore
Picking up her story in the late ’60s at age 21, Cathy Gildiner whisks the reader through five years and three countries, beginning when she is a poetry student at Oxford. Her education extended beyond the classroom to London’s swinging Carnaby Street, the mountains of Wales, and a posh country estate.
After Oxford, Cathy returns to Cleveland, Ohio, which was still reeling from the Hough Ghetto Riots. Not one to shy away from a challenge, she teaches at a high school where police escort teachers through the parking lot. There, she tries to engage apathetic students and tussles with the education authorities.
In 1970, Cathy moves to Canada. While studying literature at the University of Toronto, she rooms with members of the FLQ (Quebec separatists) and then with one of the biggest drug dealers in Canada. Along the way, she falls in love with the man who eventually became her husband and embarks on a new career in psychology.
Coming Ashore brings readers back to a fascinating era populated by lively characters, but most memorable of all is the singular Cathy McClure.
About After the Falls
It’s 1960 and twelve–year–old Cathy McClure has just been thrown out of Catholic school for—among other transgressions—filling the holy water font with vodka. In the hopes of giving Cathy a fresh start, her parents decide to leave their small–town life in Lewiston, New York—a town near Niagara Falls brought to life in Catherine Gildiner’s first memoir, Too Close to the Falls—bidding farewell to the family business, lifelong friends, and the only home Cathy’s ever known. Arriving in suburban Buffalo, Cathy’s sardonic mother dubs their new surroundings “Tinytown.” Life in a subdivision and a school filled with “pubescent cheddar” holds little appeal for a girl who began working at four and smoking at nine.
While adjusting to life in Buffalo, Cathy’s relationship with her father also experiences growing pains. His 1950s–era ideal of how a young woman should behave often clashes—sometimes painfully—with Cathy’s increasingly complex, passionate notions of her own development. Gildiner recounts the infamous “Donnybrook” incident, a harbinger of turmoil to come, when Cathy’s father roughly intervenes upon catching her giddily flirting with an older boy on the steps of the church. It is the first time he has seen Cathy as more than his little girl, and the experience is traumatic for both of them. Her father admonishes her by saying, “Girls that chase boys come to a bad end. You looked like the kind of girl I don’t want for my daughter” (p. 24). His hurtful words begin a rift in their relationship that only grows with time.
Cathy struggles with her burgeoning womanhood. Popularity is paramount in high school and Cathy tries to be liked while also striving to be a smart aleck. She develops different personas—neighborhood vandal, Howard Johnson’s hostess, FBI suspect, civil rights demonstrator—with plenty of confidence and a bit of false bravado.
As she gains her footing and turns her attentions to the twin pursuits of social equality and financial independence, Cathy begins to take on the real world in Buffalo and beyond. At the very moment she’s about to step outside the confines of Tinytown, however, tragedy strikes at home. Her father’s erratic behavior escalates into strange new territory and Cathy must step up to the task of caring both for him and her sheltered mother.
Against the backdrop of the tumultuous ’60s—the assassinations of John F. and Bobby Kennedy, the civil rights movement, and the Vietnam War—Catherine Gildiner gives us a deeply personal, moving and often hilarious portrait of her life in her signature irresistible voice.
About Too Close to the Falls
Heartbreaking and wicked: a memoir of stunning beauty and remarkable grace. Improbable friendships and brushes with death. A schoolgirl affecting the course of aboriginal politics. Elvis and cocktails and Catholicism and the secrets buried deep beneath a place that may be another, undiscovered Love Canal – Lewiston, New York. Too Close to the Falls is an exquisite, haunting return, through time and memory, to the heart of Catherine Gildiners childhood.
And what a childhood it was.
During her decade in prison, Kate Fitzgerald has learned a few things. The best way to survive is to absorb yourself in your own world. Never make eye contact with your fellow inmates. And the last person you can trust is your prison psychiatrist – not only is he likely to be lazy and incompetent (really, why else wouldn’t he be getting rich off of well-heeled clients instead?) but if you complain about him you’re going to be labelled as a “permanent malcontent” and denied parole. So when Dr. Gardonne offers Kate a temporary absence and a job working for him, she only takes it because she knows that turning him down could be worse for her in the long run – counted in prison years, of course. But the real challenge is figuring out why he would choose her.
On the surface, it’s pretty clear. Kate has spent her incarceration immersing herself in the writings of Sigmund Freud, and has become a recognized expert on his work. Dr. Gardonne represents the members of a psychoanalytic organization that is being attacked at its core: Anders Konzak, the hand-picked director of the Freud academy, has been boasting to the media that his new research on Freud will bring the entire profession of psychoanalysis to its knees. He’s also been receiving death threats. And Kate, as an outsider, is the only one Konzak will talk to. Though she doesn’t trust Gardonne, Kate accepts his offer, and she races to uncover Konzak’s secrets before he publishes his work.
Never one to work well with others, Kate is less than thrilled to find out Gardonne has hired a private detective to be her partner. Jackie Lawton is a hardened ex-con who has spent most of his life in prison and only recently turned things around by starting his own business. From the moment the two meet, Kate sees that it won’t be easy working with a man who isn’t really interested in the intellectual battle at hand and who keeps her prison time at the forefront of every conversation. And can he really be trusted? When key players – who were all last seen with Kate – begin to turn up dead, there’s the very real possibility she’s being set up by Gardonne. After all, who would believe the word of a convict serving time for murdering her husband? All she can hope is that following the threads of Konzak’s research to his sources will keep her one step ahead of Gardonne and lead her to the real killer.
With Seduction, Catherine Gildiner gives us not only a gripping detective story full of shifting characters and fast-paced twists but a remarkable intellectual thriller. Through the letters and papers of Sigmund Freud, Charles Darwin and the venerable Wedgwood family, Gildiner brings the personalities and ideological conflicts of the past to life in the present. Along the way we meet an assortment of characters, from social misfits to the demure but resolute Anna Freud, who is still living in the London house where she brought her ailing father for the last year of his life, and where she actively guards his legacy. The story takes us from Toronto to Vienna, London, the Isle of Wight, New York and back again to Toronto – each locale seen through the eyes of Kate, who relishes in the beauty of a world that has been denied to her for a decade.
From the Hardcover edition.
About my professional life:
For those interested in my professional accomplishments, here are a few things I’ve worked on over the years:
B.A (1970) and M.A. in English Literature (1971) M.A in Psychology (1975) and Ph.D in Psychology (1983)
Author, novelist, columnist, screenwriter, clinical psychologist
Worked at Lakeshore Psychiatric, Clarke Research Institute, taught at University of Toronto and York University, private practice 1985-2001
IMPACT a full-length feature film script featuring two women cell mates who are temporarily paroled through a government program termed I.M.P.A.C.T. (optioned)
Too Close to the Falls optioned for movie in 2008, Producer Rhombus Productions. Screenwriters Susan Coyne and Martha Burns. (under development)
Monthly columnist for Chatelaine Magazine
Psychological advice column entitled, “For the asking…Dr. Gildiner” 1993-2005
Humorous essays published in The Globe and Mail
• “One Of A Kind”, August 7, 2004.
• “Tramping through Midlife”, July, 2004
• “Unreal Estate”, January 30, 1991, horror of house hunt
• “Father Knows Best Say My Three Sons”, May 1, 1991, children describe their mother (me) in an experiment
• “Annex Nervosa”, August 3, 1991, hell of renovation
• “The Terror of Living With Teens”, November 6, 1992, Why does no one prepare you for life with teenagers?
• “The Book of Common Fare”, June 7, 1994, Woman lands from Mars to learn the language and its meaning at earthling family dinner.
• “How I Survived 18 Festivals and Lived to Tell the Tale,” September 10, 1994, filmgoers view of Toronto Film festival’s organization, and the film critics
• “Heads Up, Good Samaritans”, April 9, 1997, Look at God in an Ikea parking lot
• Spectator piece, “Selling a Memoir”, December 14, 1999, Book tour in a Buffalo Ghetto
• “Publish and Perish”, in press, what can go wrong at a book launch
• “Book Tours”, December 14, 1999
Humorous articles in Reader’s Digest
• “Facing a Midlife Crisis”, April, 2000, my visit to a plastic surgeon
• “Horns a Plenty” The elk in Banff, April, 2001
Social commentary in The Globe and Mail
• “Banning books at the Library” May 6, 1993, censorship and political correctness
• “We’ve Lost our Homing Instincts” January 5, 2000, an expose on the loss of domestic space, particularly family dinner
• “My favourite Book” October 7, 2000
Book reviews in The Globe and Mail
• Charles Darwin’s Letters, June 1996
• Seeing through Places: Reflections on Geography and Identity by Mary Gordon, February 2000
• Black, White and Jewish, by Rebecca Walker, Feb 2001
• The Girl Without Anyone by Kelli Deeth, July 2001
• Beyond Crazy: Journeys Through Mental Illness by Julia Nunes and Scott Simmie, Nov. 2002
Sports and Geography
• “To Be oar not to be”, a humorous article about my women’s master’s rowing team, October, Aviron Magazine.
• “A chilly 50”, in press, a humorous look at trying to keep up in the windsurfing world. CBC reading May 30, 2000
• “Niagara Falls” Canadian Geographic, April 2000
I have written 21 scripts for Ideas, a CBC radio show. I list only highlights.
• “Twins” 2 hour presentation
• “Intelligence” 2 hour presentation
• “Speciation: how we’ve evolved”
• “Freud: The mind of a man”
• “Biology vs. Destiny”
Interests and Accomplishments
• Western New York high jump champion, 1963
• Scholarship to Oxford 1972
• Volunteer for Battered Women’s shelter — founding board member and fundraiser — opened 20-room facility
• Masters Rowing team – racing team 1995-2007
• Married 40 Years – 3 children (Is that an interest or an accomplishment?)