Project Description

Catherine lives and teaches English and Social Studies to middle school students in the heart of the Silicon Valley, Santa Clara. She tells her students daily that writing will make them immortal, pointing out that ancient civilizations that had a written language are still studied two thousand years later while cultures without a writing system disappeared with the wind.

American Family came to her with characters, Richard and Michael first and the plot followed. Around the same time, she joined the summer institute of the Writing Project at San Jose State University in 2006. In the afternoons, everyone was required to write; most wrote about education. Catherine wrote this novel.

It took ten years to write. She observed in Family Court, interviewed lawyers and a judge, and read the Supreme Court ruling on grandparents’ rights with a lawyer.

She is married and has three adult children, two grand dogs and one dachshund who has nothing wrong with his nose. She graduated from UC Berkeley with a bachelor’s degree in English in 1977, and a certificate in Creative Writing from UCLA. She was short listed for the James Kirkwood Award in 2012.


Richard and Michael are celebrating their three years of sobriety by moving in to Michael’s bungalow in Manhattan Beach, California. While Michael is at work, Richard impulsively makes a phone call to his ten year old daughter who is in the custody of her mom’s parents in Oregon. Richard knows he should have discussed this with Michael but they did talk about connecting with Brady when the time was right. They just hadn’t identified when that time would be. Richard, on this day, at this hour, with boxes of his belongings in chaos around him, decided now was the right time.

In making this phone call he starts the juggernaut of family law that threatens to destroy all that is good in his life.

Things get worse as the couple learns that both Brady and her grandparents, who have been her parents for five years since her mother’s death, are fundamentalist Christians.

Both parties lawyer up only to find that the lawyers have their own agendas that supersede the needs of this family.

Events move smoothly in court for Richard and Michael until the possibility of Brady’s witnessing a questionable sexual situation is suggested and magnified by the grandparents’ attorney. Brady is whisked back to Oregon and the men have to decide how much they are willing to endure to get her back.