Friday, September 16, 2016


Today, I’d like to introduce you to Ottawa author and artist, Catina Noble. The first time I met Catina, she was taking a memoir writing course through the National Capital Region Canadian Authors Association. I was running the workshop. There were a dozen seasoned and new writers in the group, but Catina stood out as one who would blossom in the years to follow. And she did. With some poems and short stories published, her biggest undertaking, her memoir, “I’m Glad I didn’t Kill Myself” (, was released earlier in 2016. She is just releasing her first collection of short stories, “Vacancy in the Food Court”, an intellectually sensitive collection of random notations on the fragility, unpredictability and strangeness of life. Here’s what Catina has to say about her writing, her art and her life as a creative person.

EJHO: Tell us about yourself, Catina. What really started your writing career?

CN: Over the years, I had sent in a poem or two to try and get it published but wasn’t really getting anywhere. At that time, I was volunteering for a community newspaper Riverview Park Review, writing articles about different events taking place. I started getting serious about my writing in April 2013 when I was notified by Chicken Soup for the Soul that my short story Moving Forward was going to be included in the 20 th Anniversary: Readers Choice Edition coming out in June of that year. Once I held that book in my hands, things changed for me. I felt as if I had been validated. If I got published once, perhaps it could happen again. Maybe I would get more stories or poems published, maybe someone else would enjoy my words. Within a month or two of the Chicken Soup publication, I also published my first chapbook of poetry titled Pussyfoot through The Ontario Poetry Society, of which I am still a proud member.

EJHO: Catina, you write stories about a deep inner self, almost spiritual stories, how did this come about?

 CN: I have a fair bit of life experience, considering my age. That’s how my stories come about, through threads weaved from my own adventures.

EJHO: Why personal/reflective stories?

CN: During an interview, a reporter once described my work as ‘raw’ and I believe that word is appropriate. I want readers to take away something from my stories. I want readers to know they are not alone; we are all just human. We make mistakes; we get rejected; we have embarrassing moments; we have pee-your-pants funny moments, but no matter what, perhaps we just want to know that we do matter.

EJHO: What made you write this story? Do you believe it will be helpful for others who might be suicidal?

CN: I had wanted to write my story for years, over a decade, but just couldn’t seem to get past the first few pages. A couple months ago, I woke up earlier then usual and started pulling out all my old journals. I tag the outside of all my journals so I know what year they are from. I pulled out all the journals that were tagged 1993, 1994 or 1995, ages 15-17 years. I started going through them and over the next few weeks I just kept going and going until it was finished. I do believe it [my story] is helpful to others on different levels, for people that suffer from depression and anxiety, people having trouble fitting in, low self-esteem and so on.

EJHO: You are also a visual artist, tell me something about your art. Does your art heal, console? Or is it a means to relieve the tension of life?

CN: My art encompasses all three of these. However I generally use art mostly to relieve stress from my life. I am a single parent of four children between the ages of 15 and 20 years old. Plus we have 3 cats and a dog.

EJHO: Tell me something about your collection of short stories, “Vacancy in the Food Court”. These are deeply insightful stories and I see the artist in you coming through your written word.

CN: This is a collection of 13 stories. They are all very different because they don’t abide by a theme, but stand on their own.

EJHO: I think there’s a metaphor reference in the title, can you enlighten us.

CN: One day I was sipping on tea in a food court inside a mall while writing in my journal. The couple sitting beside me at a table on the left got up and walked away. I thought: this table is now vacant, but soon it will be occupied, just like so many other things in life. That is how I came up with the title for this collection.

EJHO: Why is writing so important to you?

CN: Writing is important to me for few reasons. On a personal level, looking back through my journals, I can see how far I have come. In a way, keeping a journal is like having a good friend around. There are always a couple of ideas floating around and after awhile, if I don’t write them down, more and more ideas add themselves on until I can’t seem to concentrate until I write a few down.

EJHO: What makes this particular genre you are involved in so special?

CN: Not everyone likes reading novels. Some people prefer nuggets of words (a.k.a short stories) instead. I like writing short stories because my characters don’t have as much time to compete and it’s easier to try new things inside the scope of a short story.

EJHO: Do you keep a diary? If the answer is yes, does it help with your writing and how? If the answer is no, why not?

CN: I have kept a journal since I was 15 years old and still do. I find it does help me with my writing on different levels. Along with personal anecdotes, I also jot down different ideas for stories, or key words from an experience that just happened.

EJHO: You use the written word in your visual art. What is it about the written language that is so important to your creative output?

CN: I like using the written word in my art because it keeps it simple and I think it is also a good way of tying my love for writing and art together.

EJHO: What inspires your writing and your stories?

CN: Every day little things inspire my writing and stories. For example, I was walking over a bridge carrying groceries when I suddenly spotted a bunch of crows gathered in a parking lot. From this I wrote “Counting Crows”.

EJHO: What, according to you, is the hardest thing about writing?

CN: I think the hardest thing about writing is to remember it is a process, not every single story or book, you write is going to be your best piece. I spend way too much valuable time criticizing my writing when I should be just actually writing.

EJHO: What would you say is the easiest aspect of writing?

CN: For me the easiest part of writing is right after I get an idea. I take a few minutes to jot down notes, experiences and feelings that I might use later on.

EJHO: Do you have a favourite story amongst all that you’ve published. Why this one?

CN: I don’t believe I have written my favourite story yet but I do like “Counting Crows” and “Gently Used.” I like “Counting Crows” because the story (after spotting the scene in the parking lot with the crows) just seemed to unfold by itself. I like “Gently Used” because it’s different kind of story.

EJHO: In the age of increasing technological advances in the methods of entertainment, where do you feel your books fit? Do you believe that the growing number of non-readers is a threat to the book industry? Are you concerned?

CN: I believe there is still room for my books. I don’t mind reading books on different devices but my favourite is reading from an actual book. I love the weight of the book in my hands, the sound of the pages turning, using a book mark and seeing it move forward. I do believe the growing number of technological advances and non-readers are a concern. It seems inevitable that eventually print books as we know it will become extinct. I hope that doesn’t happen during my life time.

EJHO: Thank you Catina, for sharing your insights on the art of writing as well as art itself.

Catina Noble, Author & Mixed Media Artist

“You ever get the feeling that everyone is laughing and somehow you know they are laughing at you? I hate that feeling and I seem to get it often and what everybody doesn’t understand is that it hurts deep down inside. It hurts a lot. Just when you think you are balanced WHAM it hits you like a ton of bricks.” – Excerpt from I’M GLAD I DIDN’T KILL MYSELF by Catina Noble (Published by Crowe Creations)

Amazon link to order

1 comment:

  1. I loved Catina's explanation of her writing. She is obviously a worthy person and author. Thanks for sharing.