Born and raised in Los Angeles, Catherine Kirkwood has lived in York England and now calls Seattle home. She graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College and a D.Phil. in Women’s Studies from the University of York. Her fiction and creative non-fiction appears in anthologies and her non-fiction text, Leaving Abusive Partners, has been translated and sold internationally.
Her first novel Cut Away is from Arktoi Books, an imprint of Red Hen Press.
In addition to writing, Catherine has worked for fifteen years in the field of cancer research. She lives with her partner, Kayleen, in a small cottage with a large, untamed garden where two cats and and Jetson the border collie make a world ruled by its own natural laws.
Publication Date: April 1, 2010
Kirkwood’s slender, desolate-feeling first novel, set between the California desert and L.A., hinges on an intricate emotional triangle revolving around a teenage runaway. Alexandra, a middle-aged transvestite living a celibate life on the Salton Sea, befriends the runaway, Olivia, at the girl’s desert campsite before Olivia disappears. Eleanor, an L.A. plastic surgeon and a lonely lesbian, saw Olivia once in her office and later unknowingly gives a consult to Olivia’s unstable mother, Asa, who has for several years cleaned Eleanor’s office at night and begins to track the surgeon’s whereabouts once she discovers the doctor’s connection to Olivia. Meanwhile, Alexandra, enjoying a flirtation with the surgeon that begins after a body that might be Olivia’s is found, stays at Eleanor’s canyon home for a month, visited occasionally by Asa, disguised as a door-to-door cosmetics saleswoman. Once Kirkwood maps out the particulars, every maneuver on the part of these characters is fraught with tension. Kirkwood’s exploration of personal and spiritual metamorphosis is all the more powerful for its surprising subtleties.