I always love to interview authors, but this one is especially near and dear to me. Catherine is not only my critique partner and a good friend, but her debut novel, FLIP TURNS is with Jolly Fish Press. So we are now pub-sisters!
I am so happy for Catherine and delighted the world gets to read her book. She is an incredibly gifted writer, and I am positive this is just the beginning of a very successful career.
I already know she’s fabulous, now it’s time you do, too!
Lisa: Tell us about Flip Turns.
Catherine: Okay! Flip Turns is a Middle Grade mystery featuring Maddie, a thirteen-year-old girl with anxiety who is struggling with the unwanted attention of a boy at school. When her family’s community pool is vandalized, threatening Maddie’s swim team, Maddie and her best friend Ez search for the culprit while dealing with friend and family dynamics, competitive swimming, and crushes.
Flip Turns comes out on September 13!
Lisa: What inspired the idea for this book?
Catherine: I swam on a summer swim team (Go Piranhas!) like Maddie’s while I was growing up. In the 14 summers on that team, we had our share of pranks and catastrophes. When my daughter started swimming on a team a few years ago, I got to thinking, what if those “pranks” and “accidents” weren’t really accidents or weren’t just pranks? What would make someone want to cause problems at a pool?
Lisa: Did you base any characters on people you know?
Catherine: Heh. Yeah. But I can’t tell you some of them to protect the people involved! I can tell you that both my middle school daughter and I have anxiety, so a lot of Maddie’s feelings and reactions are based on our experiences. But the closest to real-life character is Maddie’s big brother Jack who’s teasing yet loving personality is much like my own brother’s. And like Jack, my brother was a lifeguard adored by all the girls!
Lisa: How much of your real-life experiences play a role in the stories you tell?
Catherine: A lot! In Flip Turns, the swim meets and practices came straight out of my own memory. Also, I had an unwanted admirer in middle school and heard a lot of “Just be nice to him.” I wanted that inappropriate attention to be something we talk about instead of something we try to ignore.
Lisa: What was your hardest scene to write, and why?
Catherine: There’s a scene at the first swim meet where Lucas (the unwanted admirer) tries to hug Maddie. She’s only wearing her bathing suit and shorts and gets very uncomfortable. Every time I worked on that scene, I got the creeps. It’s a super cringey moment. But I think it’s authentic. Hugging is a big thing in middle school, but not everyone likes it.
Lisa: Which of your characters are most likely to be an activist, and what kind?
Catherine: I think Maddie’s best friend Ez would be an activist. She’s very driven and persistent in reaching her swimming goals, and she acts like a bit of an activist towards Maddie, encouraging her to stand up for herself and what she wants. Ez is the person throughout Flip Turns who keeps reminding Maddie that the attention from Lucas is inappropriate. I could see her being an activist for sexual harassment awareness and policy.
Lisa: Which of the characters do you relate to the most and why?
Catherine: I definitely relate to Maddie, the main character. Like I said above, we both have anxiety, and we’re both little sisters. We also both struggled to deal with the attention of that unwanted admirer, while at the same time enjoying crushes on nice boys. We have some differences though—Maddie loves art while I was more interested in reading and writing.
Lisa: What books did you like to read when you were a kid?
Catherine: I loved mysteries – Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, this wonderful series called T.A.C.K. that I’m pretty sure is sadly out of print now. I definitely wanted to be an amateur sleuth like the characters in those books. I’m also a fan of Astrid Lindgren – I loved Pippi Longstocking, but her lesser-known book Ronia the Robber’s Daughter is one of my favorite MG’s of all time.
Lisa: If you could spend a day with another popular author, whom would you choose?
Catherine: I really enjoy Erin Entrada Kelly’s books, and I’d love to watch her do school visits and meet readers.
Lisa: What advice would you give twelve-year-old, Catherine?
Catherine: I would encourage 12yo me to be more assertive in dealing with that unwanted admirer. I’d tell her to be clear about the discomfort, not just with him but also with adults and friends. And I’d tell her to worry less about what other people thought. Both of my kids have so much more confidence than I did as a middle schooler, and it’s a joy to watch them navigate the drama and social situations without a lot of the hurt and awkwardness I felt. I want to be more like my kids!
Lisa: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me. I can hardly wait to celebrate your Book Birthday!
Catherine: Thanks, friend.
About Catherine Arguelles
Before writing novels, Catherine earned a BA in English with a minor in Women’s Studies and a MA in Psychology and Counseling. She has worked as a counselor with middle school students, a fundraiser for non-profits, and is the proud parent of two feminist readers. She lives in Northern California, and her favorite event was once the 100-yard backstroke.