Catalina Island News

Catalina Authors Celebrated at Catalina Island Foundation Event

Catalina Island Foundation

Seven Catalina Island authors and their books were celebrated last week in an event held at Overlook Hall last Friday. The event, hosted by Mike Rivkin, Blanny Hagenah, John Heffernan and Cliff Hague of the Catalina Island Foundation, raised funds for the Foundation which supports small non-profit organizations doing important work to benefit the Catalina Island community.

Authors were asked questions by a moderator, then fielded questions from the audience.

"CATALINA ISLAND DIVE BUDDIES" by dive enthusiast and writer Mike Rivkin and dive professional/Catalina  resident dive expert Jon Council was one of the books featured. Rivkin and Council shared their insights about the fascinating creatures in Catalina waters, and the challenges of selecting just 30 stars to focus on out of the hundreds of species in Catalina oceans.

"The book has quickly become a classic, according to numerous five-star reviews,” said Leslie Baer Dinkel, who moderated the event.

“Lauded for its fun and informative stories that wholly avoid jargon, and its 'big, juicy' illustrations by Nick Mayer, it’s called 'a must have for any dive bag' or for anyone interested in the fascinating world beneath the seas around Catalina Island,” she said, quoting from reviews.

Also featured was "WILD CATALINA ISLAND: Natural Secrets and Ecological Triumphs." Published last year by The History Press, this book also enjoys a five-star rating on Amazon and other sources. The book was written by wildlife biologist and educator Frank Hein and scientist and educator Dr. Carlos de la Rosa (now Executive Director of La Selva Biological Field Station, Costa Rica), both formerly of the Catalina Island Conservancy.

Hein, representing the author duo, shared some of his favorite facts about the Island's natural history that are featured in the book, and shared the story of a Catalina natural history myth that is tough to debunk:

"There’s a rattleless rattlesnake on the Island of Catalina—but it's not THIS Catalina," Hein noted. "That myth is one that's going to have to be constantly corrected."

Hein also shared a story about his personal satisfaction in having written the book, and as a precursor, having developed and launched a naturalist training program and trained hundreds of front-line staff on the island.

“A zip line guide told me today that a botanist who was zip lining nominated him for an award because of his understanding of Catalina’s natural environment, and the way he communicated it,” said Hein. “He thanked me for having trained him. Feedback like that is beyond satisfying.”

Reviewers herald WILD CATALINA as a “nifty, easy to read yet truly enlightening book.” Another reviewer wrote, “there was much I overlooked, misunderstood, or just plain didn't realize about Catalina Island. Fascinating!”

The final book featured, "CATALINA A-Z: A Glossary Guide to California’s Island Jewel,” was published this year by The History Press. The event welcomed authors and communications and marketing professionals Patricia Maxwell, Bob Rhein and Jerry Roberts, all formerly of the Catalina Island Conservancy.

The trio talked about their favorite facts discovered while writing the book, which Roberts first envisioned as "the ultimate go-to book for Catalina facts which can often be tough to track down and to get right," he said.

The resulting book contains everything from tales about the fascinating people for whom Catalina streets and coves were named (including correct spellings based on birth records), to a chronicle of the early construction of Avalon. The book explores myths and intrigue over the years, and "is a treasure trove of interesting and well-researched information," Baer Dinkel said.

CATALINA A-Z was heralded by the Silverfish Press as “A fascinating book...Great for islanders and visitors alike.” One of a number of five-star customer reviews said, “Made me want to go back to Catalina!”

All three books featured at the event may be purchased on the Island at The Steamer Trunk in Avalon and DC-3 Gifts and Grill at the Airport-in-the-Sky, and may be available at other locations on the Island. They can also be purchased on

The event was the first in a series of Authors Studios being hosted by The Catalina Island Foundation (CIF). Said Cliff Hague, one of CIF’s founders, “Our goal for the Author’s Studio and similar programs is to bring additional cultural and arts opportunities to the island, while at the same time raising funds to help support local community organizations.”