The Author

My name is Kate Raphael.  In 2002, I signed up to go to Palestine for two weeks with the International Solidarity Movement.  It so happened that the day after we arrived, Israel invaded the West Bank in retaliation for a bombing that had been carried out in Nazareth on the first night of Passover.  Bethlehem, where we were staying, was one of the hardest hit of the Palestinian cities.  A few friends and I stayed in a refugee camp called Aida, just outside of Bethlehem.  We hoped that our presence there would discourage the Israeli army from carrying out massive raids against the civilians of the camps, and it may have.  The Bethlehem camps were spared the massacres that befell Jenin Camp that April.  I didn’t speak any Arabic, and the family I stayed with spoke no English, but we found ways to communicate.   I shared their fear, their curfews, their scrounging for food during the siege, although we always ate well – better than they did, I think.  The kids taught me lots of games that I still remember.

Six months later, I returned to Palestine to work with a new project called the International Women’s Peace Service.  We were a group of 16 women who each committed to spend three months per year for three years in a small village in the northern West Bank.  After my first three months, I decided it was not long enough.  The next time I went back, I remained for six months, and the time after that I stayed for nine.  I would have stayed a little longer but I was arrested during a demonstration against the Wall that Israel was building on Palestinian land in that area – a wall that has choked off much of the economic vitality of the region and denies Palestinians the ability to study, work and meet as families.    I was imprisoned for a month in an immigration detention center and then deported after my appeal was denied.  (I based my appeal on the argument that Israel had no right to deport me, since I was arrested in Palestine and I had an invitation from the Palestinian Ministry of State.)

Shortly before my arrest, I was riding with some friends and as we passed a particular spot, I said, “This would be a great place for a mystery to begin.”  I have been an avid mystery reader for many years.  So on my next break, I started writing Murder Under the Bridge, and when I returned home in 2005, I settled into writing in earnest.  The book has now been through four drafts, quite a number of people have helped me by reading it and giving feedback and suggestions, I had editing help from a wonderful editor and an agent who was interested in it for a while.  I have gotten some very nice comments from publishers, but always with the inevitable “but” – not appropriate for our list, can’t adequately market it at this time …

So I decided not to wait any longer, but to put it out there for you to read and hopefully enjoy, and if there are things that don’t work, I’m sure you’ll tell me!  And maybe eventually it will be published for real, in this incarnation or another, but right now, I am working on the second in the series, Murder Under the Fig Tree.

I live in Oakland, California, where I’m active in a lot of progressive movements, especially opposing U.S. militarism, women’s and queer liberation, and Palestine solidarity, of course.  For money, I word process at a big national law firm, and I am a volunteer producer on a women’s radio show.

I blog at

  1. Daniel Mayfield
    February 12, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    Kate: Really looking forward to this.

  2. Maya
    February 15, 2010 at 12:42 am

    Dear Kate,

    the first chapter of Murder Under the Bridge tore me away from my ecnomics essay, and you carried me to a landscape very different than the library I sit in right now. Thank you for posting the first two chapters – I do hope this essay gets written soon, it is due on Tuesday, but I may have to read chapter 2 first…

    I am an Israeli American getting my ba in Southern Cali and I would love to ask you some questions, if you have an email address I could write to (I imagine you could email me through the address I entered above, if you’d be willing). I come in peace, though if you’d rather remain uncontacted, of course I respect that.

    Off to read and write, sincerely, Maya

  3. Jane Welford
    August 14, 2010 at 5:06 am

    Hi Kate, I began reading your most recent chapter this evening and then jumped to your first chapter.
    So glad that you’re writing. Lovely to read.
    My sister Gabrielle is coming from Eureka this weekend to live with me while getting chemo treatment for ovarian cancer. I’ll read it to her. She’ll love it too.

  4. arusha
    May 28, 2011 at 10:44 am

    how strange! i spent a few days at Aida Camp at the same time…we must have met!
    it was a wonderful surprise to find your blog; i just finished the first chapter, and look forward to reading more…will share it around!
    all the very best, and thanks for your work and writing!

  5. arusha
    May 28, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    another thought….have you tried sharing your work with Henning Mankell…? He was part of the Freedom Flotilla after all, and an established author of crime fiction like Mankell would, i sure, love to read your work, and may have ideas for you publishing it….

    • May 28, 2011 at 7:27 pm

      Oh, I remember you. You were there for about a week, right? I think we stayed together the first night, you’re from Italy? or were living there? Okay, I’m fuzzy on the details but I remember you well. Thanks for the idea – I will contact him. xxx, kate

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