article and photos by Carla Coles
Crunching through the snow, a shared driveway between two red brick century homes brings me to the faded green door of Stratford author Barbara Storey. There is a small shed adrift in the deep backyard blanket and last year's grapevines still cling to the chainlink fence. I ring the bell and, after a few minutes of shuffling, there is a click and I am welcomed inside. A small kitchen leads into the living room. A desk claims most of the room. Clamoring for attention is a large TV, offset by a purple couch and guest chair. The couch obviously belongs to the small group of cats – one of whom notices my intrusion, gives me the once-over, deems me acceptable then moves on to his busy cat schedule.
There is an offer of tea as my host disappears into the kitchen. The main floor apartment is tidy, almost sparse. Art, owls and books punctuate the space. A closer look at the two large bookcases reveal an eclectic gathering of horror, young adult and classics sharing their shelves. Her home is exactly what you would expect. She is not.
“Internet famous” with her blog and her photos. Most recently making the paper for being the recipient of a fundraising effort for a treatment to aid in her living with her illness. The reason for my visit was the release of her first book. A collection of erotic short stories.
“So, where shall we start?”
Barbara laughs, gaining confidence, and plunges in. She grew up in Stratford. She cites a love for words fostered by her Grandmother, her Aunt Kate and many afternoons spent with the dictionary as the fertile ground her writing sprung from. Minutes later, she is digging through a box and produces a play she wrote when she was but thirteen. She grows quiet, lost in the boxes contents. Then with a mischievous smile she looks back to me.
“I was a nun, you know.”
Settling back in the chair. Her eyes sparkling. A storyteller with a captive audience. All nervousness is cast aside. This is her element. The joy of having a dramatic and unusual life path and the ability to share the tale comes together in the warmth and familiarity of her living room.
Barbara has divided her timeline into three chapters. Childhood and her early days in Stratford. The nun years. Starting in New York City her school and faith taking center stage, all while balancing a career as an editor. The current chapter being The Sick. The fallout from 9/11 includes her losing her job and returning to her hometown, only to succumb to an illness. The fabric of these stories is sewn together with the common thread of writing. The strongest of these being fan fiction.
“These stories spoke above their roots and became stand-alone. It’s about creating a world where people will find a place to play. Gene Roddenberry called it ‘Open Texture’ “ She quips. “I want to do that. Put myself in and imagine the possibilities.”
Again, growing quiet.
“I suck at relationships.” She looks down at the cat still in her lap, stroking his head absentmindedly. “Here I get it right. Romance the way it should be.”
“It’s what I write well.” And indeed she does. Barbara’s first Book is available
You can also find her on Facebook.
Look for her second book coming soon.