THE TOWN CRIER, Wellington, Florida - February 21, 2003
For The Love Of Writing: Local Author Barbara Casey
Author Barbara Casey is truly a “Jill of all trades.” If it has to do with words and writing, the 10-year resident of the
western communities is involved in it. Besides writing, Casey is a literary agent, runs an editorial business, is
contributing editor to a literary journal, and is the regional contact for the Children’s Books Writers & Illustrators
Association — all out of her Wellington home.
The Illinois native grew up in North Carolina, where she fell in love with the writing process. “I think I had that love,”
Casey said. “All children love to write poems and playing around with words to make them rhyme. I won a couple of
contests when I was young for little things that I cranked out.”
As an adult, Casey became public relations director at a college in North Carolina, but took some time off to see if
she could make a career as a writer. She promised herself that if she met with success, she wouldn’t return to the job.
The rest of her career speaks for itself. If it involves writing, she’s involved in it.
“The first book I wrote was a middle grade novel, and it included a contract for a second book,” Casey said. “That
started me, and I’ve been writing ever since. I write for children and for adults. I write poetry, and I write articles for
Her first books were coming-of-age novels. One, titled Leilani Zan, was about a young girl living in Hawaii. Following
that was Grandma Jock and Christabelle, about a young girl dealing with her grandmother’s Alzheimer’s disease. The
books are right between middle grade and young adult level, she said, so they’re perfect for youngsters working out
such important issues.
Shyla’s Initiative, Casey’s latest novel and her first for adult readers, is about a young married woman’s foray into the
Caribbean cult religion of Santeria as her life is spinning out of control. Casey had to do a great deal of research, and
some practitioners of the religion were distrustful of her.
“A lot of them were afraid I’d put a negative slant on Santeria,” Casey said, “but I focused on the good aspects of it,
and how it helps people. A lot of people believe that it’s similar to all the things they’ve heard about ‘voodoo.’ It’s not.
Santeria is an ancient religion that comes from Africa. It adopted the same characteristics as Catholicism. A lot of gods
are named after Catholic saints.”
Right after the book’s release, Casey met a Santeria priest at a writer’s conference in Miami, who asked if her name
was Barbara, and if she had written the book. Casey replied she had, and she said the priest was put at ease, she said.
“He said they have a St. Barbara that holds a prominent position in their sacrificial rituals,” Casey said. “I thought that
was interesting. He bought one of the books.”
The book itself is what she calls a “warm, wholesome, nice love story,” and has no scariness in it at all, Casey noted.
The publisher liked it so much that she asked what other books Casey was working on. For the record, there are six
others in the works. Her next to be released is called The Coach’s Wife, a look at what it’s like behind the scenes at
collegiate sports from a woman’s perspective. Waiting in the wings, Casey has also written Just Like Family, about a
woman writer, and The House of Kane, about a publishing house.
Casey admits that all her novels are somewhat autobiographical, but that is just the nature of the craft. “Anything that
you write has a little autobiographical material in it,” she said, “but the emotions are different. They are just products of
my imagination. They are so different. It’s a completely different setting and storyline, but I know the frustrations that go
with being a writer.”
Although she traveled quite a bit when younger, Casey is now settled in Wellington and doesn’t want to leave. Much
of her family now lives around South Florida. “I love it here,” she said. “I used to travel, but I’ve gotten so rooted.”
It seems amazing to Casey that she has actually been able to make a career as a writer work. She admits that a
writing career is hard, particularly in the computer era, because everyone wants to write. Publishers and agents are
deluged with submissions. As an agent, Casey helps other writers find their niche. “If I’m successful in helping someone
get published,” she said, “I get just as thrilled as they do.”