Archive for May, 2013

Last October I was at a conference with a friend, Hope.  I had finished a novel and was looking for an idea.  At the conference I attended a seminar on storytelling and the leader quoted Henningway’s answer to the challenge to tell a story in as few words as possible.  His response was “For sale, baby shoes, never worn.”  I was fascinated with the idea and after talking it over with Hope the entire ride home, I began this story.

Search of a Story MD

He’s searching for a story but finds so much more.

Brad Torrence is next on the chopping block at the newspaper where he works. Hungry for any source he can find, he runs across an ad in the classifieds: For Sale: Nursery Items, Never Used. It’s the lead he’s been looking for. Thinking a piece about the loss of a child will give him the edge he needs to keep his job, Brad follows up. He doesn’t expect a single man to answer.

Rather than being offended, Cory Wolfe finds sharing the story of his grief and pain liberating. He’s even surprised by the spark that strikes, and one story leads to another.

Brad digs into his stories and Cory’s life, eager to know everything about the man who’s caught his attention. But when a lead points him to the hospital where Cory works, he unearths a mystery that might have been safer left buried. Brad’s search for a story could prove deadly….

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The man on his doorstep was as young as he’d sounded on the phone, with deer-in-the-headlights eyes and a nervous smile. “Hello, I’m Brad Torrence from the Crier,” he said and extended his hand. The kid looked a bit like an excited puppy.

“Cory Wolfe,” he said, and they shook hands. Cory stepped back so Brad could enter and then closed the door. He motioned toward the living room. He waited for Brad to take a seat and then he sat in his favorite leather chair.

“This is a great room,” Brad said with a touch of awe in his voice. Then he sat and waited. Cory got the impression he was waiting for something.

“You wanted to ask me some questions? I’m a little unsure why you’d want to interview me,” Cory said. “But I’ll try to help.”

“I probably should have been more clear: I was hoping to interview both you and your wife.”

Cory smiled. “Nope. It’s just me. No wife.” That simple statement sent a stab through his stomach.

“I’m so sorry,” Brad said.

“Wait, let’s back up. There’s never been a wife. I think we have a misunderstanding of some kind. I’m not married and never have been,” Cory clarified. Brad became jittery, and for a second Cory thought he might hyperventilate.

“But the ad…,” Brad said.

“Yes. Like I said, I never had a wife, but I was getting ready to have a baby,” Cory said. “I had a partner a few years ago, but he wasn’t interested in children, though I was. That and, well, other things, doomed the relationship….”

Brad smiled and opened the notebook he’d brought, appearing distinctly more relaxed.

“Aren’t you supposed to ask me questions?” Cory asked.

“I can,” Brad said. “Your ad caught my attention, and I thought there was a story behind it. I’ll admit that I was expecting to do a story about mothers recovering from grief after the loss of a child. My mother lost three babies after me.”

Cory nodded thoughtfully and then stood up. “Come on,” he said, and Brad stood up. Cory led him up the stairs, and at the small landing, he opened the door and turned on the light. He hated entering this room now. Brad stepped inside, but Cory remained in the hallway, physically unable to enter. “This was to be Adam’s room. I picked out the furniture, painted the walls. I spent days picking out just the right color blue. Then I asked a friend to paint the teddy bears on the walls, and we even added stars to the ceiling.” Cory didn’t look up. Unable to take any more, Cory stepped away from the door and waited for Brad to come out of the room. Then Cory turned off the bedroom light and closed the door. Without saying anything more, Cory led the way down the stairs and back to the living room, where he once again sat in his chair.

“Mothers aren’t the only ones to feel grief,” Cory said flatly.

Brad nodded slowly. “What happened?” he whispered.

Cory wasn’t sure why he opened up, but he did. “About a year ago, I found out my best friend, Eileen, was pregnant. She wasn’t married and was barely able to take care of herself. Eileen was wonderful, but there wasn’t a maternal bone in her body. She’d decided that she wanted to put the baby up for adoption, and I asked if I could adopt the child.” Cory’s voice broke, and he yanked a tissue from the box on the lower shelf of the end table. He never thought he’d keep tissues in various rooms of his house, but for months now he’d needed them. “Eileen was thrilled. She would still get to be a part of her baby’s life, and that was all she wanted.”

“You said his name was Adam?” Brad prompted.

“After we found out she was having a boy, I came up with the name, and Eileen liked it, so we started referring to him as Adam. I bought the nursery things and fixed up the room upstairs. Everything was ready.” Cory paused and blew out his breath. He needed to get himself under control. What he wasn’t prepared for was Brad to reach over and touch his hand. Cory hadn’t been touched in quite a while, and he liked it. The gesture was probably a breach of journalistic integrity and objectivity or something like that, but it was what he desperately needed.

“Please, take your time,” Brad told him. “I’ll listen.” Cory thought he might have seen tears in Brad’s eyes, but it was hard to tell through his own.

“Eileen was about eight months pregnant, and she was at home. I hadn’t heard from her that day, so I stopped by after work. I found her on her kitchen floor, where she’d fallen.” Cory figured he might as well finish the story and get it over with. “The autopsy showed that she had a blood vessel burst in her brain. It was probably a defect she’d had since birth, and it burst. They said she died pretty quickly.”

Brad had taken notes throughout his story, and Cory waited for him to finish. “Did you get any help? With the grief, I mean.”

Cory shrugged. “Some. I actually found a group for people who lost children in Harrisburg—eleven women and me. The thing was, at the time I didn’t consider my grief as bad as theirs. I wasn’t the one who’d carried the child, but….”

“You still lost a child just the same,” Brad said.

Cory nodded. He does understand.


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As he answers the Skype call, Spencer’s face appears in the window. Grainy, but not freezing, his slow easy smile is shy and tentative, like he’s not sure what’s going to happen. The rapid tapping on the desktop betrays his nerves, but when JP’s corresponding picture comes up on his screen, he grins, ready for the interview.

Hi Spencer, how are you?
Hey, JP! I am good. My internet connection hates me, though. I did not think it would let me on!

Well, I’m glad it did! It’s been four years since we got to sit down and work on a book together. How’s school?
Almost over, thank God. I graduate in June. And seriously, I cannot tell you how excited I am. I want to start my life.

Have you decided what you’re going to do with your degree?
We have gotten a lot of interest on Spaaron. Companies are either looking to buy the software out right, or hire us to work for them. I keep trying to get Aaron to consider what he will do after college, but well…

How is he?
He is better than he was when we first met. Not as freaked out by things like cloudy days or train whistles. He can hold a conversation when he needs to and even joined an online therapy group. But, he still doesn’t like to be touched – doesn’t like to go out, or let people really see him. He is coping, but not really living.

And he’s still in school?
So far, though it is taking a toll on him. He likes the programming classes, but the other classes frustrate him.

Did he ever to go work for Dr. Mayer?

(A moment passes – long and pregnant.)

Okay, let’s move to something else. Has the critical or popular success of Aaron changed anything for you?
(Spencer’s smile brightens the screen, then dims to a lopsided grin.)

Well, aside from people teasing me about dating Jake Bass. (He grins again). Spencer isn’t a very common name, and being deaf makes me more recognizable. There was a bit of fanfare at school when it first came out, but Aaron and I ignored it and went on about our business.
And how do you feel that the next novel will focus more on you?
Unnerved. But there’s another one in between, right? About Juliette’s brother?

Yes, Painting Fire on the Air is finished and will be released in September.

Painting Fire, that sounds ominous.

It is.

Let’s take some questions from readers.
I think I can do that.

Our first question comes from Rosie – What adaptation for the deaf do you wish was more widely available in society?
What an interesting question. I think if I had to pick one, it would be more closed captioning for movies in the theater. I would love to be able to take Aaron to the movies and actually know what was going on.

That’s something I’m sure most people take for granted. Her follow up question is – What one thing would you want people to know about you and how you see the world?
Most people may assume because of the deafness, that I see the world in black and white with no richness or depth. That is not true. I like so many of the same things everyone else likes, just from a different perspective.
For example – I love concerts – the excitement, the vibration of the music on my skin. Because I do not hear it, my focus is more on the band and the frenzy of the crowd, but it is just as much fun for me as anyone.

It would surprise most people that you’d go to a concert at all.
A lot of things about me surprise people.

I’ll bet. 😉 Our next question comes from Karin – If you could have one wish fulfilled, what would it be?
(Spencer takes a long time to think about this one – but finally starts to type.)
I have two and since it is my interview. I am going to use them both. First, I would want to go back in time and prevent the attack on Aaron.

But then you two would probably have never met.
I know.

And the other?
I would love to meet my mom.

You wouldn’t wish for your hearing?
Why miss something I have never had when there are more important things? Sure, it would be on the list somewhere, but not at the top.

That is a great attitude to have Spencer.

Okay, Karin would also like to know – What are you looking forward to most for your future?
Right now, I cannot wait to get a job and get out on my own. I love my dad, but watching him and his new girlfriend make googly eyes at each other makes me insane. I want Aaron and me to get our lives started together. Well, it is a dream anyway.

Chris has a different question – he would like to know about your coming to terms with being gay and about your internal and external conflicts.
Well, my dad and I were close, so coming out was not really a big deal. I am sure he already knew anyway by the time I got around to telling him. At school I got the shit kicked out of me anyway for being deaf, the topic of being gay never came up. My very few friends knew. A couple of the guys in the deaf program knew. We fucked around and experimented. But really, at least for me, it was not a big deal.

That’s great, because for a lot of guys, it is.
(Spencer nods).

Out last reader question comes from Lynn. She asks – Are you secretly worried Aaron won’t ever be able to have a sexual relationship?
I would love to say that I am not, but that is a lie. I love sex. I miss sex. I love the intimate moments that Aaron and I have together, but I will not cheat on him—ever. I love him more than I thought I could love anyone. But to never have sex again, I do not know what will happen with that.

Let’s stop there because that concerns Aaron’s privacy too. Are you excited about the new book?
Yeah, it’s going to be great. I cannot wait to get started on it!

Me either! In fact, why don’t we conclude the interview here and do just that?

Thank you for sitting down with me and my readers today, Spencer.
After what you’ve done for us, JP—I am happy to.


I can’t describe what it’s like to want to scream every minute of every day.

Two years after a terrifying night of pain destroyed his normal teenage existence, Aaron Downing still clings to the hope that one day, he will be a fully functional human being. But his life remains a constant string of nightmares, flashbacks, and fear. When, in his very first semester of college, he’s assigned Spencer Thomas as a partner for his programming project, Aaron decides that maybe “normal” is overrated. If he could just learn to control his fear, that could be enough for him to find his footing again.

With his parents’ talk of institutionalizing him—of sacrificing him for the sake of his brothers’ stability—Aaron becomes desperate to find a way to cope with his psychological damage or even fake normalcy. Can his new shrink control his own demons long enough to treat Aaron, or will he only deepen the damage?

Desperate to understand his attraction for Spencer, Aaron holds on to his sanity with both hands as it threatens to spin out of control.

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Award winning romance novelist, J. P. Barnaby has penned over a dozen books including the Forbidden Room series, the Little Boy Lost series, and Aaron. As a bisexual woman, J.P. is a proud member of the GLBT community both online and in her small town on the outskirts of Chicago. A member of Mensa, she is described as brilliant but troubled, sweet but introverted, and talented but deviant. She spends her days writing software and her nights writing erotica, which is, of course, far more interesting. The spare time that she carves out between her career and her novels is spent reading about the concept of love, which, like some of her characters, she has never quite figured out for herself.

Web site: http://www.JPBarnaby.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/JPBarnaby

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JPBarnaby

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