Kaye Barley is a frequent poster on DorothyL and a very fun person. I've enjoyed corresponding with her, and I'm sure you will enjoy her, too.
Your dog’s name is Harley. So . . . that would make him Harley Barley? :)
Uh huh. Harley Barley. Isn’t that silly?! My husband Donald really wants a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Thank goodness we can’t afford one ‘cause they scare me to death. So, for the time being, he’s willing to settle for a little Harley on four legs instead of on four wheels. Short itty bitty little legs that will make you laugh out loud when you see him. Harley is a little one year old Corgi.
Boone, you’ve told me, is “in the very northwestern corner of North Carolina. Beautiful itty bitty small town in the mountains.” This does sound lovely. Have you always lived there? If not, how did you end up in a little bitty town in the corner of NC?
We moved here in 1997. Small town living is not new to me however. I was born and raised in a small town on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Water everywhere; it is just beautiful. I loved growing up there and I still love it and go back as often as I can. From there I went to Brandywine College in Wilmington, Delaware. From there I moved to Atlanta in 1969. But Donald and I both grew weary of big city living. We’re basically homebodies and our time we get to spend at home is very important to us. Spending a huge amount of time in traffic along with some pretty intense people, to go to work or attend an event just was not something we were interested in doing any longer. Donald was very familiar with this area ‘cause he went to high school just a couple of hours away in Charlotte, NC. He always said he’d live here someday, and by golly – here we are. It has been a great move and we’re awfully happy here. It’s a beautiful part of the world where nature is an important part of people’s lives; you’ll have to come for a visit! If life were fair though, we’d live part of the year in Cambridge, MD, and part of the year here in Boone. Brandywine College no longer exists; its now part of Whitener College. And the Atlanta that I dearly loved in the early 70’s no longer exists either. It would be wonderful if Boone as I know and love it wouldn’t disappear too, but I’ve already watched it grow and change in the few years we’ve been here. People have discovered the area and the number of “second homes” being bought and built is on a sharp rise.
When did you first join DorothyL?
I’m not sure what year it was, but it was very early on. It was probably 1994 or 5 when I discovered it. I do remember that one of my first postings was about a soon to be published book by an unknown writer. I read a review in a travel magazine about this book that was being described as a “true crime/travelogue” type book. That was a new one on me! But the write-up was so good I asked one of the local bookstores to call me when it arrived. The book was Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt.
I think DorothyL sets the standard for discussion groups. The moderators are just the best and I can’t say enough about what a good job they do. I sometimes leave the list for periods of time, but always come back. I seem to go through phases of contributing, or not contributing due to a wide variety of reasons. Sometimes life just gets in the way – you know; like a major move from one state to another, or I just get busy with other “stuff.” I think it’s an interesting place to hang out. Don’t you think so? I sure wouldn’t have the huge list of books and new authors I want to read if it weren’t for DorothyL. Nor would I have had the opportunity to meet a whole bunch of really interesting people; readers and writers.
Have you always loved mysteries?
Always. They’re not the only type of books I read, but I’d have to say that most of the books I read are mysteries. I also love southern novels and writers. Like Clyde Edgerton and Lee Smith. And yep – I was one of the many who started out with Nancy Drew books as a little girl, and I still have a few of those that were given to me as birthday or Christmas gifts. Unfortunately, I don’t have them all ‘cause I loaned them to friends and they didn’t find their way back home. I don’t think I’ve gotten over that just yet.
If you were going to lend a book to a friend today, which book would it be?
I think most of my friends would tell you how persnickety I am about lending my books (see my answer to the question above!). I’m awful! I’m sure its one of the things I need some professional help with – one of many. If I find a book I really want my friends to read I’ll usually troll around used books stores and find a copy I can buy and give them. There’s one book I keep buying and giving away and have been for years. Ann Fairbairn’s Five Smooth Stones. It was published in 1966 or 67. I think it’s an important book, beautifully written and timeless. If I could write, that’s the book I would have written. Do I have to stop with “a” book?! That’s kinda mean, Julia! I’m just kidding. There are a beezillion books I love, but its actually very easy for me to choose that one as the one I “push” on people. Its been a hit with everyone I know who has read it. And I happen to have an extra copy right here. I’m gonna send it to you, O.K.?
The mystery I’d lend, or give, a friend today would be Laurie King’s Folly. I really really love this book.
People have responded positively to your posts, not only because you are charming, but because you seem to have a lot of common sense. Would you say this is true of you?
Well, Julia, thank you – that was sweet. I don’t know about charming, unless people don’t mind me being an opinionated, out-spoken ol’ soul. I am that. My friend Vickie has said, “If you don’t REALLY want Kaye’s opinion on something, you better not ask her.” Opinions are good. People who stand up for their views and ideals and opinions are to be admired. However, those folks who want to beat you over the head with their opinion in an effort to bring you over to their point of view just bore me to tears.
Yes, I guess I do have a fair amount of good common sense. If I do, I’ve gotten it honestly from both my parents. And can’t common sense carry us far? And so can old fashioned common courtesy. Another thing I learned from my parents.
It does seem that folks at DorothyL have responded positively to my posts lately haven’t they? I’m guessing its because I’ve really tried to encourage lurkers and new members to get involved in the discussions. To assure them that what they have to say is important and valid.
I have a theory. People can hide behind words they write in a digest like DorothyL. Actually, DorothyL wins A pluses all over the place, because for the most part we do treat one another nicely, unlike other forums of its kind. But, there’s something liberating to some people about anonymity. Now, those people who are quick to write something unpleasant about a book, an author, another member’s opinion; whatever – may not be as quick to say those things in a face to face setting. I know there criticisms made that truly are meant in a constructive manner. But there are some that aren’t constructive in the least. But back to anonymity. Let’s say you were sitting around the dinner table with 10 people. Eight of those people are very good friends of yours, or family members. The ninth person is a friend of someone else’s at the dinner table, but not someone you know well. Let’s call this person Harley. Now suppose Harley states an opinion that you happen to disagree with. Strongly disagree with. Would you look at Harley and say “Well, that’s just crap. You don’t know what you’re talking about.” Probably not. And neither would most people. You may think its crap, and you may think poor Harley doesn’t know what he’s talking about, but out of respect for friends and family who invited Harley to the dinner table – AND for Harley - you would be a little more circumspect in what you say. I think we should exercise the same good manners and restraint at DorothyL and other forums of its kind.
Well said. You count Margaret Maron as one of your friends, and she lists you in the acknowledgements of her book High Country Fall. Tell us about how you met her.
I love Margaret Maron. Now there’s a woman who serves as an excellent role model. For writers, for women and for all of us in general. I don’t think she could ever be less than gracious.
I think it was just after I finished reading Storm Track that I decided I wanted to thank her for writing something I enjoyed so much. Have you read it? Wonderful book! Or, it may have been after Uncommon Clay which takes place in an area of North Carolina quite well know for its pottery and world famous potters. I have a thing for pottery and this book was right up my alley. If you’ve read the Deborah Knott series you know she travels all over North Carolina as a District Court Judge. She’s one of the most well defined characters in mysteries today, in my opinion. So I worked up my nerve and sent Margaret an email telling her how much I enjoyed her writing asking if Deborah would ever be coming to the “High Country.” I received an email back telling me that yes indeed, Deborah was heading our way soon. Now this was so presumptuous on my part, that I’m a little embarrassed by it, but I wrote back and told her I lived in the High Country and if I could be of any help to let me know. Now, as you know, Margaret is one of the very, very best writers out there. She’s won like four or five Agathas, the Anthony, the Macavity and I don’t know what all. She’s been president of Sisters in Crime. I mean, gracious, all sorts of things! She’s a master in her craft, including research. You always finish reading one of her books knowing that they’ve been extremely well researched. Why on EARTH would she need any help from me??! But she responded that she would enjoy my input and it just took off from there. When High Country Fall came out, I was so very honored, of course, at being named in the acknowledgements. Who wouldn’t be? That was quite something. But then came another surprise. Right before Rituals of the Season came out I had stayed home from work a few days due to illness. During an email exchange I mentioned to Margaret that I had not been feeling well. She wrote back and to make me feel better, quoted an excerpt from Rituals. Lo and behold – there was my name as a minor character. Now, wasn’t that just the sweetest?! I was blown away, and quite touched. Margaret said I’m just too easily pleased. Maybe, but I don’t think so. How many writers do you know who would do something that nice? Random acts of kindness are delightful, aren’t they? So, that’s my Margaret Maron story. She’s one of the loveliest people I’ve ever met, and I take great pride in calling her friend.
You once said you love to sit and eat and read. What’s your favorite reading snack?
Just about anything! I’m a gal who thinks food is one of life’s grandest pleasures. Oreos and Milk and a good book – laws, what more could a person hope for? Hmmm – perhaps Margaret was right. Maybe I AM too easily please after all. What do you think??
Nothing better than life's simple pleasures. Do you like to cook? If so what are some of your favorite recipes (that you would make if I came to Boone and freeloaded at your house)?
I like to cook sometimes. I’m really not a great cook. Lasagna, though. I can do that O.K. I love to fix really cheesy lasagna. Rich heavy meat sauce and tons of cheese. Yum. Mostly I like to toss things into my crock pot. But I LOVE to bake. Love to make pound cakes in those fun Bundt pans. Do you know the ones I mean? I have one that a friend gave me that is a cathedral shape, and another that my gal pal Cathy Sands gave me that’s a sand castle – too cool! And I like to do breads. Cheese bread, lemon bread – that’s fun. But when you come to visit I will cook. Do you like chili? I do a pretty good chili. OR – we can have Donald throw something on the grill – he’s very good at that.
Sounds good. And I love the fun Bundt pans. My sister has a rose-shaped one.
I’m a romantic, so I always like to know this: how did you meet your husband?
Being a romantic is a great thing! Isn’t it fun? Donald and I met at a Chili Cook-Off! We were both working at Georgia Tech. His department invited the department I was working in to participate in a chili cook-off. My department won first prize. A mutual friend introduced us and I thought he was just darling. Handsome and sweet and funny. Bless his heart, I guess he thought I could cook, but I was just stirred the pot a lot. Did you ever read something Hillary Rodham Clinton said about starting a conversation with Bill Clinton when they met, and all these years later they’re still having that conversation? I knew exactly what she meant. ‘Course – I am absolutely sure Bill & Hillary’s conversation is loads more stimulating, so maybe I should say I sorta knew what she meant. Donald and I are still having that conversation we started at that chili cook-off. And these 22 years later he still makes me laugh harder than anyone I’ve ever known. And that’s the chili recipe I still have that I’ll fix when you come see us. You’ll like it, I think.
If you could have dinner with any mystery writer, living or dead, who would you choose?
Now there you go again. You know I can’t choose just one! Here’s a dream. A dinner party at my house (someone else would have to do the cooking, I guess). Dinner guests would include (but not necessarily be limited to) Margaret Maron, Michael Malone, James Lee Burke, Linda Fairstein, Laura Lippman, Cornelia Read and you. How’s that sound? Does that sound like an interesting mix? Let’s see if we can’t pick a date and round everyone up. I’ll have a separate “do” for the dead people though, and at that one I won’t even have to worry about cooking, will I?
And since I’ve mentioned Linda Fairstein here, can I just take a minute to tell you that she is absolutely one very very classy woman. I learned about her books through DorothyL and I’ve been lucky enough to exchange a few emails with her off-list and I like her lots.
Sounds like an awesome party! Thanks for putting me in there with all those heavy hitters. Maybe people will e-mail you and ask if you can find them a place at the table.
What’s the most fascinating thing that has ever happened to you?
I asked Donald to help me with this. He suggested that it might have been being seen on Atlanta TV being kissed by a camel. Gus the Camel. You really don’t want to hear about that. Traveling around Greece for a couple of weeks was absolutely the most fascinating thing I’ve done. And hopefully, I’ll get to do it again.
I did have a fascinating conversation with Pat Conroy one time. Wow. The man blows me away. We went to a book signing for Beach Music. Me, Donald and about 500 other Atlantans. When it was my turn in line Donald had encouraged me to say something so I blurted out something about how much I loved Fripp Island, which is where Pat Conroy lives. He shocked me to pieces when he got up out of his seat, walked around the table and leaned against it and asked me if I spent time at Fripp. We had just the nicest conversation and, of course, I walked out of there 10 feet off the ground. He was very approachable by everyone there. Anyone who had a question, he was willing to take the time to answer. He was a dream. Now, you know – he has a cookbook out. Wonder if he’d be willing to come cook for our dinner party??
Tell us about an average day spent in Boone.
Now this is NOT going to be fascinating at all – I promise. Up bright and early. Coffee & quiet time until I can trust myself to act nice. A little walk with Harley. A beautiful drive into work with Donald with one of us invariably saying “Look at that sunrise? Isn’t that wonderful?” We’re both suckers for a beautiful sunrise, and since our hours are 7 a.m. – 4 p.m., we usually get to enjoy one on our drive in. Then I spend my day as the department secretary in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Appalachian State University. Luckily, I work with the smartest, wittiest, and nicest group of folks in the world. They’re a delight. And, of course, I try to find sometime during the day to check in with DorothyL. Then home again, home again. Call my mom and visit with her for awhile. She’s my best woman friend. Then I spend some time visiting with friends and family over email. Then supper (which you’ve figured out by now can be a hit or miss kinda thing) and then book time. I rarely turn on the TV. I miss funny old sitcoms like Taxi, Barney Miller, and those types of shows. I’ve never watched a reality show, who knows – I might actually enjoy them. But I’d rather read. While I’m reading Donald is usually outside doing something – he always needs to be doing something. Right now he’s in the process of putting new rock facing on our chimney ‘cause the old rock wasn’t put on properly and was beginning to fall off. Now how fun would that be to be sitting out on the deck and get bonked on the top of the head by falling rock? Not good. And Harley is spending his time running back and forth between the two of us, making sure he’s getting his fair share of attention. That’s a typical day at the Barley household. I told you it would not be fascinating!
But it sounds fun.
If DL authors wanted to come and sign books in Boone, to which bookshop would you direct them?
I’d send them to Row By Row Bookshop – its terrific!
What else should Dlers know about you?
Oh laws, not a thing. If anyone out there actually finished reading this, they now know more than they actually care to I quite sure.
But thank you Julia! This has been fun!
Thanks so much, Kaye! It’s fun to “Meet” a face behind the post!