"Summersville," Barbanica's recently released novel, is based on her childhood experiences and Antioch's colorful past. It tells the story of a misfit 12-year-old girl named Stevie with a talent to hold conversations with spirits from Antioch's past.
"She is learning to be around people again, and that they don't think she is a freak," said Barbanica, referring to Stevie's journey through maturity. "The first draft was easy. Once I began working with the editor, it started getting personal going back over the material."
Barbanica grew up in Antioch's Mira Vista Hills neighborhood, close to the Black Diamond Mines and the historic Rose Hill Cemetery, where she learned arithmetic by calculating ages from birth and death dates.
"I remember the day my parents said 'we bought our dream house,'" said Barbanica, adding that she never expected it would include haunting experiences that are as vivid in the book as they were in real life.
With interesting historical background, the book leads readers through a fictionalized version of the former mining communities once located in the hills of Black Diamond Mines.
References to legendary ghost tales such as the "White Witch," who supposedly guards the children buried in the cemetery, can be found in the novel. Historic figures include Sarah Norton, who appears to Stevie in the kitchen, warning her of dangerous spirits.
"We have so many people moving to Antioch who don't know our history," said Barbanica on Saturday at her first book-signing at Secret Garden Exotic Birds. "It is a matter of getting the public to know what we got here and to cherish it."
The book takes no more than two hours to read. Originally, the tales were written for her 10-year-old son, who is now 17, and not intended to frighten but rather spookily inspire. Barbanica believes it is her openness that attracts spirits; the same goes for her grandmother and son who also experience these encounters - it just runs in the family.
"Summersville" is available for purchase online, in stores and at the Antioch Historical Museum. The book is published under a new collection called "One Flight Fiction," in which the stories are designed as quick reads, and distributed in airports and train stations.
Sherry Barbanica uses J.M. O'Shaughnessy as a pen name. For more information, visit www.oneflightfiction.com or call 757-3074.