THE F.I.G. MYSTERIES
Dara Roux, abandoned when she was 7 years old by her mother. Exceptionally gifted in foreign languages. Orphan.
Mackenzie Yarborough, no record of her parents or where she was born. Exceptionally gifted in math and problem-solving. Orphan.
Jennifer Torres, both parents killed in an automobile accident when she was 16. Exceptionally gifted in music and art. Orphan.
THE CADENCE OF GYPSIES: Book 1
Known as the F.I.G.s (Females of Intellectual Genius), three high-spirited 17 year olds with intelligent quotients in the genius range, accompany their teacher and mentor, Carolina Lovel, to Frascati, Italy, a few weeks before they are to graduate from Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women. Carolina’s purpose in planning the trip is to remove her unusually gifted, creative students from the Wood Rose campus located in Raleigh, North Carolina, so they can’t cause any more problems (“expressions of creativity”) for the headmaster, faculty, and other students – which they do with regularity. Carolina also wants to visit the Villa Mondragone where the Voynich Manuscript, the most mysterious document in the world, was first discovered and attempt to find out how it is related to a paper written in the same script she received on her 18th birthday when she was told that she was adopted.
THE WISH RIDER: Book 2
When Carolina and the F.I.G.s return to Wood Rose, Dara decides that she wants to try to locate her birth mother when she learns that she might be living in New York City. Carolina, Mackenzie, and Jennifer accompany her and their search leads them to a secret dangerous shadow world hidden deep beneath Grand Central, constructed in what Mackinzie identifies as chevroned magic squares—N X N matrixes in which every row, column, and diagonal add up to the same number—and cloaked in the discordant B flat minor key music that only Jennifer can hear.
THE CLOCK FLOWER: Book 3
The three FIGs—Females of Intellectual Genius—graduate from Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women after returning from New York City where Dara learned why her mother abandoned her all those years ago, and they are now attending universities where they can further their special talents. This means they will be separated from each other and from Carolina, their much-loved mentor and teacher who is “one of them,” for the first time in their young lives. They vow to try living apart for one semester, in the so-called real world that doesn’t include the orphanage; but if things don’t work out, they will come up with another plan—a plan where they can be together once again. Dara is invited through Yale University to take part in an exciting archeological project in China. Jennifer, once again visualizing black and white images and the unusual sounds of another cadence that seem to be connected to Mackenzie, is engrossed in creating her next symphony at Juilliard. Mackenzie, because of her genius at problem-solving, is personally chosen by a US Senator to get involved in a mysterious, secret research project involving immortality that is being conducted in a small village in China—not too far from where Dara is involved with the archeological site. Once there, however, she finds herself facing a terrifying death from the blood-dripping teeth of an ancient evil dragon. Her best friends, the FIGs and Carolina, rely on their own unique genius and special talents to save her as she discovers the truth of her birth parents.
THE NIGHTJAR’S PROMISE: Book 4
Jennifer Torres, one of the three FIGs (Females of Intellectual Genius) who is a genius in both music and art, is the last to leave the closed rehearsal for her upcoming performance over Thanksgiving break at Carnegie Hall when she hears something in the darkened Hall. Recognizing the tilt of the woman’s head and the slight limp of the man as they hurry out an exit door, she realizes it is her parents who were supposedly killed in a terrible car accident when she was 15 years old. Devastated and feeling betrayed, she sends a text to Carolina and the other two FIGs—THURGOOD. It is the code word they all agreed to use if ever one of them got into trouble or something happened that was too difficult to handle. They would all meet back at Carolina’s bungalow at Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women to figure it out. As soon as they receive the text, because of their genius, Dara starts thinking of words in ancient Hebrew, German, and Yiddish, while Mackenzie’s visions of unique math formulae keep bringing up the date October 11, 1943. And as Carolina waits for the FIGs to return to Wood Rose, she hears warnings from Lyuba, her gypsy mother, to watch for the nightjar, the ancient name for the whip-poor-will.
In their search for “The Nightjar’s Promise” and the truth surrounding it, Carolina and the FIGs come face to face with evil that threatens to destroy not only their genius, but their very lives.
Excerpt (from The Wish Rider)
At first Dara didn’t turn out her light, preferring instead to study the wallpaper in the room where she was sleeping, between Carolina’s room and Mackenzie’s room. Just like the flowers in the vase next to her bed, flowers in colors of deep burgundy, yellow, and blue—jewel tones—floating on a background of ecru were displayed in large beautiful bouquets tied with lavender silk ribbons. She was reminded of the room she and the FIGs had shared when they stayed with Mother and Papa Granchelli. The wallpaper in that room had flowers, too—large, yellow cabbage-patch roses; and also, just like that room that had been chosen especially for them, the rooms they were staying in now had been chosen especially for them.
Her eyes drifted to the small table next to her bed and the things on it: the vase of flowers, a lamp that had two amber glass globes, a pretty ceramic dish, a small book of verse written by various women poets. She picked up the book and glanced at the names listed alphabetically: Bella Akhmadulina, Anna Bunina, Willa Cather, Emily Dickinson. Then, because it was what she did whenever she faced an especially challenging situation, she focused on words, or in this case, the family surnames of women poets, first establishing the root of each main word, or symbol in some instances, and assigning it a certain “weight” or number to determine its origin.
She was tired, having not slept in several nights. As she looked at the names in the small leather-bound book, placing the female poets’ origins in countries such as France, Russia, and China, she realized that the reason she hadn’t slept was because of something she had never been able to admit to anyone, not even to Mackenzie and Jennifer. Not even Carolina. Something she hadn’t even been able to admit to herself because of the overwhelming guilt associated with it. But there in the beautiful room that had been picked out just for her, with the wallpaper covered in bouquets of flowers tied with silk ribbons, and at just that moment, she was somehow able to confront it at least in her thoughts.
She hated her mother.
For leaving her that day in the candy shop and not coming back. For not loving her daughter enough to keep her. Even though they didn’t have much, it had been enough for Dara. Apparently it wasn’t enough for her mother, though.
Dara had overcome so much: feelings of inadequacy, of failure, afraid of never being able to amount to anything. Of never being wanted by anyone. It was her genius with foreign and obscure languages that had sustained her through the years. It was also her genius that gave her permission to bury the feelings of hate for her mother so deep that they could never surface. But now, after all this time, facing the prospect of seeing the woman she had loved and called mama, that hatred had risen from the depths of her soul and resurfaced.
And she felt guilty.
About The Author
Originally from Carrollton, Illinois, author/agent/publisher Barbara Casey attended the University of North Carolina, N.C. State University, and N.C. Wesleyan College where she received a BA degree, summa cum laude, with a double major in English and history. In 1978 she left her position as Director of Public Relations and Vice President of Development at North Carolina Wesleyan College to write full time and develop her own manuscript evaluation and editorial service. In 1995 she established the Barbara Casey Agency and since that time has represented authors from the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan. In 2014, she became a partner with Strategic Media Books, an independent nonfiction publisher of true crime, where she oversees acquisitions, day-to-day operations, and book production.
Ms. Casey has written over a dozen award-winning books of fiction and nonfiction for both young adults and adults. The awards include the National Association of University Women Literary Award, the Sir Walter Raleigh Literary Award, the Independent Publisher Book Award, the Dana Award for Outstanding Novel, the IP Best Book for Regional Fiction, among others. Two of her nonfiction books have been optioned for major films, one of which is under contract.
Her award-winning articles, short stories, and poetry for adults have appeared in both national and international publications including the North Carolina Christian Advocate Magazine, The New East Magazine, the Raleigh (N.C.) News and Observer, the Rocky Mount (N.C.) Sunday Telegram, Dog Fancy, ByLine, The Christian Record, Skirt! Magazine, and True Story. A thirty-minute television special which Ms. Casey wrote and coordinated was broadcast on WRAL, Channel 5, in Raleigh, North Carolina. She also received special recognition for her editorial work on the English translations of Albanian children’s stories. Her award-winning science fiction short stories for adults are featured in The Cosmic Unicorn and CrossTime science fiction anthologies. Ms. Casey’s essays and other works appear in The Chrysalis Reader, the international literary journal of the Swedenborg Foundation, 221 One-Minute Monologues from Literature (Smith and Kraus Publishers), and A Cup of Comfort (Adams Media Corporation).
Ms. Casey is a former director of BookFest of the Palm Beaches, Florida, where she served as guest author and panelist. She has served as judge for the Pathfinder Literary Awards in Palm Beach and Martin Counties, Florida, and was the Florida Regional Advisor for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators from 1991 through 2003. In 2018 Ms. Casey received the prestigious Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award and Top Professional Award for her extensive experience and notable accomplishments in the field of publishing and other areas. She makes her home on the top of a mountain in northwest Georgia with three cats who adopted her, Homer, Reese and Earl Gray – Reese’s best friend.
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Interview With The Author
What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
Dulce de leche – My late husband was originally from Argentina, and he
introduced me to dulce de leche. I think I could eat it on anything.
Which mythological creature are you most like?
So many mythological creatures seem angry or do wicked things. I would have to
say I am more like the faeries or unicorn who see and do good.
First book you remember making an indelible impression on you.
I was very young when I read it, and it took me a long time to finish it, but my first
novel was Beautiful Joe by Marshall Saunders.
How do you develop your plot and characters?
I like to get to know my characters first and flesh them out. Once I do that, they
tend to find their own place within the outline of my story and determine how the
story will move forward.
Describe your writing space.
Because I spend so much time in my office where I write, it is important to me
that everything is in its place and that I am surrounded by things that I either love or that inspire me. My desk is the main event with my computer, phone, framed photos, an antique Asian wooden box, and working area. The desk faces built-in bookcases that have copies of all of my own books as well as the books I have successfully placed for my clients, reference books, and a variety of objects that make me feel happy spaced throughout on the shelves. On one end of the bookcases I have several antique wall pockets hanging. There is also a large leather chair with a floor lamp next to it where I can take a break to just read. Behind my desk against the wall is a large secretary/credenza where I have an ink well collection, and perpendicular to that on another wall are wooden file drawers, a copy/fax machine, and another phone. There are several paintings on the walls and on a wooden chest in front of a triple window is a red bromeliad plant anchored by a doily that my grandmother made.
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