A Review of Anthony Barbera’s Christian Mystery & Suspense Love Story ‘ The First Rains of October ‘

Local author’s new book, The First Rains of October brings literary sentiment to the area.

By Colin Ortstadt –Sonoma Sun

The first sentence of Anthony Barbera’s novel, The First Rains of October, reads like a Lee Child thriller. “When August St. Claire ran off that cliff she dropped like a rock,” the story begins. “True, she was running and her legs kept kicking in the air- but then gravity yanked on her ankles.” With pointed visual style and a fresh literary voice, Barbera’s novel is a sincere and thought provoking narrative. Set in rural Fallon County, a fictional space between Marin and Sonoma Counties, Barbera’s first-person narrative brings to mind the literary qualities of Steinbeck’s Salinas Valley. In Barbera’s book, the leaves of the eucalyptus flutter “like thousands of barbecued potato chips,” and the “quilt like sections of open grassland” loom in the periphery.

“I’d always thought about writing a novel,” said Barbera, a long time Sonoma resident whose literary ambitions amounted to little more than a notion before 1998, when he decided to sit down and write his first book. “I had written a few screenplays, and I realized that the limiting forces that surround the medium of screenwriting don’t extend to the novel. In other words, you have ultimate power over subject, setting and characters.” Among his writing/directing film credits include the 1997 short film “X Marks the Spot”, which debuted at the Sonoma Film Festival. The progress of his writing and directing led him to pursue other mediums, more specifically that of literary fiction. “I really didn’t know if I could write a book. I spent 4 years on my first novel,” he said. Barbera’s other book, Catching Baby Moses, also takes place in a rural turned popularized setting similar to Sonoma. Its release has been delayed until later this summer. “I really spent a lot of time developing my style and the skills necessary to authentically approach these topics,” he said. “I really love the geography of this area,” he said. “It’s hard to live in this place and not be inspired,” he added. “Steinbeck could characterize the landscape of so well…it’s something I’ve been trying to emphasize in my own writing…to give a literary sense to this area.”

Along with the enduring prose imposing a quintessential Sonoma Valley, is a cast of displaced characters that aid in Barbera’s assessment of the land’s double-edged quality. The story delves into the sensitive aspects of revenge and forgiveness – and it is Barbera’s choice to tell the story from a reluctant first-person perspective, combined with the compelling use of omniscient narration that makes the book such a unique and engaging read.

Still, despite Barbera’s triumph, he concedes that the road to literary success is long. “It takes a long time to get established,” said Barbera. “You’ve got to stick with it and keep going no matter what- because it’s what you want to do. You’ve got to learn to tolerate rejection, as well as the anxieties that come with the creative process. I’m working on another novel right now, and of course there are always ideas brewing. It takes time. But the trick is enjoying and learning as much as you can.”

The First Rains of October is available at these Book outlets: The First Rains of October


In order of publication, Anthony’s novels are ‘Catching Baby Moses’, ‘The First Rains of October’, ‘Jonah In the Time of the Kings’, ‘Assurity-a Space Thriller’, and ‘Izzy the Bernese Mountain Dog’. His screenplays include ‘An American Psalm’, ‘Catching Baby Moses’, and ‘Assurity-a Space Thriller’. Anthony’s historical novel ‘Elijah: The Man Who Stopped the Rain,’ is scheduled for release in late 2022.

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