Signing off on revenge

Published 12:30 am Friday, December 23, 2011

Matt Barbani, world traveler, artist and writer, with his new book “The Revenge Option.” Barbani will be signing copies from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday at the Inner Banks Artisans’ Center. (Contributed Photo/Jerry Bradley)

It’s a little nook hung with paintings, where the smell of oil paint comes straight from still–wet brushes. The paintings, landscapes and still lifes, are small windows into the former life of their creator, images of Holland, Spain, Costa Rica, England, the world. Matt Barbani, artist and writer, calls the studio “his home away from home.”

This Saturday, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., Barbani will host a book signing of his latest anthology, “The Revenge Option,” in his “home away from home” at the Inner Banks Artisans’ Center. The two short stories, “The Ring Conspiracy” and “The Candlelight Conspiracy,” Barbani describes as revenge stories, with an action/adventure flair.

“The Candlelight Conspiracy” centers around a real event, the 1986 bombing in Madrid, Spain, by the Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA), the militant Basque nationalist organization. In the novella, an American man plots revenge against the organization for the death of his wife and children. “The Ring Conspiracy,” set initially in 1960s England, tackles greed and corruption in a tale of a far-reaching domino effect created by a single action.

Originally from Bronx, N.Y., Barbani spent a 23-year career in field communications, working for both government and private corporations. The job took him all over the globe: to England, France, Nigeria, Phillipines, Saudi Arabia. In between his work for NASA and oil interests, he owned and operated a restaurant in Spain, a farm in England. Barbani’s world-wide adventures spurred him to begin writing his autobiography, “The Way It Was,” in 1997.

“I was overseas, telling stories about my adventures, and they told me, ‘Matt, you’ve got to write this stuff down,’” said Barbani.

So he did — and when he finished writing the sometimes harrowing, sometimes hilarious tales, he tried his hand at fiction with “Transformation Formula” and its sequel, “Transformation Formula, Part II,” both action/adventure novels.

While Barbani uses his overseas experience to set the background for his novels, he refrains from putting his own real-life events in his stories.

“Most authors will do that — put a little bit of themselves in the stories,” Barbani said. “But my autobiography is all the true stuff. Everything else I write is fiction.”

The story of how Barbani ended up in Washington after a life of globe-trotting seems like fiction, too. But Barbani, living in New York, had tired of the cold weather and was driving down I-95 on his way to a new life in Florida. On a whim, he got off the highway and followed U.S. Highway 64 East, and made his way to Washington. He took one look at the river and decided to stay.

“I said, ‘Holy Smokes — why do I have to go any further?” Barbani recalled.

Since then, Barbani has busied himself with his art and writing in the space he’s rented since the Inner Banks Artisans’ Center first opened.

“I like retirement,” Barbani explained. “But between painting and writing, it keeps me off the streets.”

All four of Barbani’s books can be purchased and signed from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday in studio 12 of the Inner Banks Artisans’ Center, 158 W. Main St., Washington.