Former Ashe resident dedicates novel to county

Wil Petty Staff Writer

December 30, 2013

Barbara C. Rowe was always a writer, even when she lived in the Ashe County countryside under the name of Barbara Shepherd Ryan.

“As a teenager I wrote song lyrics, so (writing) came easily for me, to express myself in poetic verse,” Rowe said. “The inspiration for me was venting in an artistic matter. I had to vent all of those emotions, so I just started writing.”

Now, Rowe has dedicated one of her more recent novels, “You Must be From the City,” to the people of Ashe County.

“People are more laid back there, you can be a new person that everybody knows,” Rowe who now lives south of Lubbock, Texas said. “People in Ashe County are more cordial. Everything is about family, God and neighbors.”

The stories in “You Must be From the City,” are a series of short stories that focus on Rowe’s time living in the area. Rowe writes about keeping slugs out of her garden by using beer, roasting chestnuts during the winter and being chased by a bull.

Rowe said she has never driven fast on country roads, so when she saw what she believed to be a cow in the middle of the road between Wilkesboro and Jefferson, she decided to “shoo” it off the road.

“I was trying to shoo this cow and it started chasing me,” she said. “I ran up these ladies’ steps and knocked on the door asking if I could call somebody because a cow was chasing me. I guess they probably knew it was a bull, because they slammed the door.”

In her book, the story of the raging bull is called “Good Samaritan.” The story had taken place two years after her husband passed away and she was moving back to the county from Wilkesboro.

During her time in West Jefferson, Rowe also worked as a painter. She had an art gallery above Cutter’s Edge downtown and taught classes.

After the passing of her husband, Rowe gave up painting and focused solely on writing.

“I had stopped painting,” she said. “I just could not paint anymore for some reason, so I vented in another form.

The author of several books, Rowe plans to release an additional five books in 2014 including children’s books and romance novels. Her novel about Ashe County, though, was one where she wanted to invoke an emotion of happiness.

“If somebody had a really lousy day, I want them to be able to open that book and laugh,” she said. “I hope I have succeeded, and so far I think I have.”

For more information on how to order the book, go to or