Barbara J. Desman – Member Spotlight

Meet Barbara J. Desman. A love of travel, multi-layered creativity, and an inquisitive nature that could rival Ellery Queen’s, guided Barbara Desman across the United States and into exciting careers.

“Growing up in Iowa was wonderful,” she said. “However, early on I was plagued with wanderlust.” After finishing school, Barbara headed for the Valley of the Sun and went to work for Western Airlines, as part of the

corporate marketing division in Phoenix. Enthusiastic and ready to spread her wings in the travel business, she volunteered for a variety of projects.

“I’ve always been a creative person so, as part of my job, I jumped at the chance to dress up the front window of the ticket office with monthly displays—advertising everything from destinations like Alaska and Mexico to announcing the revolutionary idea that you would no longer be charged for the weight of your baggage. I filled luggage with bricks sprayed with gold to bring the message home.”

Barbara devoted nearly forty years to the airline industry and loved the opportunities it afforded her, including the chance, “…to explore and observe the culture, people, and sights of many foreign destinations,” she explained. “My mantra is curiosity is the Fountain of Youth.”   

“In 1980, my husband’s job took us to Los Angeles where I held various positions in management in Western Airline’s general office until the merger with Delta Air Lines took me to their general office in Atlanta.”

Regardless of her responsibilities with each airline, Barbara always found an outlet for her innovative ideas, “…including developing themes for management conferences such as ‘Your Part in Our Success’ that featured movie titles like Top Gun and The Right Stuff “.

One of her most challenging ventures was to create a conference, using a Sherlock Holmes theme, marketed as “Poor Service Is A Crime”. During the event, the company presented a film written, produced, and directed by Barbara!

“Little did I know then that I would be drawn to mystery writing and join my new Sisters in Crime tribe,” she said.

A lifelong storyteller, Barbara loved to regale friends and family with her tales. In 2000, Barbara took early retirement and fulfilled her wish to return to sunny Arizona. After her move, she decided it was, “… time to test the waters by actually committing stories to the page”. 

So, in 2013, at the age of seventy-three, Barbara “…immersed (herself) in creative writing classes and workshops in pursuit of the goal of writing essays, short story fiction, and memoir”. Her non-fiction essay, “Why We Didn’t Tell,” was published by the lauded, online literary magazine, Prior to that, her writing “…was confined to the world of business with a few forays into editing organization newsletters”. Much of Barbara’s work draws on her travel experiences during her forty-year career in the airline industry.

This month, Barbara’s first book, SAVING AIMEE/SAVING MARGO will launch on August 11th. The novella shines a light on an international—and devastating—crime. “When I began to write Margo’s story, I never thought she and I would both encounter human trafficking,” she said.

“When Margo decided to try to find the child she gave up eighteen years ago, she never thought the police would also be looking for Aimee and would suspect Margo had something to do with her disappearance. If she was going to save her daughter, the secret Margo had kept all those years would have to be shared with Aimee’s biological father, who didn’t know she existed. In the end, will her desire to help save her daughter also save Margo?”

“Margo’s story is set in the 1990s when the major center for human trafficking was Thailand and little was known about it in the United States,” Barbara said.  “While this is not simply a book about human trafficking, it’s my hope that the readers will learn from the experiences of Aimee and Margo, and perhaps be moved, as I was, to become involved in raising awareness.”

Barbara now writes full-time from her home in Scottsdale, with her Toy Fox Terrier, Bubbles, at her feet. A member of Sisters in Crime, Inc. and the Sisters in Crime Grand Canyon Writers chapter, Barbara is very active in the chapter’s exciting Mysteries & More Marketing Network.

The energetic author shared a specific goal for this chapter of her life, “… to become the Grandma Moses of Prose”.

To contact Barbara, for more information about her work, to order her debut novel or to learn about Human Trafficking, please check out her author website at:

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