Interview with Patrick Barnes, author of The Avocadonine and Spring Stone

Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

I always thought satire was the highest form of art.  Movies like Unforgiven and A Clockwork Orange were my favorites.  I was inspired by the drive to say something really important, to influence society and create change.  There’s no other genre of fiction that hits you smack in the face like a good satire.

High school was a difficult time for me.  I wasn’t picked on, but I was isolated to a degree.  I always wanted to change things – make people see things the way I saw them.  High School is a subject that makes for great satires.  So The Avocadonine and Spring Stone was a book I was always destined to write. 

How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

It’s a cliché, but it’s true: don’t give up.  Keep that end goal of a great book in your mind as an absolute necessity and have faith that it will materialize that way.  Also, try to write characters that come alive on the page for you.  If you know your characters, writing an entire book will seem a much less daunting task.  Some writers say their characters act on their own and lead them places they didn’t expect.  That’s not true for me.  But I did know what my characters would say and do in certain situations.  That made writing the book easier and a lot of fun.

Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

I researched self-publishing extensively, reading testimonials by self-published authors, and learning about the likelihood of a self-published book being successful.  After becoming convinced that I could make my book a success self-publishing, I decided to take the leap of faith.  I am still in the early stages of finding out if simply writing a well-reviewed book will reap rewards.

Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

I read a lot about what Hugh Howey, author of Wool, said about selling books.  I thought if I put my book on a site like Smashwords I could sell books through word of mouth.  I was wrong.  One must market his or her book to sell copies. 

What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

I’m working on a book tentatively titled The State of Audric.  I don’t want to say what it’s about for fear of the idea being stolen.  But it’s very high concept and a real page turner.  It should be published in under a year’s time.

What’s your favorite place to hang out online?

I check out movie reviews at Rotten Tomatoes often.  I like checking out what’s worth seeing and also wondering if what I thought of a movie is what the critics thought also.

Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

Take care of yourself.  In High School is so easy to get sucked in and be defined by what people think of you.  It’s difficult to remain your own person and act in accordance with what you do or don’t think is right.  But if you can stay yourself and make good decisions you’ll find out there’s a big world that has use for your talents, and your focus.

Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

Thanks for reading my responses and checking out my book.  I really loved writing this book and I think people of all ages will enjoy reading it.

Inside the Book:

Title: The Avocadonine and Spring Stone
Author: Patrick Barnes
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing
Publication Date: January 26, 2015
Pages: 334
Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Book Description:

Praised by many as one of the best YA fiction books you’ll ever read.
Rey Naresh, a likeable kid worth rooting for, is going into the ninth grade at Pemota High.  He’s not sure what to expect being fresh off a visit with a gypsy who may or may not have been psychic, but he’s hoping in ninth grade he’ll get to meet his crush, the pretty green eyed, Christy Lane.  He’s wanted her to notice him since sixth grade and keeps a letter to her in his backpack.  The school bully, Huxley Core, and his friends, who call themselves Nadine’s Puppies, threaten to publish something about Rey in their libelous newsletter.  As Rey looks up at the stars one night he realizes he will have to confront Huxley and be man enough to make Christy fall for him.
One day, on the bus, fellow ninth grader, Ryan O’toole, says to Rey that there’s something wrong with something the students are drinking and that electronics are making a humming sound when he’s near them.  It sounds to Rey like looney toons, but are other students having a similar problem?  Rey and Christy unite and embark on a quest that seems to have to do with mind control by an evil administration and provides a quandary for philosophical thought.  A mystery seems to have taken hold of Pemota High, one that may stretch back generations to a malicious woman and a story of her relationship with a student named Spring Stone.

Book Excerpt:

“Der,” Huxley straddled the bench and sat down next to Joe, “It’s your newsletter.”  Huxley was tired of talking about the newsletter.  He didn’t write the articles, didn’t come up with the ideas, and didn’t care whether or not people came up to him in the hall and said, “Funny article Huxley.”  The newsletter was getting old.
Above them the branches of Douglas Fir Trees blew in the wind which was strong today.  Acorns like big caterpillar cocoons fell on the grass.  The Smokers Corner was inhabited by three others on this after school smoking session.  Sarah Wein was sucking on a Marlboro.  Her boyfriend Jonas Wilson was with her.  And their friend Jared McCurry had joined the smoking session.  The three of them were seniors and had no interest in the affairs of the ninth graders.
“Huxley, I read about this,” Der said.  “You got your switchblade?”
Switchblades were legal in Pemota, but carrying them concealed was not.  Huxley had sent away for his.  He slipped through the school’s doors each day switchblade in pocket, unbeknownst to the authorities, because Pemota High never had or would need metal detectors.
“Is this the PTSD thing?”  Joe asked, as he stomped on a cigarette.
Der had learned about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from The Deer Hunter.  He found it on the internet and learned it was caused by intense fear and anger under helpless conditions.  Der thought it was possible to institute the disorder without a combat circumstance.  Huxley and Joe strongly disagreed.
“Der,” Huxley chided, “That’s for people in Vietnam.”
“This will be like Vietnam,” Der said, “Just do what I say.”
Huxley and Joe looked at each other.  Joe gave a shrug and that was enough for them both to know they would go along with what Der had in mind.  Der pointed to the wide arcing sidewalk corner, “Stand there, pop it out, and show it to them.”
Joe said under his breath, “That’s what she said.”
Huxley laughed at Joe’s favorite thing to say.  It never seemed to get old.  Christy and Rey were approaching cautiously.  Then Christy stopped.  Huxley was standing there with a switchblade in his hand.  He held his hand knuckles up.  Then he dropped the switchblade to his side and started doing Karate like movements with it.
Rey looked at Christy noticing she had turned bright red.  “Huxley, if you hurt us you’re going to jail,” she screamed.
“Tell them if they ignore the insults they can gain entrance to Harper Way,” Der said.
“If you ignore the insults you can gain entrance to Harper Way,” Huxley said adding a few Karate chops.
Normally, Huxley didn’t intimidate Rey.  But normally, Huxley didn’t have a switchblade in his hand.  A thick powerful wind shook Rey and Christy’s T-shirts around as they pushed forward but going nowhere.  The Douglas Fir Trees shielded the Smokers Corner.  Rey thought the smartest decision was to go back to the school.  He could sit with Christy and wait for a ride, but then Christy would have to meet his Mom, and that would surely be embarrassing.  He also didn’t want to look like a “pussy” as Huxley had called him in front of both Christy and Huxley.
“What do you want to do?”  Rey asked.
“They won’t do anything,” Christy said.  She put her hand on Rey’s back and pushed him forward with her.  She walked forward determined.
On the Smokers Corner, Der had taken Huxley’s place on the bench.  “Verbal assault,” he said quietly.  “It’s what PTSD was made for.”
“You sure, Der?”  Joe asked.
Der nodded then called out: “Hey Christy.  Did you hear David Benson has a horse named Christy?  We all sit around wondering if you like to hang out in his stable.”
“That ponytail is like a mane,” Joe joined in, “You can just hold on to it and go for a ride.”  Joe found this comment extremely depressing as he did think Christy was pretty, and would barely acknowledge it to himself.
“Christy, let us take turns.  Let us ride you like you’re a pony.”  Der stood up at that point, and threw his arm forward like he was punching them.  “Rey, is that your bitch, because I’ve seen better looking horses at the Kentucky Derby.”
As they approached, Huxley rounded the arcing corner doing karate moves, keeping them aware of the switchblade.  Christy had tears in her eyes Rey noticed.  He put his hand on her back briefly.  His heart was doing jumping jacks, his face was blushed, and he felt sweat seeping out of every pore in his body.
“Aw, the stable masters come to give the horse a pat on the back.  To be a beastiality loving stable master from Mexico.”  Der looked at Joe who seemed to be speechless.  “Rey when you ask her for her number make sure it’s not her racing ID.  I’m sure she’s stamped somewhere.  They’ve got her on file at the racing bureau.  You can probably get her number there.”
Christy and Rey were feet away from Harper Way and in twenty more yards would be free as flying sparrows.  Rey was dying to stand up for her.  Sarah stood up for them instead.  “Jesus Christ guys, leave them alone.  They didn’t do anything to you.”
Der paid Sarah no mind.  “Does your sister ride you at home?  Is that why you hate her so much?  Does she pull on the reins and dig her spurs into your sides.”
Christy was growing more and more infuriated.  She began to feel like she was going to explode and that her whole life would be ruined if she didn’t say something.
“Hey Christy,” Huxley said, sounding very uncharacteristically serious.  “What’s it like to always be second?  What’s it like when everywhere you go you’re just a reminder of Brianna? She’s cooler, smarter, prettier.  You’re just the little sister that’s always about to cry.”
Christy turned to Huxley, her hands balled into fists.  “What’s it like to always be first Huxley?  What’s it like to have a sister that’s dead?  What’s it like to have no one to stop you from messing up your life because no one cares about you?  What’s it like ...”  She stopped when she saw Huxley’s facial expression.
For Rey everything seemed to stop in that moment.  Then time got reinstated.  Huxley’s smile was gone, and he started to walk towards them.  Christy and Rey saw his cold vicious eyes and they ran.  They were at the end of Harper Way, when Huxley started to give chase.

For More Information:
The Avocadonine and Spring Stone is available at AmazonBarnes & Noble, and Goodreads

Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads

Meet the Author

Patrick Barnes lives in Charleston, South Carolina.  The Avocadonine and Spring Stone is his second book.  It has been awarded a five star review from Readers Favorite, and a four and a half star average among critics on  He has a Bachelors Degree in Film and Writing from the University of Massachusetts and a Masters in Library Science from the University of South Carolina.  He has won first place in Arts and Entertainment Writing at the Yankee Penn Journalism Conference, and has worked as a Librarian at the Folly Beach Public Library.  When he’s not writing, he likes to walk on the beach with his dog, and watch movies.

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