Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Story Behind The Avocadonine and Spring Stone by Patrick Barnes

My dream was always simple.  Be a screenwriter.  Write a screenplay as good as Heathers or Edward Scissorhands.  A classic screenplay. 

I thought that if I kept this dream alive as I went through life that I could put energy into and nurture stories about high school.  Because, truth was, I was just as much a high school student as the characters in those classic screenplays.

So I did.  I saw a boy with a letter to a girl in his backpack and thought that was one of the hallmarks of typical high school life.  I saw a kid who was a great artist with messy hair and shaky hands and I thought that he was one hell of a likeable character.  I thought of the most inane thing that could happen during a ninth grade lunch time.  And I kept these ideas in my mind, like secrets locked in a closed vault.

But then life happened.  A different story of my own.  I went to college.  I lived on a farm.  I moved to Charleston.  I realized that I wasn’t just a screenwriter but a novelist as well.  All the while, however, those secrets stayed locked in the memory banks – the vault.  So, in fact, The Avocadonine and Spring Stone took me almost twenty years to write.  Six – since the start of the writing process. 

Most importantly, I only wrote when I felt inspired.  This meant that every time I did write I was filled with verve and that comes through in the characterizations.  The routine malaise so many writers have to fight through was never an issue for me.  I merely had to work out my mental faculties. 

I didn’t think it was a satire.  Not like Heathers or Edward Scissorhands.  But in hindsight it is a satire.  A tame satire.  Most important to me though, the plot didn’t become a mish mash of ideas.  It is a very “tight” (as they say in the film industry) book.  I was really pleased by how it all came together.

In Christopher Nolan’s, Inception, the main character says, “You create the world of the dream.  You bring the subject into the dream and they fill it with their secrets.”  When I arrived in Charleston, I sat down at the computer to fill that dream with secrets.  I discovered that The Avocadonine and Spring Stone is a dream my subconscious put together while I was setting out on a less interesting story of my own.

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:
Chapter 1 What is the first name of the horticulturist who named the Hass Avocado? Rey Naresh felt his body tremor as he inhaled. Was the basement cold? The new principal, Claudette Laurie, was going to announce the answers to the survey at the assembly for the entire ninth grade. Rey had answered the first six questions satisfactorily. But his chances of answering this one were less than winning the Russian lottery. He tapped the pencil against the desk. After staring at the last question on the survey for a minute more, he decided to leave the answer blank. Since when did incoming ninth graders have to take a survey? He slid the survey into an envelope addressed to Pemota Regional High School, mailed it, and walked to the soccer field to see Jet Mead, who always inspired him with his knowledge about how to get girls. ____ Two Years Ago It was shortly before midnight on Labor Day that three bicycles sent gravel flying as they skidded to a stop in front of Stella’s. Stella’s was a popular store in Pemota that specialized in selling avocado products, everything from avocado dip to avocado lime salad. The bikes belonged to seventh graders Huxley Core, Der Kath, and Joe Chen. Der was riding Huxley’s sister’s old bike, which had tremendously embarrassing pink streamers coming from the handle bars. Joe refused to look at Huxley and Der, his gaze on the forest and empty pastures. He was not happy they had undertaken this late-night adventure. Stella's was named after proprietor Craig Hawk’s wife. The avocado orchard in back grew many varieties of avocados, including Hass, Bacon, Reed, Pinkerton, and Fuerte. Der was looking at Stella's, his eyes wistful, and his thick lips in a perpetual pout. Der and Huxley both knew one comment could stir Joe's depressive malaise into irritation or even anger. Huxley and Der had spent the afternoon at the Taste of Pemota, a local fair where restaurants and companies sold food and beverage at discounted prices. Huxley and Der had tried a drink called Hochus Mochus and could not stop talking about how gross it was. Der had said that he wanted to get an avocado from Stella’s even though it was midnight. To Joe, they seemed to be under some spell. Huxley gestured toward the full moon, “Looney's are out tonight.” “Yeah,” Joe responded, “This is crazy.” “Joe, we're just gonna take a few. You remember the golf cart don't you?” Huxley asked. Huxley, Der, and Joe visited Sunshine Plains Golf Course and drove a golf cart around the course. It was Huxley’s idea to steal a key to one of the golf carts from behind the desk when the clerks back was turned checking to see if they had any Calloway golf balls. They drove the cart through the woods behind the golf course, and onto the deserted dirt roads of South Pemota, racing it around Larks Pond after school for a few days. They dented it up and pushed it into the lake. It was found a month later by some kids who were snorkeling, and reported their find to Sunshine Plains. Marv Core, Huxley’s chief of police father, made sure no charges were brought against the boys. Marv could often be seen standing between the two big blue lit globes in front of the Pemota Police Station introducing himself to people and conversing with dozens of acquaintances. He would brag about Huxley often. “My boy,” he would say, “straight A’s on his report card.” Nonetheless, Marv and Huxley were haunted by the murder of Huxley's sister, Ashley, by a street gang called the Latin Hoods. Marv was brought up on charges of excessive force after getting rough with some gang members. Marv and Huxley found comfort in Marv’s popularity in Pemota, and Huxley’s popularity at Pemota High. Huxley was the best kick ball player in the school, and the outfield had to back up to Timbuktu every time he got to the plate. Just yesterday, when they had backed up as far as they could, he bunted, slid under the ball halfway between first and second, and then stole third. He believed it was his focus on the present moment no matter what that made him Huxley Core. If he was sitting on the bench daydreaming about being a league kick ball player before he got to the plate he might have been caught out instead. “Joe,” Huxley said, “You can go home if you want but we're staying.” They had been riding for under ten minutes, and Joe would have a twenty minute ride back to his home in South Pemota. But as Huxley and Der walked their bikes toward the orchard, Joe made up his mind and went racing off. Huxley rolled his eyes and looked at Der who smiled strangely. It wasn’t as if they had anything better to do, they had said. As Joe rode into the distance, Huxley and Der were jumping up to bring a few Hass Avocados down from a tree. ---- Rey was living in a dreamland. Life had been surreal since fourth grade when he first noticed the light-brown haired, button-nosed, Christy Lane. Christy had Ms. Geneve and Rey had spotted her one day from the loft, a raised platform accessed by a ladder in Ms. Trudy’s class, from where one could see over the dividers and spy on the other two classes. Christy was perfect. He loved the cuddly sweaters she wore during the winter, the way she furrowed her eyebrows when she didn’t understand what Ms. Geneve was teaching about. When he was engaged in these acts of spying from the loft, he would often see Ms. Geneve glance over at him, at which point he would blush and return to the book he was pretending to be interested in. Ms. Trudy told the class the loft was not for spying. But that didn’t stop Rey from staring at her across the playing field at recess, or in the cafeteria. Rey wanted to hold on to this crush. He would make mental pictures of Christy like water color paintings and recall them when a romantic song was playing on the radio. He felt adults couldn’t feel this way. They were too worn out. This belief stemmed from the blow the death of his father had on, his mother, Isabel. Isabel told him his father was a famous politician in Mexico. She was studying journalism in her spare time and interviewing him. He was shot and killed a few months later at a rally by a political zealot. She’d moved to Southern California, in attempt to leave the memories of him behind. Since then, she’d saved up enough money for college and was now working as a bartender and studying journalism at Striar College at night. Between her classes and her job she hardly had any time for Rey; a situation that would hopefully change when she graduated. As Rey and Isabel made their way up Mount Monadnock to see a psychic Rey had asked to be taken to, Isabel was talking about an interview she had at The Pemota Gazette upon her graduation from Striar College. If she got the job she told him it would mean better Christmas presents and better school clothes. Rey was thinking about the birth certificate he found and didn’t bring in to school. It was a secret he was guarding closely and to the best of his knowledge Isabel was unaware. Just as prevalent in his mind was Huxley, Der, and Joe’s visit to Stella’s at the beginning of the school year. And of course, he was thinking about Christy Lane. Christy had her own share of family drama. Everyone in the school knew Christy hated her sister, Brianna Lane, who was famous for her beauty and for a prank she pulled when she was in sixth grade. She had a friend draw caricatures of some teachers that she didn’t like. She then pasted these caricatures on the teacher’s maps when they were out at recess. It was excruciatingly embarrassing for the lot when they pulled down their map of America, or Pemota, or the World, in front of the class. When Brianna reached ninth grade – Christy in sixth, attending an elementary school assembly -- Brianna stood in the back of the room and announced that her sister had just had her period. She waited for everyone to turn around and register that it was indeed her, Brianna Lane, and then she walked out. Christy saw Brianna in the hallway later that day and attacked her with her fingernails screaming, “I hate you.” Rey witnessed the fight and was thinking about it now, as he watched the hordes of Douglas Fir Trees, common to Pemota, which to Rey seemed to hover like curious, watchful, participants in this expedition. The only change in the “Psychic Advisor” sign since that quiet day two months ago when the class had taken a field trip to test their knowledge of compasses and coordinates was that it was blowing in the breeze. He half expected it to no longer be there. So when he saw the sign his heart beat fast and a smile crept up his face. “I take it this is the place?” Isabel asked. Rey nodded. Isabel turned the Saturn Ion into the driveway, carefully avoiding the ditches on either side, and began driving uphill. The trees hid whatever waited at the top of the hill. There was no grass on either side and patches of dirt were visible in between the pine needles and leaves. When they saw the home, Rey thought it looked as though the entire house was made of plywood. He wondered if the home was simply plywood boards erected and placed side by side, but it was probably just an unfinished exterior. There were two windows in front, one on each side of a brand new red painted door. The right window had a few laps of Christmas lights going around it although it was only September. There was a chimney on the left side of the home which let loose a steady stream of smoke. Rey glanced at Isabel and could tell she was having hesitations. “I’ll wave to you from the door,” he said, “when I’m sure it’s all right.” Isabel looked ambivalent but nodded just the same. Rey got out of the car and felt the leaves crunch under his New Balance basketball shoes. He made his way to the door feeling a little light on his feet, hesitated, knocked several times. The door opened and Rey couldn’t help his eyes from widening. He looked back at his Mom uncertainly. The woman had a big face, thin lips, and blue eyes with bags underneath them. She had stringy, haphazard light brown hair. She wore something resembling hippie attire, a red patterned shirt that came down just before the knee and a lot of beads. Isabel was out of the car. Rey pointed at Isabel. “That’s my Mom.” “Would you like a reading?” The woman asked.

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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