Richard Whitten Barnes takes the expression ‘making new friends’ to a much higher level than the rest of us. He literally DOES ‘make’ new friends!Friends like Delano (Del) Justice, an ex-Army Special Forces soldier, now North Carolina State Graduate Student, who agrees to collaborate with a brilliant MIT student, Hinson Faircloth (another Barnes creation!) who has discovered a new process for synthesizing petroleum - and then finds himself drawn into a thrilling fight for his life against oil cartels and the Russian Mafia!There’s Grace Thomas, Del’s fiancée (yet another Barnes creation) who gets kidnapped by the bad guys, and many, many more. The story reflects the peaceful, orderly and idyllic world of academia colliding with the high-stakes world of ruthless international oil cartels.
Is the premise realistic and accurate? Absolutely! “I wanted to write about something I know a little about.” says Richard. “I’ve spent my whole career in chemical sales.”
Richard’s ‘creations’ and their stories started out as a retirement hobby, but have since grown into a budding new career as a novelist. Del, Hinson and Grace are three of the characters in Richard’s exciting first novel, “The Faircloth Reaction”, an action-packed techno-thriller that will draw you into its web of suspense, murder and intrigue from the first page. Although the story is based on actual chemical engineering theory, don’t be fooled! You don’t need a science degree to enjoy this book. It’s a fast-paced, well written story that will give you hours of enjoyment!
What makes this novel even more special, is that much of it and its ‘siblings’ were written right here on St. Joseph Island!Although they officially reside near Charlotte, North Carolina, Richard and his wife Marg have been spending their summers on or around St. Joseph Island for the past 50 years!
Marg’s father, George Luehmann, fell in love with the North Channel area back in the 1920’s, and spent much of his vacation time in the Pine Island area over the 1930s and ‘40s. Bonney’s Lodge on Pine Island was a favourite. In 1946, the family purchased a lot on the mainland between Brown and Sutton Islands and in 1959, their youngest daughter Margaret brought her young beau (Richard) to stay for a week with the family. Marg and Richard married in 1960, and since then have only missed 3 summers up here in almost 50 years!
When the family cottage was sold to Marg’s sister on George’s death, Marg and Richard began renting local cottages at which spend their summers. In 1985, they bought waterfront property on St. Joe’s B Line, and four years prior to his “retirement” from his career in international chemical sales, they built their dream summer home.
“ Since then, we have not missed coming north, usually in mid-June through mid-September. I enjoy sailing my CL-16 day sailer, and showing off our beautiful shoreline to visitors in our scruffy old bow rider. Marg keeps me and all three of our adult children's families well nourished with apple pies and St. Joe syrup soaked pancakes!” smiles Richard, patting his stomach. “We start counting down the ‘days until Canada’ soon after returning south for the winter. Over the years, we have made many friends, both on the mainland and here on the Island. We keep in regular touch with several of these families. And Marg's Brother-in-Law still owns the original cottage on the mainland.”
Richard was born in Minnesota, but grew up on the north side of Chicago. He went to Michigan State University on a Band scholarship, and majored in Chemistry. A self-confessed ‘B Student’ in college, he remembers being approached by a professor just before his graduation. He said “Barnes, come here! Tell me – are you going into academia?” “No sir,” he replied. “I’m going into sales.” “That’s probably a good thing!” replied the professor.”
Richard’s sales career turned out to be anything but average. As Sales and Marketing Manager for FMC Corporation, a major worldwide chemical products manufacturer, he travelled to places as far flung as India, South Africa and China, to wheel and deal in the ‘big leagues’ of international chemical sales.
Then came retirement. “I had always thought that when I was retired, I’d do nothing but play golf all the time.” he smiles. “That lasted all of a couple of months. Then I thought ‘I’m sick of this! I’ve got to do something!”
He started doing volunteer work with several community groups, but something was still missing …. he needed some kind of creative outlet. He signed up for a creative writing class at Winthrop University and he was hooked! “I found myself thinking ‘Man, I like this! I really like this!” he recalls. He joined a writing group and started writing short stories. Soon, his fellow group members were encouraging him to try writing a full-length novel. He decided to give it a go, and in April 2009, ‘The Faircloth Reaction’ was released to rave reviews!
Summer and St. Joe play a large part in Richard’s writing. “All my writing has been done to some extent over the summers. What better atmosphere for relaxing and inspiration? Of course, when the grandchildren visit, opportunities for solitude are few, but we have places at our cottage where I can steal away and get some work done!” he smiles.
And Richard has definitely been ‘getting some work done’!Following the highly-acclaimed release of his first novel ‘The Faircloth Reaction’, he followed up with his soon-to-be-published next novel ‘The Corydon Snow’, set in the Pacific Theatre of World War II, and drawing on his own personal experience as a veteran of America’s famous 82nd Airborne Division. This one too is sure to be as big a hit as his first offering. He also has yet another book, about the homeless, coming along as well.
So what’s next for Richard Whitten Barnes, former chemical sales manager, celebrated author and devoted Island summer resident? Perhaps he need look no farther than his own summer home! “People have been suggesting I write a novel based on the founding and history of St. Joseph Island. There certainly is a whole lot of intrigue in the subject. I've often wondered about that Englishman who had the fabulous library in his cabin at Milford Haven. Then there's the Rains family. What a history!”
If you’d like to know more about Richard, his novels and his stories, visit his website (at least until November 1st) at: http://www.richardwhittenbarnes.com. Or, if you’d like a copy of ‘The Faircloth Reaction’, you can get one online from several retailers, including Amazon.com, BooksOnBoard.com and iUniverse.com, and most other online book retailers.
It’s a lively, engrossing ‘read’ and sure to be a great way to help pass the time this winter, while we wait to welcome Richard and Marg back next summer!