Welcome to the May 20th stop on the blog tour for Mind Fields by David-Matthew Barnes, organized by Bewitching Book Tours. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for spotlights, reviews, author guest posts, and a giveaway! More on that at the end of this post.
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Author Guest Post
Two Worlds at One Time
A couple of years ago, an undergraduate writing student of mine summed up the joys of reading when he defined the experience as “living in two worlds at one time.”
I couldn’t agree more. Not only does that phrase apply to reading literature, but it also fittingly sums up the recent changes in my writing career.
Good writing moves you. Great writing transports you.
I was once asked, “Have you ever been to Bath, England?”
I responded with, “Yes…once…in a Jane Austen novel.”
A good novel should do just that: allow us to travel the globe without once stepping foot outside of our home, office, library, coffee shop, or wherever our favorite place to read is.
Novelist and essayist William Styron once said about reading, “A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.”
But can’t the same be said for the writer? The duality my student recognized as a reader is similar to the double existence we live each day as writers, culling through our own experiences (imagined and real), sifting through research to make our words more authentic, managing a day job vs. a creative one, and politely ignoring the always-present response when we’ve told someone we’ve just met that we’re a writer: “Have you written anything I would’ve heard of?”
While we are busy creating on page those literary landscapes we whisk our readers away to, we are balancing two worlds – the one in which our characters exist and the other we draw daily inspiration from – our own. When we sit down at the computer and begin to tell a story, aren’t we in fact living in two worlds at one time? Perhaps the allure for writing begins with the desire to “leave behind” our current life and slip into someone else’s.
So often I have heard writers talk about “the zone” – that high peak of creativity that is so momentous, nothing else seems to matter or even register except for the words that our traveling from our imaginations, through our fingertips, and onto the page where, hopefully, they are later discovered by a reader who feels the same sense of rapture. I wonder if this state of intense creation is the fine line between the two worlds. When we stand (or dance) on it, are we straddling the very thing that separates fiction from truth?
As writers, we don’t just travel vicariously through the lives of our characters. Certainly by living the life of a published writer, I have been given the opportunity to travel extensively. I am amazed by the random, wonderful places my writing has allowed me to go. From Amelia Island, Florida to Altoona, Pennsylvania to Palm Springs, California – I have met readers, signed books, and instructed writing workshops in more cities and towns than I could have ever dreamed of (including Louisville, Kentucky). Each of those journeys have inspired and impacted my writing, giving me personal insight into otherwise unexplored territories. Each time I find myself in a new environment, I can’t help but observe my surroundings of this “new world” with a writer’s eye, knowing that later I might chose to recreate it for my readers – knowing they will be experiencing a sense of place through me and my words.
In my novels, I take my readers all around the world: from the streets of London to a Greek island, from the suburbs of Chicago to a seaside town in Belgium, from a prestigious music conservatory to a community swimming pool. I want every reader who picks up one of my novels to feel as if they have lived those “several lives” Styron talked about, that they saw the world without ever leaving the comfort of their bedroom.
Two worlds at one time. The phrase itself can have many meanings. For my former student it sums up the incredible experience he looks forward to as a reader. For us writers, it means the tough balancing act we must master in order to succeed – our creative life and our daily routine, the sometimes blurred line we teeter on between the real and the imagined. For me, it’s a reminder of how fortunate I am to do something I love.
About the Book
by David-Matthew Barnes
18 May 2021
Blue Dasher Press
Cover Artist: Darn Good Covers
Genre: NA M/M Romantic Suspense
Page Count: 153
Add it to your Goodreads TBR!
Sometimes love can blow you away.
When struggling college student Adam Parsh accepts a tutoring position, he is lured into the unknown world of a wealthy family.
Fighting off the sexual advances of Dario Vassalo, a Greek tycoon and patriarch, Adam finds himself the object of the dangerous desires of one of the most powerful men in the world—his married employer.Torn between his attraction to Dario and his deepening love for his best friend, Victor Maldonado, Adam is forced to choose between right and wrong. Surrounded by lust, glamour, and greed, Adam uncovers dark secrets strong enough to destroy many lives, including his own.
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Although the schedule at the Ravenswood Metra station said the commute was only 54 minutes, the ride felt much longer. Adam was seated with a window view, heading north on the Union Pacific line towards Great Lakes, to the wealthy shore side suburb of Lake Bluff, a place he’d only read about and heard others mention.
It was early but Adam had made a point of buying a large cup of coffee at 7-Eleven before jumping on the commuter train. The coffee warmed a chill inside of him he hadn’t been able to shake since waking up.
While Stacey was still passed out, Adam had stumbled around the tiny apartment, half asleep and full of lingering concerns. He showered, got dressed, ate a bowl of instant oatmeal, and headed to the train station. He checked his phone more times than usual. No voice mail or text from Victor.
Maybe I should’ve let him stay last night. I could’ve woken up in his arms, next to his warm body. We could’ve made love for hours.
Adam barely took notice of the sights as the train continued on its snow-filled journey to the North Shore. Instead, he sipped his coffee, listened to overly sentimental love songs on his iPod, and tried to imagine what life would be like if he and Victor made a commitment to each other. He knew, more than ever, that’s what he wanted. Being with Victor made sense. Like so many people had said before, they made a great pair.
Questions and fears heightened Adam’s anxiety, racing through his mind at the same speed of the train. Were they too young to be so serious? To be exclusive? What if Victor decided he was bored and restless and wanted to date other people? What if he was tempted and unfaithful? That would leave Adam hurt and damaged beyond repair.
His phone buzzed.
False alarm. It was Stacey. I can’t wear my new shoes today because it’s snowing outside. I hate February. But I love you. Where you be?
He texted back. On a train heading north.
She responded within seconds. I hope you’re not running away from home just because the rent is due.
He smiled and texted back. Job interview. Wish me luck. Otherwise it’s noodles and tap water for us until March.
The train was nearly empty now. A young woman wearing a red knitted scarf and matching cap was sitting a few seats away. A business man in a gray suit was reading a newspaper he’d folded in half. He was balancing a leather briefcase on his lap. His black-framed reading glasses looked as if they’d slip off the tip of his nose at any second.
I wonder what their lives are like. Is she in love with someone she can’t have? Is he unhappy in his marriage? Are they terrified of dying alone someday?
Adam glanced down at the pleated slacks, button-up Oxford, black pea coat, and Italian leather shoes he was wearing. He was dressed like a preppy boarding school student. He felt like an impostor. He’d assumed someone else’s identity in Chicago and was now on his way to fool a rich family into believing he was one of them.
They’ll see right through me.
Adam wondered why Dario Vassalo had extended the invitation to him. Given they’d only spent a few minutes together in Becca’s new office and their conversation had been brief, Adam tried to figure out what it was he’d said or done to inspire the wealthy man to consider him for the tutoring position. Was he replacing someone who’d been fired or quit? Were ulterior motives at work? Was the position created just for Adam as a way for Dario to see him again?
Adam shook his head, silently dismissing his absurd theories. Yet, in the back of his mind, he knew there was a thread of truth to them. He’d felt an instant heat for Dario. It was powerful and intense. He was almost certain the attraction was mutual.
Get that ridiculous idea right out of your head. He’s a married man. You have Victor now. And, you love him. You need the job. If you have to flirt a little to get it and keep it, you’re only doing what needs to be done. You can make this situation work for you until graduation.
Even if the train ride is forever and these stupid shoes are already killing your feet.
Adam finished his coffee. He looked out the window at the passing neighborhoods, wondering what was happening inside the houses and apartments within eye line of the tracks. Was someone brewing coffee, cracking open eggs, pouring pancake batter over a buttered grill? Was a child running late for school, worried they were going to miss the bus? Did someone decide to call in sick for the day, add another log to the fire, and curl back into bed with a good book and a cup of peppermint tea? Maybe a car wouldn’t start. An alarm didn’t go off. A husband didn’t come home.
The train pulled into the quaint, historic Lake Bluff station. Adam said a silent prayer, stood, and exited. Outside, the biting morning air was even colder than it had been in the city. There was a thin mist, floating and mingling with the falling snow flurries like a tentative ghost trying to decide whether or not to make an appearance.
Adam slid both hands into the pocket of his pea coat, cursing himself for not remembering to wear gloves or a scarf. He moved around the crowd of Chicago-bound commuters waiting to board a southbound train and made his way to the front of the train station.
Adam checked his phone and reread the instructions his mother had texted him.
A cab will be waiting for you at the station. Don’t be late.
On the train, Adam worried there’d be too many taxis to figure out which one was for him. He was relieved when there was only one idling at the curb.
There was an older woman standing next to the cab. She was short and squat. She was wearing a purple windbreaker, powder blue polyester slacks, and a pair of blinding white sneakers. The strange ensemble was completed with a white visor she wore low, just above her eyes. Her hair was short and tightly permed. It had an Easter blue tint to it.
She looks like an over groomed, mean poodle.
She glanced him up and down, cracked a sunflower seed between her front teeth, and spit the shell out on the sidewalk. “You Adam?” she asked. Her voice was nicotine stained and coated with a thick New York accent. At once, she gave off a strong vibe that even though she was short and could’ve been someone’s grandmother, she was tough and shouldn’t be messed with.
Adam was hesitant with his answer. “Yes. That’s me.”
“Name’s Myrtle,” she said.
“Myrtle?” Adam repeated, trying to hide his amusement.
No one is really named Myrtle, are they?
“Myrtle Brubaker,” she said. “You heard of me before?”
Adam couldn’t tell if she was joking. Was she a gangster or a cab driver?
Myrtle Brubaker had been through some hard times. It showed on her face. She looked weathered like someone had left her outside for too long in the snow. Beneath her haggard appearance and red, blotchy cheeks there was just a sliver of the attractive young girl she probably once was. Yet, it was clear Myrtle had never been a debutante. Adam imagined she spent her nights on a bar stool, shooting the breeze, chain-smoking, and killing off a bottle of bourbon. Or two.
“Get in,” she instructed. “You don’t wanna keep the missus waiting. She’s got a busy schedule.”
Adam complied. He slid into the backseat of the cab. It was like sitting in a closed box of sweet-smelling cigars. He rubbed his eyes, coughed a little, and asked, “What does she do?”
Myrtle found his eyes in the rearview mirror. “Who?”
“The missus,” he said, already speaking Myrtle’s language. “Mr. Vassalo’s wife.”
“That’s pretty,” he said.
“Doesn’t even do her justice, if you ask me. She’s a knock out. You’d think her husband would pay more attention to her, but whadda I know?”
Adam grinned. “You seem to know a lot, Myrtle.”
“I love three things in this world,” she said.
“Is one of them bourbon?” Adam guessed.
“As a matter of fact it is,” she said. “I love bourbon, a good horse race, and Nancy Sinatra.”
About the Author
David-Matthew Barnes is an award-winning author, playwright, poet, and screenwriter. He writes in multiple genres, primarily young adult, romance, thriller, and horror. He is the bestselling author of twelve novels, five produced screenplays, three collections of poetry, seven short stories, and more than sixty stage plays. He graduated with honors from Oglethorpe University in Atlanta with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and English. He earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina. He attended the Professional Program in Screenwriting at UCLA. David-Matthew divides his time between Denver and Los Angeles. He is represented by Hoop Earrings Entertainment.
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