Riding with James Dean
by David-Matthew Barnes
Date of Publication: November 7th 2017
Publisher: Blue Dasher Press
Cover Artist: http://www.GoOnWrite.com
Genre: Young Adult
When seventeen-year-old Johnny moves to a sleepy new town and meets the enigmatic Marco, the glamorous Mary, and the punk princess Jemma, his summer nights are soon filled with friendship and love.
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From a distance, I could’ve sworn I saw the ghost of Marilyn Monroe.
There was a beautiful woman standing next to Marco in the parking lot of the 50’s hamburger palace. They were leaning up against the side of his vintage car, waiting and doused in the shadows of slow pulsing neon lights. His arm was draped around her shoulders. It appeared she was propping him up. She laughed when she steadied him and the sound was sweet and melodic. She was a platinum blonde, dressed in a black pencil skirt and a low-cut white angora sweater. There was a red chiffon scarf tied around her neck. She exuded power in her black stiletto heels. She was a movie star in the making, a glamorous goddess just waiting for someone to discover her and catapult her to fame. If anyone had been born for a life on the silver screen, it was her.
She pried herself away from Marco and stepped in my direction. “You must be Johnny,” she said. I nodded in reply, mesmerized by the seductive green color of her eyes and the tenderness of her voice. She leaned in, kissed my cheek, and then spent the next few seconds trying to wipe her lipstick off my skin. Her touch was soft and comforting.
“Are you Marilyn Monroe?” I asked. My words fell into her cleavage.
“You’re close,” she said. “I’m Mary.”
“Yes,” I said. “Marco mentioned you.”
“He’s like a brother to me,” she whispered. “Be gentle with his heart.”
Marco moved to us, wrapping an arm around us, connecting and cementing us as a trio. “I’m a lucky guy,” he said. “I get to spend the night with my two favorite people.”
“Marco doesn’t have many favorites,” Mary explained. She was clearly his interpreter. “So, I guess that makes us the lucky ones.”
Marco gently guided us in the direction of his parked car. “I wish we could go to Vegas,” he announced.
“Why don’t we?” I challenged.
He shook his head. “We wouldn’t make it there until dawn.”
“Dawn’s a lovely time to arrive in Vegas,” Mary said. “You can sleep all day and then be ready for the night.”
“Are we vampires?” I asked, with a small laugh.
“In another life, yes,” explained Mary. “In this one…”
Marco glanced up to the dark, starlit sky and said, “We’re the ones everybody else wants to be.”
Mary shook a finger at him, reprimanding. “Careful, Marco,” she said. “You almost sound smug.”
“Do you think they know?” he asked. “About how much we’ve been through?”
They looked into each other’s eyes when Mary spoke. “If they did,” she said, “they wouldn’t care. But our sorrow would ruin the façade.”
“Façade,” he repeated. “I like that word.”
Mary insisted on sitting in the backseat, but not before pulling me aside. “You belong up front now,” she explained, in a hushed tone. “Next to Marco. He needs you by his side.”
“But you were here first,” I reminded her.
“I appreciate your chivalry,” she said. “But you’re new.”
I slid across the bucket seat and into the shelter of Marco’s arms. He pulled me closer to him. “There,” he said. “That’s better.”
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The Book Junkie Reads . . . Interview with David-Matthew Barnes
How would you describe you style of writing to someone that has never read your work?
I write about ordinary people experiencing extraordinary circumstances that will forever change their lives.
What mindset or routine do you feel the need to set when preparing to write (in general whether you are working on a project or just free writing)?
Before starting a new project, I do a lot of prep work that usually includes character profiles, a playlist, an outline, and some sort of writing schedule, even if just a tentative one. I write every day in my home office. For each writing session, I start with free writing to get the creative energy flowing.
Do you take your character prep to heart? Do you nurture the growth of each character all the way through to the page? Do you people watch to help with development? Or do you build upon your character during story creation?
Character development is very important to me as a writer. My characters come from different sources of inspiration, from imagination to stories people share with me to watching and listening to strangers. I consider myself a professional eavesdropper. Creating an authentic character that leaps off the page and resonates with a reader is my goal with every character. To achieve this, I construct in-depth character profiles, similar to what an actor might do before performing a role.
Have you found yourself bonding with any particular character? If so which one(s)?
In my new novella Riding with James Dean, I definitely felt a bond with my main character, Johnny. He’s definitely a variation of my younger self. The story isn’t entirely autobiographical, but there are elements of my teen years woven into the narrative.
Do you have a character that you have been working on that you can't wait to put to paper?
Yes. I’m working on a new novel called A Woman’s Place. It’s about a beautiful relationship between a mother and daughter. I first wrote it as a short story years ago. The main character, Annabelle Mae Westover, has stayed with me ever since. I am excited about telling her story in a longer form and spending more time developing her character. She’s very fun to write.
Have you ever felt that there was something inside of you that you couldn't control? If so what? If no what spurs you to reach for the unexperienced?
I think the only thing that comes close to this is my wanderlust. I love traveling and exploring new places in the world. I live for the unexperienced. The more we experience as storytellers, the more stories we can discover to share with readers.
David-Matthew Barnes is the award-winning author of several novels and collections of stage plays and poetry. His acclaimed screenplays have earned many accolades including a 2017 Los Angeles Film Award. David-Matthew has written over fifty stage plays that have been performed in three languages in ten countries. His literary work has appeared in over one hundred publications. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America, International Thriller Writers, and the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. He earned an MFA in Creative Writing at Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina. He has been an educator for more than a decade.