Lifestyle

Adventure Seeker

Local author Dick Barnes didn’t intend to spend five years writing his first published book, but that’s how long it took to get it right.

“I wrote it, deleted large chunks of it and rewrote it several times,” Barnes said.

“Fortunately at one point, the characters became alive to me, and the book started writing itself. I was captured, and would write for several hours not even aware of the passage of time.”

Barnes’ first book, “Enmascarados,” is a highly detailed fictional account of a United States mercenary team which infiltrates Cuba to put a stop to biological weapons research.

Through its characters, the 700-plus page book provides considerable insight into the impact of the Cuban revolution on its citizens and the current state of Cuba-American relations. It also includes what some readers characterize as too-detailed descriptions of homemade weapons, including a complex bio-weapon.

“The truth of the matter is, each of the weapons I’ve described, while sounding plausible, has some key ingredient or process left out,” Barnes said. “Readers don’t understand that this is just a story, and I think I’ve been very careful in the details I’ve provided.”

Barnes, age 50, has spent the last 25 years of his life living in Federal Way. He grew up in a military family. His father was an Air Force colonel who had many friends who specialized in covert warfare. As a boy, overheard conversations about small-unit warfare was an accepted part of his informal education.

Sam Emmons has known Barnes for 30 years. They’ve hiked and canoed together, and have climbed mountains and explored caves throughout the western United States.

“He’s a pretty handy guy to have around,” Emmons said. “He’s adventurous, willing to try things most normal people wouldn’t do.”

“The book is really a story about people, set in a context that is familiar to me,” Barnes said. “It’s about American and Cuban men who have been dishonored and are trying to recapture something in their lives. It’s about women who have been entrapped in their circumstances and are attempting to regain control of their destiny. The book contains many points of view, and the characters even change their minds.”

Although completed in 1998, “Enmascarados” wasn’t finally published until early this year. Finding a publisher was difficult, but Barnes persevered. In the meantime, he wrote a second book, “Ketukan,” and is busy writing the third in the series. Having learned from his early experience, Barnes self-published “Ketukan,” and both books are available through three major book sellers’ Web sites.

In “Ketukan,” the mercenary team survivors see action again, this time against the Moscow mafia and of course, the fate of the Russian republic is in doubt.

“In the third book, the team confronts the arch villain yet again, this time in Vietnam, Barnes said. “Although set in the present, the characters confront their own histories in Vietnam as well.”

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