1970s Cultural Mores are Examined and Overcome in This Romantic Adventure by an NC Couple, Which is Based on Their Story

HAYS, N.C., March 25, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Do you remember a time before computers, cell phones and internet? A time when rock and roll, bell bottoms and miniskirts were all the rage? This true love story takes you back to the culture of the 1970s where the main characters face obstacles, backlash and even danger with persistence and humor.

Roadwork [Alvah Arts], a work of autobiographical fiction, tells the story of how the authors met and takes the reader through their first three years together. Kyle Sands is a senior at Esbenshade High School who relies on music to cope with his loneliness and the divorce of his parents. Valerie Willard is a ninth-grade English teacher in the same school who is stiving to free herself from a suffocating, mentally abusive marriage. A chance encounter evolves into Kyle playing his music for Valerie and her sharing some of her poems with him.

What begins as songwriting together turns into a relationship filled with passion, humor and danger. Valerie has everything to lose and Kyle cannot see a future without her. As their love for each other grows, it exposes many of the underlying roadblocks embedded in 1970s culture: the rights of women, the stigma of older women/younger men relationships, the acceptance of children with mental handicaps, and the struggles encountered when taking risks. The unexpected obstacle is the lingering resentment of outsiders. Even after Kyle graduates and the couple feel the worst is behind them, they continue to face anger and disapproval that complicates their lives to the point of becoming life-threatening.

“I have always wanted to tell our story. Even though there have been other romance novels about teacher-student relationships, I believe ours is unique in that it is based on truth and is told from both our perspectives,” Mr. Barnes said. “The fact that it occurs during the 1970s adds significantly to the story; it would not be the same story if it took place now.”

“My early relationship with John opened my eyes to some of the unexpected sides of people and our culture. I learned a lot and became a much stronger woman as a result,” said Mrs. Barnes. “I also believe our mix of first and third person adds to the complexity of the two main characters.”

Roadwork is the fourth novel by John Alvah Barnes, Jr. Mr. Barnes has been a singer-songwriter for over 50 years, performing both as a solo act and a member of various rock and roll bands. He also spent over 15 years in the healthcare field, first as a biomedical electronic technician and then as a first responder (EMT). His first three novels are based on his medical background.

Roadwork is Naomi Lynn Barnes’ debut novel. Mrs. Barnes was an educator for over 50 years, She began her career teaching high school English and gradually moved into the field of continuing medical education where she directed education departments in medical societies, including the American College of Physicians, and medical communications agencies, including the Clinical Affairs Division of Cardinal Health.  

Although this is her first novel, Mrs. Barnes began writing poetry as a child. A few of her poems from the 1970s are featured in the novel, and the couple decided to publish a collection of her poems, which is available free with the novel. Inside Out, A Collection of Valerie’s Poems is Mrs. Barnes’ first published collection of her poetry. “I decided to publish this collection along with the novel because I believe the poems provide insight as to why the main character, Valerie, made the decisions she did in the novel,” said Mrs. Barnes. “They provide background for the reader.”

Roadwork is available as an e-book and paperback at most major online book retailers. Learn more about Roadwork and the authors on their website and connect with them on Facebook.

CONTACT: Naomi Lynn Barnes,


SOURCE Alvah Arts