Move over Norman Mailer. Take a back seat Tony Robbins. There’s a new author in town and his name is Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes.
Barnes has just released his first book – The Making of a Sheriff – a non-fiction work that offers life advice and plenty of colorful anecdotes from his years fighting crime.
Barnes said this week that he’s now hard at work on his second book: A crime novel set in Sunset Beach about a kidnapping case that has national implications.
If you’re a citizen who doesn’t want to see Barnes reelected to a seventh term as Guilford County sheriff, then you might want to refrain from purchasing the new book, because all proceeds go toward financing his 2018 run to keep the office he’s had since 1994, which makes Barnes the longest serving sheriff in Guilford County history.
The price of the book is a $100 donation, which gets you an autographed copy.
Unlike most books sold, anyone who buys it has to provide their name and address, since the proceeds from the sale are campaign donations.
Barnes called the book “a labor of love” and said there are two main reasons he wrote it: To help introduce himself to Guilford County citizens in a way that provides a deeper degree of understanding and “to share the things I feel have made me the person I am today.”
Barnes said he enjoys being sheriff but has never liked raising money – something he sees as a necessary evil when he runs for office every four years
“I hate the part of campaigning where you have to raise money, but campaigns cost money,” Barnes said.
He said writing and selling a book struck him as a good way to fund the campaign while allowing people to get something in return.
Anyone familiar with Barnes – who worked for years as an undercover narcotics officer – knows he has a wealth of stories from his years in the field and his time as sheriff. Barnes said he wanted to collect those in one book and toss in some advice that he’s learned over the years.
In a statement he released in conjunction with the book, Barnes wrote: “It has life lessons learned as I grew up, as a Marine, a Deputy Sheriff and as Sheriff. It has people I have met along my journey who have made a huge impact on my life. Folks such as Oliver North, Charlton Heston, George Bush, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump as well as many folks not so famous but just as important. It has stories about working undercover, cases that impacted communities, with facts many were not aware of.”
He said the book is chock full of advice and personal history.
“My first school fight is in there along with different things I learned growing up,” the longtime sheriff said.
Barnes said that, early in his life, there was a point when he was headed down the wrong path but the intervention of caring people helped set him straight.
Many chapters have colorful names like, “That Ain’t No Bible Verse.”
According to Barnes, one overriding theme of the book is, “If you do the right thing, you can’t be wrong.”
He said the book also contains some commentary on Guilford County’s most notorious criminal cases.
Barnes said his wife, Dena, and others helped edit the book and said he put in the preface that, if people find typos or grammatical errors, they should keep it to themselves because he doesn’t want to hear about them.
Barnes said that hopefully the book will help people understand how much he appreciates the opportunity of being sheriff as well as how much he respects the citizens of Guilford County. He also said that those who have read the book told him they found it “both interesting and an easy read.”
Now Barnes is working on his next book. He said he’s 22 chapters into the crime thriller set in Brunswick County – Sunset Beach, North Carolina, to be exact.
“There’s a kidnapping involved,” said Barnes, who owns a place at Sunset beach and enjoys going down there.
The protagonist in that book is named TJ Slone, which sounds suspiciously like “BJ Barnes,” something that’s probably not a coincidence.
Though Barnes has been sheriff for nearly 24 years straight – and the Rhino Times once dubbed him “Guilford County Sheriff for Life” – he’ll face opposition in the 2018 primary and then in the general election if he wins the primary.
In May, he’ll face off against Republican Steve Parr. The winner of that race will go up against either Therron “TJ” Phipps or Danny Rogers, the two Democrats who have filed to run for Guilford County sheriff this year.