Friday, November 1, 2013

Interview and Giveaway with Wonderland Author David-Matthew Barnes

Please share a little about yourself, your genres, any other pen names you use.

My name is David-Matthew Barnes. I’m a filmmaker, novelist, playwright, poet, and teacher. I write young adult and literary fiction under my own name and romance and suspense novels under the name Dylan Madrid. When I’m not writing, I teach college courses in writing and the arts.

Tell us a little about your latest or upcoming release.

Wonderland is a young adult novel, a paranormal romance. The book is about Destiny Moore, a fifteen-year-old girl whose mother has died from cancer. Even though she’s lost someone she loved and everything she’s ever known has changed, life for Destiny must go on. She moves from her hometown of Chicago to live with her two uncles on an island in South Carolina.

Because I write mostly for young people, I receive a lot of messages and emails from them. Often they share elements of their lives with me. I started to notice a lot of them writing about losing someone they love. I knew I eventually wanted to write a novel about a young person dealing with grief and death.

The initial idea for Wonderland came to me during a ghost tour in New Orleans. The tour guide asked, “Do you believe in magic?” That question seemed so powerful to me. Back in my hotel room that night, I started to outline the plot of the book. That particular question is the first line of the novel.

Wonderland is really a combination of those two elements: love and magic.

Have you ever based your book or characters on actual events or people from your own life?

I think every character I create is an extension of me in some way, even if only a small one. They all come from me, from my experiences in life, from people I meet, conversations I have or overhear. Certainly, some characters hit closer to home. In Wonderland, I felt a close connection with Destiny and Topher. In many ways they are both similar to the younger version of me.

Which romance book do you wish you had written?

Anything by Nicholas Sparks.

Is there a genre(s) that you’d like to write that you haven’t tackled yet?

I recently wrote and sold a screenplay for a horror film called Scare Me, Kill Me. I have always appreciated the horror genre but haven’t given it much focus until now. I feel like this will be a new genre I will explore creatively.

Of all the characters you’ve ever written, who is your favorite and why?

I truly have love for all of my characters – even the evil or supernatural ones. But some of them resonate with me a lot stronger than others: Serena from my novel Mesmerized, Tina Duncan from my novel Ambrosia, Marie Baker from my stage play Pensacola, and Albert and Joey from my novel Accidents Never Happen.

If this book is part of a series…what is the next book? Any details you can share?

Wonderland was not intended as a series. However, the character of Topher has stolen the hearts of many readers who feel empathy for his plight. Jennifer Lavoie, a fellow young adult author who also writes for a diverse audience, liked Topher so much she suggested he should have his own novel – and, because of the affinity for him that readers have shown, this may very well happen.

What is next for you? Do you have any scheduled upcoming releases or works in progress?

I have two novels coming out in 2014.

The first is a literary novel called Stronger Than This, which comes out in February. I truly feel this is my best work to date. It was a very challenging novel to write because I wrote it in epistolary form. It was also a very emotional experience because of the subject matter.  It’s about two people who meet in a support group after losing someone they loved. They decide to help each other get through the pain and grief.

The second is a young adult novel called Fifty Yards and Holding, which will be out in August. It’s about the unexpected friendship between the star of a high school baseball team and the leader of a violent street gang. The two men end up falling in love even though everything in their world stands against them.

I’m currently writing a new young adult novel called The Marijuana Mermaids. It’s about three girls in high school who make a pact to see how much they can get away with. It’s an exploration of female rebellion.

What book are you reading now?

I just finished reading Cyndi Lauper: A Memoir. Growing up, she was my muse. A lot of my friends were really into Madonna, but not me. Cyndi Lauper showed the world it was okay to be different, that creativity should be valued and respected and revered. I adore her. To this day, I’m greatly inspired by her commitment to be her and no one else. Individuality wasn’t exactly the cool thing in the early 80s, but she did exactly what she wanted. She busted her ass to become successful and she never gave up. In the book she talks about one of her favorite personal sayings: “In the darkest place, shed the brightest light.” I take those words to heart. They are words to write and live by.

David-Matthew Barnes

Genre: Young Adult/

Publisher: Bold Strokes Books

ISBN: 978-1602827882

Number of pages: 181
Word Count: 49,000

Book Description:

Nominated for the American Library Association’s 2014 Rainbow Books!

After her mother loses her battle to cancer, fifteen-year-old Destiny Moore moves from Chicago to Avalon Cove, a mysterious island in South Carolina. There, she starts a new life working part-time as a magician's assistant and living with her eccentric uncle Fred and his hottie husband, Clark.

Destiny is soon befriended by two outcasts, Tasha Gordon and Topher McGentry. She accepts their invitation to accompany them to a place called Wonderland, a former boarding house owned by the enigmatic Adrianna Marveaux.

It's there that Destiny meets and falls in love with Dominic, Tasha becomes enamored with Juliet, and Topher gives his heart to Pablo.

When Destiny uncovers the reason she and her friends have really been brought to Wonderland, she's faced with the most crucial choice of her life.

About the Author:

David-Matthew Barnes is a filmmaker, novelist, playwright, poet, and teacher.

He is the award-winning author of nine novels including the young adult novels Swimming to Chicago and Wonderland, which were nominated by the American Library Association for their annual Rainbow Books, a list of quality books with significant and authentic GLBTQ content for children and teens. His literary work has appeared in over one hundred publications including The Best Stage ScenesThe Comstock Review, and The Southeast Review. He was selected by Kent State University as the national winner of the Hart Crane Memorial Poetry Award. In addition, he's received the Carrie McCray Literary Award, the Slam Boston Award for Best Play, and earned double awards for poetry and playwriting in the World AIDS Day Writing Contest.

Barnes is also the author of over forty stage plays that have been performed in three languages in eight countries. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America and International Thriller Writers.

Barnes' first film was Frozen Stars, which he wrote and directed while still an undergrad in college. The coming-of-age independent film stars Lana Parrilla of ABC's Once Upon a Time.

Barnes earned a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing at Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina. He has taught college courses in writing and the arts for the last decade.

He lives in the city of Denver where he serves as the CEO of Fairground CineFilms.

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