Can you tell readers a little bit about yourself and what inspired to write in this particular genre?
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.
Up until now, I have always written realistic, character driven novels. Wonderland is a huge departure from that. I really found writing a paranormal novel to be liberating. I had complete creative freedom. Anything was possible.
What inspired you to write this book?
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.
Was one of your characters more challenging to write than another?
Without giving away any spoilers, the characters of Dominic, Pablo, and Juliet posed many challenges to me as a writer. We don’t meet them until the middle of the novel, but they are critical to the second half.
Is there a character that you enjoyed writing more than any of the others?
I really love all of the characters in this novel, but I have a particular fondness for Adrianna Marveaux. In many ways, the character is based on my own grandmother who’s no longer with us. She was also a very glamorous woman who was filled with a tremendous amount of love and light.
What is your favorite scene from the book? Could you share a little bit of it, without spoilers of course?
I would have to say the dinner party scene is my favorite. I was very determined to create memorable ways that Destiny entered the party and left the party. I really love both. I feel like this particular scene consists of some of my strongest writing to date. I spent more time revising this scene more than any other. It was very important to me to get it right, to paint the best picture I could, to capture the true essence of love and magic.
Can you tell readers a little bit about the world building in the book? How does this world differ from our normal world?
Everything in this book centers on place. In order for the novel to work, I knew Wonderland had to be a fascinating place that both the readers and characters would want to return to as much as possible. I drew basic sketches of the layout of the house. I did a lot of research on architecture, especially on Victorian houses, which Wonderland is – specifically a Queen Anne. Even though there are some references in the form of imagery and objects to Lewis Carroll’s classic, I wanted them in the book more as a tribute and less as an adaptation. I knew comparisons would be made between my version of Wonderland and other variations of it. This inspired me to dig deep into my imagination and really infuse my own style.
Avalon Cove – where the novel takes place - is not a real island. However, to prepare for writing the novel, I spent time on Tybee Island in Georgia and the Isle of Palms in South Carolina. A lot of my experiences in both places made their way into the novel.
Do any of your characters have similar characteristics of yourself in them and what are they?
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.
Do you have any weird writing quirks or rituals?
I probably have too many too count, but a few are: I must have a title before starting a big project; I always create an unofficial soundtrack for my novels that I listen to constantly while creating; I don’t read other books or scripts while working on a project.
Do you write in different genres?
Yes, other than young adult and literary fiction under my own name, I also write romance and suspense novels under the name Dylan Madrid. In addition to fiction, I have also written several stage plays. I also work in film and television. Some of my poetry has been published as well.
Do you find it difficult to write in multiple genres?
Not at all. In fact, I love working and writing in multiple genres. There’s a great benefit to doing this. Sometimes a fantastic idea will come to you but you’re not sure the best way the story should be told. Working in multiple genres gives you an advantage in that regard. You have more choices.
When did you consider yourself a writer?
I write for teenagers because when I was 13 years old, a woman named Norma Fox Mazer changed my life. Growing up, she was one of my favorite authors. My eighth grade world was lit on fire when it was announced she would be making a guest appearance at our school.
After some serious campaigning to the junior high powers that be, I was one of the few students selected to have lunch with her in the library. I was beyond thrilled, having read every book she'd written. Although I was terribly star struck, I bravely showed her a section of a short story I was working on at the time and told her how much I wanted to be a writer.
Norma Fox Mazer scanned over the first page and informed me, "You already are."
Two years later, I published my first short story. And the rest, as they say, is history.
What are your guilty pleasures in life?
I don’t know if I would call them guilty pleasures, but I have many things and people in my life that make me smile including: my wonderful partner Edward, my friends, my dog Lucy, my cat Phronsie, white carnations, board games, anything written by Dorothy Parker, white chocolate, Chicago at Christmas, the city of Brussels, iced nonfat Chai tea lattes, peanut butter M&M's, the success of my students, the sound of rain, the smell of gardenias, slow dances, and tacos.
What was the last amazing book you read?
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.
What can readers expect next from you?
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.
Where can readers find you on the web?
They can visit my official website at www.davidmatthewbarnes.com. I’m also on Facebook and Twitter.
Would you like to leave readers with a little teaser or excerpt from the book?
Absolutely. In this scene, Destiny has been convinced by her friends Topher and Tasha to go inside Wonderland for her very first time.
Topher turned to me. “Destiny, do you believe in magic?”
I gave them both a look. “Okay,” I said, a hand on my hip. “Why does everyone keep asking me that?”
Tasha reached out and brushed a few strands of hair away from my eyes. “Because here,” she said, “you either believe in magic…or you don’t. Topher and I…we believe.”
“We need to know where you stand,” Topher echoed.
“Where I stand?” I repeated. “I’m standing on an island in South Carolina a thousand miles from home.”
Topher slid his arm around my waist. He whispered into my ear, “That life is behind you now.”
I started to cry, and felt like a complete idiot. “I know,” I said, with a small nod. “I can never go back.”
“We know what you’ve been through,” Tasha said. She took my hand and placed it in hers. Her skin was as soft and velvety as it looked. “We know about pain.”
My voice cracked when I spoke. “I miss my mom,” I admitted.
“She misses you, too,” Tasha said, tightening her grip on my hand.
“Soon everything will make sense,” Topher promised.
“You guys are being super sweet and I really appreciate that,” I said, “especially since you don’t even know me. I swear I’m not usually an emotional mess like this.”
“We want to take you somewhere,” Topher said.
“Okay,” I said. “But should I call my uncles first?”
“I promised Sir Frederic the Great I’d have you home by nine,” Tasha reminded me. “And you will be.”
“I only have one question,” I said.
“You can ask us anything,” Topher said. “We have nothing to hide.”
“Where exactly are we going?” I asked.
Tasha smiled at me and said, “We’re taking you to Wonderland.”
Genre: Young Adult/
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Number of pages: 181
Word Count: 49,000
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 Scenes, The 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.
October 28 Guest blog
Mom With A Kindle
October 29 review
October 30 Interview
October 31 Spotlight
November 1 Interview
The Creatively Green Write at Home Mom
November 4 Spotlight excerpt and review
Lipstick Lesbian Reviews
November 5 Interview
November 6 Spotlight
Wicca Witch 4 Book Blog
November 7 Interview
Fantasy Book Addict
November 8 Guest blog
November 12 Guest blog and review
Books to Get Lost In
November 13 Spotlight and review
Penny For Them...
November 13 Spotlight
Sapphyria's Book Reviews
November 14 Spotlight
3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too!
November 15 Spotlight and review
November 19 Spotlight
November 20 Spotlight
Book Reviews by Xunaira J.
November 21 Guest blog
Dalene’s Book Reviews
November 22 Guest blog