Friday, August 11, 2017

Update Interview with David-Matthew Barnes: August 2017

For this month's update interview, editor Angela Alvarez sat down with David-Matthew to discuss all things happening in his very busy and very creative world. 

AA: I know your schedule probably better than anyone, so I can say I'm completely shocked you even found the time to chat.

DM: You're one of my favorite people in the world, so I was happy we could make this happen.

AA: Are you drinking coffee? How much coffee do you drink in a day?

DM: As much as the law allows. (laughs) Probably way more than a healthy amount. I also drink V-8 Energy drinks. They're like a more natural version of an energy drink.

AA: So, you basically live on caffeine and chemicals?

DM: Not to that extreme, but close.

AA: Do you sleep?

DM: Yes. It's so funny that you ask me that.

AA: Is it a common question?

DM: It is. I think there's a myth floating out there that I don't sleep.

AA: Probably because you produce an insane amount of work every other day.

DM: That's just an illusion.

AA: You're drinking Starbucks but I know you to be a Caribou Coffee connoisseur.

DM: Caribou Coffee is a little more difficult to come by in Denver, but you're right.

AA: So, speaking of Denver, you just landed a new day job there.

DM: I did.

AA: What is it?

DM: I was just named the new Associate Dean of Instruction at Red Rocks Community College in Lakewood, Colorado.

AA: That sounds very fancy and very academic.

DM: I'm very excited about it. This is a new challenge for me. Definitely a different direction.

AA: Will you still be teaching?

DM: No.

AA: Your students are going to be bummed.

DM: Maybe some of them will be. Some of them will probably be relieved. (laughs) But, honestly, I think it was time for me to take a break from teaching.

AA: More time to write?

DM: No, less actually. But the writing is slowing down organically, anyway.

AA: What does that mean?

DM: It means I'm trying to work less and live more.

AA: That has to be difficult for you. I know you as a super overachiever.

DM: I think I used to be, but not so much now.

AA: Well, you've accomplished a lot this year. It's exciting to see so much happen for you.

DM: More has happened for me in this one year than in the last 30 years combined.

AA: Seriously?

DM: I'm going with whatever the universe is doing and not questioning it. I've been sending a lot of the same projects out for years. For some reason, many of them are landing this year. I never saw this coming, to be honest. 2017 has been one hell of a ride.

AA: All your hard work is paying off. You've been writing for how long?

DM: Professionally?

AA: Yes.

DM: Since I was 15.

AA: And how long ago was that?

DM: Do you want the year?

AA: Yes, because I know you have a birthday coming up.

DM: I've been writing professionally for 32 years.

AA: So, since 1985?

DM: I can't do math, so I hope that's right. You're just trying to find out how old I am.

AA: I know how old you are. You're 29. Just like me.

DM: Exactly. No, I'll be 47 next month.

AA: So, you're not an overnight success?

DM: No, definitely not.

AA: It seems more people know about your work now than ever before.

DM: Yeah, it feels that way. But it's also a terrific time to slow down. I have a ton of new projects coming out in the next couple of years.

AA: Like what?

DM: Well, I'm really excited about a novella I wrote called Riding with James Dean. It comes out in eBook later this month.

AA: Best thing you've ever written?

DM: It's up there.

AA: What else?

DM: I just finished writing a collection of poems called Love and Detours, which is out at publishers right now. I also wrote a new stage play set entirely in the 80's called The Truants. That will be out later this month, too.

AA: The Truants? Is it autobiographical?

DM: I'm not telling.

AA: Tell me.

DM: I will after this interview.

AA: Fair enough, but I'm taking that as a yes. What music are you listening to these days?

DM: I've really been into K. Flay lately. She's amazing. 

AA: I don't know her music. Would I like it?

DM: Yeah, definitely. I love her lyrics. She went to Stanford, I think.

AA: So, she's smart.

DM: Yeah, and she raps.

AA: I like her already. What book are you reading right now?

DM: I just finished Penny Marshall's memoir, My Mother Was Nuts. I really enjoyed it. I also really recommend the new book out by Stefani Deoul. It's called On a LARP. I loved it. It's a new series. I can't wait for the next one. Right now, I'm re-reading The Compound by S.A. Bodeen. She's a fantastic writer for young people. She really gets them, their emotions, their language.

AA: What's happening with Boxcar?

DM: I've been having great communication with the director, Coen Haven. His vision for the film is fantastic. I can't wait to see the finished product. They start filming later this year.

AA: Sounds like a great excuse to go to Europe.

DM: I love Europe.

AA: I know.

DM: The film has already been scheduled for screenings there in 2018. I think it's going to be screened in Shanghai, too. 

AA: A lot of people don't know this, but you also write horror movies under a different name.

DM: I do. I write horror movies and thrillers under Declan Mayfair. Horror is my first love.

AA: I just saw an email come through from your agency that there's really good news for Scare Me, Kill Me.


DM: Yeah, that just happened. Like seconds before we started talking. I was just selected as a quarter finalist for the screenplay competition at the Shriekfest Horror Film Festival in L.A. for Scare Me, Kill Me.

AA: I love that script.

DM: Thank you. I do, too. (laughs.) It's quite an honor, considering how terrific and respected Shriekfest is.

AA: You must be on cloud nine right now.

DM: I have been since March. I'm not kidding. Last year was one of the worst years of my life.

AA: I know.

DM: So, to survive that and then experience this - it feels like a complete turnaround.

AA: Do you feel like the best is yet to come?

DM: Definitely, but I also want to recognize what this year has done for me, not just professionally.

AA: For your confidence?

DM: That and just getting some validation.

AA: It's important in this crazy industry.

DM: Yeah, it is, but I think it was important to me more. I needed to prove to myself that I was writing worthwhile stories that had some value to them.

AA: I think your plays have always done that.

DM: My plays have been very good to me.

AA: Speaking of, you have one more bit of good news. You have monologues from three plays in a new collection from Smith and Kraus.

DM: Can I just tell you, that company in particular has been so good to me. They've been publishing my plays and monologues in collections for almost 20 years. My playwriting career never would've happened without them.

AA: That sounds like gratitude.

DM: I am very grateful to them. The new collection is wonderful. I'm honored to have my work included in it.

AA: Did you have a good summer?

DM: I had an amazing summer.

AA: Highlights?

DM: Having front row seats to see Exene Cervenka and John Doe and Garbage and Blondie in concert.

AA: What? Oh my God. That sounds amazing.

DM: It was one of the best nights of my life.

AA: I'm super jealous and I want to go to Shanghai with you next year.

DM: That would be awesome.

AA: Thank you for hanging out with me. Next time, I'll bring you something to drink from Caribou.

DM: Deal. 

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