David-Matthew Barnes is the bestselling author of fifteen novels, three collections of poetry, seven short stories, and seventy stage plays that have been performed in three languages in twelve countries. He writes in multiple genres, primarily young adult, romance, thriller, and horror. His literary work has appeared in over one hundred publications including The Best Stage Scenes, The Best Women's Stage Monologues, The Best Men's Stage Monologues, The Best 10-Minute Plays, 105 Five-Minute Plays for Study and Performance, and several collections in the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series. He is a Pushcart Prize nominee. He graduated with honors from Oglethorpe University in Atlanta with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and English. He earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina. He is a graduate of the Professional Program in Screenwriting at UCLA. To date, he has written five produced screenplays, including the award-winning Dutch film Wagon.
Watch David-Matthew's interview with Playwright's Spotlight.
David-Matthew Barnes is the bestselling author of fifteen novels, three collections of poetry, seven short stories, and seventy stage plays that have been performed in three languages in twelve countries. To date, he has written five produced screenplays, including the award-winning Dutch film Wagon.
Born in Torrance, California, David-Matthew is the eldest son of Sam Barnes, Jr., a former police officer originally from Jonesboro, Louisiana, and Nancy Nickle, the former owner of a hip-hop record label originally from Los Angeles. He has four younger brothers. He is the eldest grandson of the late Clifford Nickle, who was a prominent business owner in the Redondo Beach area of California.
David-Matthew has considerable family history in Canada, as his relatives are the founders of the Nickle Galleries at the University of Calgary. Entertainers have been prominent in David-Matthew's family for many generations. His great-aunt was actress Ann Paige, who appeared in the films China Doll and The Young Lions with co-stars Montgomery Clift, Marlon Brando, Dean Martin, and Hope Lange.
David-Matthew fell in love with writing at the early age of 7, when his second-grade teacher recognized his storytelling talents after he wrote a Halloween-themed story titled The Blue Witch. Thanks to his sixth-grade drama teacher, who saw playwriting potential in him, Barnes' first play was produced when he was only 11. The script was a tribute to soap operas titled Life Isn't Easy. By the age of 13, David-Matthew was writing plays and short stories on a second-hand typewriter. David-Matthew credits meeting young adult author Norma Fox Mazer (who was a visiting author at his junior high school) as the defining moment when he knew he would become a writer.
As a teenager, David-Matthew lived primarily in Northern California, where he attended the Visual and Performing Arts Center (VAPAC) at Sacramento High School and later Berkeley High School. In high school, David-Matthew discovered a love for cheerleading, which would become a part of his life for over a decade.
At the age of 15, David-Matthew became a regular on the television series Dance Floor '86, which he appeared on for one year. That same year he published his first short story, a dramatic tale of five teenagers surviving the aftermath of a nuclear war titled The Children Are Crying, featured in the anthology Across the Generations. He has been a professional writer since.
David-Matthew wrote and directed the coming-of-age indie film Frozen Stars (starring Lana Parrilla of ABC's Once Upon a Time), which received worldwide distribution and is available via Netflix DVD. The film was recognized for featuring a predominantly Latino cast. As a result, the film was the subject of international press coverage and received a world premiere screening at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles.
David-Matthew then directed an independent documentary called Why So Fly?, which offered a backstage look at the all-female hip-hop trio Northern State.
The Other Side of Pretty, a television project about the loves and tribulations of a single mother that David-Matthew co-wrote with acclaimed producer Frankie Hernandez, was named a finalist for the 2018 Sundance Institute - YouTube New Voices Lab.
In 2018, his one-act play Bracelets and Boyfriends was adapted into an award-winning short film, produced by Flickers Studio, directed by Nadia Ramoutar, and starring Cindy Hogan and Rita Manyette.
The screenplay adaptation of David-Matthew's one-act play Baby in the Basement received the European Independent Film Award for Best Short Film Script and the award for Best Short Film Script from the Mindfield Film Festival in Albuquerque. The script was also named a finalist for Best Short Script at the Play Film Festival in Paris.
In 2020, Baby in the Basement was adapted into a short film, produced by Empowerment Productions 33, directed by Dina Faye Gilmore, and starring Josette Aderhold and Tristan Wolf, and earned multiple awards from film festivals around the world, including a Los Angeles Film Award for Best Actress in an Indie Film. The film tells the dramatic story of two teen runaways whose friendship sadly turns into a mutual suicide pact,
In 2020, David-Matthew's acclaimed screenplay Boxcar (Dutch title: Wagon) was produced by Kupenda Films and Revolver Amsterdam and directed by Dutch filmmaker Coen Haver. For the script, David-Matthew received the award for Best Short Screenplay at the New Renaissance Film Festival in Amsterdam, the award for Best Short Script at the Play Film Festival in Paris, the award for Best Short Screenplay at the Sunday Shorts Film Festival in London, and a Los Angeles Film Award for Best Drama Screenplay. Boxcar is available from Cinetree.
For his dramatic screenplay Made From Scratch, David-Matthew was named the Grand Prize Jury Winner at Film Invasion L.A. The script also received an award from the Colorado International Film Festival.
David-Matthew's screenplays have been named official selections and have received recognition at film festivals around the world, including: Anaheim International Film Festival, Atlanta Comedy Film Festival, Beverly Hills Film Festival, Big Bear Film Summit, Canadian Diversity Film Festival, Chicago Horror Film Festival, Chicago Indie Film Awards, Chicago Screenplay Awards, Hollywood Horror Film Festival, London Cinematic International Film Festival, Mile High Horror Film Festival, New York Movie Awards, Omaha Film Festival, Oregon Scream Week, Oz Indie Film Festival, Pasadena International Film Festival, Plot Point Awards, Prisma Independent Film Awards (Rome), Prix Royal Paris Screenplay Awards, Rome International Cinefest, San Diego Movie Awards, San Pedro International Film Festival, Shriekfest, Tokyo International Short Film Festival, and the Workers Unite Film Festival.
David-Matthew's bestselling novels are available from Blue Dasher Press and Cayélle Publishing. His most recent book is the bestselling holiday romance novel The Everlasting Gift.
To date, David-Matthew has written seventy stage plays that have been performed in three languages in eleven countries. His scripts and monologues are available from Blue Dasher Press, Brooklyn Publishers, Drama Notebook, Performer Stuff, Playscripts, and Smith and Kraus.
David-Matthew's stage plays have been official selections for the Chicago Director's Festival, the DC Queer Theatre Festival, FronteraFest, the Johannesburg One-Act Drama Festival, the Mid-America Dramatists Lab, the NYC 15-Minute Play Festival, the Rough Writers New Play Festival, Spectrum: LGBT New Play Festival, and the Western Australia Drama Festival.
His plays have been performed on stages across the country including the American Globe Theatre, the Boston Center for the Arts, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Hyde Park Theatre, and the Producer's Club in New York City. Internationally his plays have been produced in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Guam, India, New Zealand, South Africa, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom.
His short play Shallow End (which explores the impact sexual assault has on two teenagers) was named a top 15 finalist for the 2020 Billy Roche International Short Play Award. His 80's-themed coming-of-age script The Truants received the award for Best Stage Play at the 2020 Script and Storyboard Showcase in Los Angeles.
His literary work has appeared in over one hundred publications including The Best Stage Scenes, The Best Women's Stage Monologues, The Best Men's Stage Monologues, The Best 10-Minute Plays, The Comstock Review, The Magnolia Review, Memoryhouse, New Plains Review, Review Americana, The Southeast Review, 105 Five-Minute Plays for Study and Performance, and several collections in the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series.
David-Matthew was selected by Kent State University as the national winner of the Hart Crane Memorial Poetry Award. In addition, he has received the Carrie McCray Memorial Literary Award, the Slam Boston Award for Best Play, and earned double awards for poetry and playwriting in the World AIDS Day Writing Contest. He has received national awards in the Split This Rock Poetry Contest and the New Works for Young Women playwriting competition. He is the winner of two Elly Awards from the Sacramento Area Regional Theatre Alliance, an award from Writer’s Digest, and an award from the Florida Freelance Writers Association. He is a Pushcart Prize nominee.
As an actor, David-Matthew has appeared in several plays including roles in After Magritte, Big Love, A Comedy of Errors, Marat/Sade, Measure for Measure, No Place to Be Somebody, Once A Catholic, Our Town, The Real Thing, Sexual Perversity in Chicago, The Shadow Box, Twelfth Night, Vito on the Beach, and a touring production of Raggedy Ann and Andy. His television credits include In the Raw, My Super Sweet 16, Music Alive, and Trauma. He is a workshop student of actress Nancy Sullivan and casting director Jane Jenkins.
As a theatre director, David-Matthew has brought more than 40 shows to the stage, including productions of Bent, Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, The House of Yes, Macbeth, Pride and Prejudice, Steel Magnolias, Suburbia, Teach Me How to Cry, The Vagina Monologues, and the Colorado premiere of The Best of Everything, adapted for the stage by Julie Kramer, from the novel by Rona Jaffe.
David-Matthew has been an educator for fifteen years, teaching undergraduate and graduate level courses in many subjects including acting, creative writing, English, humanities, public speaking, and theatre. He was nationally selected to serve as the Emerging Writer-in-Residence at Pennsylvania State University.
David-Matthew received a scholarship to study playwriting in workshop with Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner Marsha Norman at the Southampton Theatre Conference at Stony Brook University in New York. While there, David-Matthew was also selected for a private workshop with bestselling author Joyce Carol Oates. David-Matthew has been a Master Class student of powerhouse television producer and writer Shonda Rhimes and bestselling author Judy Blume. He has also been a workshop student of award-winning author Francesca Lia Block, writer and translator Achy Obejas, bestselling author Dorothy Allison, and poet Lauren Zuniga.
David-Matthew is a recent graduate of the Professional Program in Screenwriting at UCLA. Prior to that, he graduated with honors from Oglethorpe University in Atlanta with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and English. He earned an Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina. In addition, David-Matthew studied playwriting at The Theatre School of DePaul University, television production and fiction writing at Columbia College Chicago, and theatre arts at American River College.
David-Matthew loves 50's B-movies, 80's horror films, board games, carnations, classic cartoons, Disney villains, film noir, Halloween (the film franchise and the holiday), Julie London records, koalas, mermaids, Nancy Drew, the Peanuts gang, pinball, slasher films, tacos, theatre, all things Tiki, white chocolate, vintage Gothic romance novels, and everything written by Judy Blume.
A fan of all things Disney, David-Matthew is a gold member of D23. He is also a member of International Thriller Writers (ITW) and the United Church of Christ.
He has been married to Edward Castillo Ortiz since November of 2016.
Originally from Northern California, David-Matthew currently lives in Denver.
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Watch David-Matthew's interview with Playwright's Spotlight.