Thursday, November 21, 2013

Wonderland VBT

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.

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.”

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This Isn’t Alice’s Wonderland
A Guest Blog by David-Matthew Barnes

One of the important rules of writing I subscribe to is: if you do something that’s been done before, do it differently. This was certainly the case with my novel Wonderland. Treading into the sacred ground of the Lewis Carroll classic is risky to say the least. The images are iconic. The characters are unforgettable. The story is timeless. No matter what adaptation emerges, there’s no way to build upon greatness.

It was never my aim to retell a tale that’s already been told. Instead, I paid tribute. Growing up, I was an avid reader. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was certainly a part of my young life, encouraging me to dream and imagine. Like so many other children, I dreamed of a colorful place rich with adventures and fun – a wonderland to escape to. I brought all of this with me into the creative process while writing the novel.

Although I was constantly aware of Carroll’s classic, I was determined to stay true to my characters, stick to my original vision, tell my own story. The end result is a tale of a young girl who – through love and magic – discovers that despite the sadness she’s encountered along the way, life promises to improve greatly.

In Wonderland, you will certainly recognize certain familiar elements: a young blonde protagonist searching to discover whether or not she believes in magic, a somewhat mystical place she finds herself stumbling into that is filled with hope and possibilities, the sudden presence of love in a time and place it is least expected. Even a white rabbit makes an appearance. But, truly, that’s where the comparisons start and end.

The focus here is grief. Destiny Moore is 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.

As a writer, I was fascinated by the transitions Destiny experiences as she walks through each stage of grief. To her experiences, I added many components: she has to leave her hometown of Chicago and live with her two gay uncles on an island in South Carolina, she’s befriended by two misfits who – through their struggles – teach her what it means to be different in a place where different is not cool, she meets a boy named Dominic with whom she falls in love with only to find out their relationship could be doomed before it even starts. Through all of this, Destiny is slowly coming to terms with the loss of her mother. By incorporating supernatural and paranormal elements into her story, I was able to heighten Destiny’s journey. Much like Alice, Destiny discovers the greatest source of strength is within. Along the way, she also discovers she believes in love and magic.

Here’s a song that inspired the novel: Wonderland by Natalia Kills.

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.

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