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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Tananarive Q & A

I try my best to answer reader questions individually, but that isn't always possible. So...I've decided to start posting questions and answers on my blog. Thanks so much for your interest!

Q: How can I purchase audio books on CD for My Soul To Keep, The Living Blood, and Blood Colony? These are my grandmother’s favorite books, and I routinely read them to her, but have just taken a full-time job and would like to give these to her as a gift. Please advise as soon as possible, as I would like to surprise her for her 85th birthday August 30th. Thanks for your help.--S.M.

A: That's wonderful that you read these books for your grandmother--and I definitely recommend that ALL readers check out audio books, especially older readers. I am currently listening to the audio book of The Good House as I fall asleep at night. (No, it doesn't give me nightmares!)

My Soul to Keep and The Living Blood are available on MP3 audio form (i.e., for an iPod) from Audible through You may also purchase or rent them from Recorded Books at I warn you, they are expensive to buy!

Unfortunately, at this time there is no audio book for Blood Colony.

Q:I really LOVE your novels. I actually had the chance to make it out to your book signing in Burbank in June and it was truly a highlight of my trip to Los Angeles! I just finished reading the autographed copy of The Blood Colony. But one question has been nagging me since i read the living blood. Why didn't Teferi die from exsanguination when his son drained his blood from him? --Nicole B.

A: Ah!!! This is a question from a hard-core reader of my African Immortals series. In The Living Blood--the second book in the series--one of my immortals, Teferi, tells the story of being drained of his blood by his jealous mortal son, who is stealing blood to heal himself.

Why do some immortals die when their blood is drained and others do not?

The answer is simply this: magic. The kind of exsanguination performed on Teferi was by a mere mortal who slit him open. The blood would drain, but not ALL of it... and the remaining blood would rejuvenate. Fana is also not just any immortal: She has enhanced psychic abilities that enable her to exsanguinate mortals or immortals alike through the power of her mind. In Fana's case, exsanguination is COMPLETE. There are no remaining blood cells to rejuvenate. Because of her abilities, she can achieve perfection in a way a random throat-slitting would not. (There would still be some blood left SOMEWHERE...)

Q: Whatever happened to the film version of My Soul to Keep?

A: Blair Underwood and his production partners Nia Hill and D'Angela Steed of Strange Fruit Films got My Soul to Keep set up at Fox Searchlight a few years ago. Thus far, the studio has not been happy with the the movie is still in development.

One bright spot: I'm working on a film adaptation of my novel The Good House with my husband and writing partner, Steven Barnes. We've already been hired to write two drafts, and we're at work on the third. (I got my WGA membership!) Since this is also in development at Fox Searchlight, we are hoping for an opportunity to write a script for My Soul to Keep ourselves. But please be patient--we probably won't know until later this year!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Why Blair Underwood Deserves an Emmy

Dear Academy Voters:

OK, I admit it: I have known and worked with Blair for more than a decade now, and I’ve been a fan since “L.A. Law.” Many of Blair’s newer fans remember his work—and…er…his assets—in HBO’s “Sex & The City.” Or noticed him in Something New and Madea’s Family Reunion.

But a lot of us can take if farther back. Before I met Blair, when he appeared in 1996’s Set it Off as Jada Pinkett Smith’s love interest (if you haven’t seen it, rent it), I was moved to tears because I was a single woman convinced I would NEVER, EVER meet a man of the warmth, poise, intelligence and unabashed adoration Blair personified on-screen. (Turns out I married that guy after all, two year later—his name is Steven Barnes—but who knew?)

Blair deserves an Emmy for his work on television in the past year. Not just a nomination—which should be forthcoming next week—but he deserves to take home that statuette. If there was a category called “Busy,” Blair would win hands-down.

Blair is being lauded for his riveting portrayal of Alex, a Navy fighter pilot wrestling with demons after bombing an Iraqi school in HBO’s outstanding series "In Treatment." But let’s not forget that he was simultaneously appearing as the hunky Mr. Harris in CBS’s “The New Adventures of Old Christine” and as multilingual millionaire Simon Elder in ABC’s “Dirty Sexy Money.” Not to mention directing his first feature film, Bridge to Nowhere. And, oh yes, promoting our collaborative erotic mystery novel, Casanegra.

Blair juggled all of that AND managed to pull out his best work on television in the difficult and intimate one-on-one format of "In Treatment," opposite Gabriel Byrne.

After more than twenty years in the business, Blair has taken Hollywood by the throat and forced television viewers to take a good, long look beyond his face.

As I watched Alex on "In Treatment," I knew that character. I’ve seen that combination of rage and vulnerability in people I care about, and Blair nailed it. Blair peeled himself away to show us the human devastation and emptiness at the core of the horrible tasks we ask our young men and women in uniform to carry out far from home.

Maybe it’s because Blair’s father is a retired Air Force Colonel who lived that feeling when the cameras weren’t rolling. Maybe it’s because Blair could be justifiably pissed off that despite an impressive career, the slots for Black Leading Men in movies are few and far between—especially since he’s so obviously meant to play a love interest, not a wise-cracking buddy or a spiritual guide.

Whatever the reasons he was able to access that rage, Blair’s portrayal of Alex is as authentic as his smile is bright.

Every once in a while, an actor we’ve admired for years reminds us why we first noticed him in the first place. And reinvents himself before our eyes.

True, I’m biased. But anyone who didn’t notice that this was Blair Underwood’s year must not have been watching enough television.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Prince's party & a new video on Blood Colony

This year's Book Expo in Los Angeles was a truly memorable experience--mostly because Steve and I were invited to Atria publisher Judith Curr's famed party at Prince's house! I'd never had the privilege of watching this amazing artist perform live, and I was at the man's house, close enough to see his fingers on his guitar strings as he played "Purple Rain."

What a national treasure. Thank you for allowing us to share your space, sweet Prince.

(No, I did not see P. Diddy and Cameron Diaz. Frankly, once I noticed the waiting stage in the backyard, I simply planted myself there and waited for Prince to play. I could have been standing between Stallone and Dr. Phil, who were both there, and I wouldn't have noticed. I did, however, have the chance to talk to the lovely and brilliant Zane. We talked about her film project, Addicted, which is underway at Lionsgate. A success for one is a success for all. Zane is a one-woman dynamo, and I wish her nothing but good fortune!)

Peak moment: Every second of Prince's set.

Peak moment before his set: When the deejay played Michael Jackson's "Rock With You." At Prince's house! The term I have coined is "Disco Euphoria." Best...Party...EVER.

I left Prince a copy of Joplin's Ghost. I hope he'll read it...or just touch it.

Somehow, I did manage to pull off a coherent interview the next morning with Troy Johnson of the African-American Literature Book Club (, which is posted below from YouTube.
Thanks, Troy! You did a terrific job.

Hope you enjoy it...