Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Essence Book Club News! (and a dab of football & TV)
Lots of great news in the past few days—and utterly unexpected.
In December, my ghost story "Ghost Summer" will be published in a book of novellas called The Ancestors (Kensington). The anthology includes me, L.A. Banks and Brandon Massey. We're kind of a literary family, so we decided to do a project together.
What do we have in common? We all write supernatural and paranormal fiction with black and multi-ethnic protagonists. Urban paranormal. Supernatural suspense. (Yikes—in some circles, even called horror!) And we've been doing it for a long time.
L.A. Banks has set publishing on fire with her New York Times bestselling Vampire Huntress Legends series. Brandon Massey writes awesome supernatural/suspense novels like Don't Ever Tell and The Other Brother, and his Dark Dreams anthologies have enlivened the genre, shining a light on talented supernatural writers like Terence Taylor, Linda Addison, Christopher Chambers, Robert Fleming and Michael Boatman. (Yes, the actor. Also a writer.)
And I’ve been writing about my own ghosts, curses, gifts and demons. My latest solo novel, Blood Colony, is about African immortals with healing blood, a follow-up to My Soul to Keep and The Living Blood.
I blurbed the first L.A. Banks and Brandon Massey novels—Minion and Thunderland, respectively—so I like to pat myself on the back for having the good sense to recognize talent and drive when I see it.
Slowly but surely, the audience has been growing. Even the great Octavia E. Butler wrote her own unique version of a vampire story in her last novel, Fledgling. (If you haven't read it…why not?)
Still, don't think we chose a well-paved road. It has been bumpy. Any reader who has ever argued on behalf of our novels at book clubs meetings knows that we haven't always been an easy sell. ("It's about WHAT?")
We know. It has been lonely, at times, to write what we do. We have all traded advice and war stories. And one day, we all said, "Hey, let's do a book together."
Well, we just learned that The Ancestors is the January ’09 pick for the Essence Book Club. We're grinning ear to ear. We didn't expect it.
I feel doubly blessed. Last summer, my mystery novel Casanegra—the predecessor to In the Night of the Heat, was picked by the Essence Book Club too. Ironically, Casanegra is also a collaboration—with my husband, Steven Barnes, and actor Blair Underwood.
Hmmm. What's the lesson from this happy surprise?
There is power in numbers? Readers will find you, so keep on writing?
We're just all so grateful for your support as readers over the years.
Thanks to you, The Ancestors will be out in December.
THE MIAMI DOLPHINS
The Miami Dolphins—who had been winless for twenty of their last twenty-one games—just gave the New England Patriots a legendary beating that has been the talk of sports television and radio. Some New England fans must be crying. As a Dolphins fan, I know how losses like that feel. (See my 12/16/07 blog on the agony of the 2007 season.)
So this win is not only big for Miami fans—it’s BIG, period. The Patriots! Last year’s Super Bowl contenders, who came within a fingernail of obliterating the Dolphins’ long-standing distinction as they only undefeated NFL team in a season, played like the 2007 Miami Dolphins. Trust me, that’s not a compliment.
It’s hard to fit it all in my head: The Miami Dolphins embarrassed New England 38-13. On New England’s home field. And no, the game was not just a dream—although that notion recurred persistently as I watched the rout.
Anything is possible.
Yes, we can.
I’m about to write my first television script! Steven Barnes, my husband, was just named story editor on BET’s “Hannibal” animated series, executive produced and directed by Vin Diesel—who will also voice the older version of African conqueror Hannibal. Steve and I are collaborating on a script, and we’re very excited. Watch for “Hannibal” in 2009!
**Blair Underwood will appear on "Live With Regis and Kelly" Friday, Oct. 3 to talk about In the Night of the Heat, our collaborative mystery novel. Don't forget to watch! (And see Blair's recent appearance on the "Today" show posted below...)
**I don’t want to miss Angela Bassett’s debut on NBC’s “ER” Sept. 25—all the more fun because she’s cast alongside true-life husband Courtney B. Vance, who will play her…husband! What a treat! I don’t know the storyline, but it’s bound to be powerfully acted. I’m one of the few people who has never seen an episode of “ER.” Guess I’m watching now.
** One word: “Dexter.” If you’re curious, rent Season 1 on DVD and see what all the fuss is about. Dare you to stop watching. The Season 3 premiere is Sept. 28 on Showtime.
**You know I’ll be watching Blair Underwood on ABC’s “Dirty Sexy Money” Oct. 1. The billboards for “Dirty, Sexy” are up all over Hollywood. Great cast also includes Lucy Liu, Peter Krause and Donald Sutherland. Blair has a meaty role—a multilingual billionaire who is the main family’s nemesis. Go, Blair! Even if you missed last season, you’ll catch up.