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Thursday, May 27, 2010

From Cape Town with Love: Now showing on an iPad near you! (Or an iPhone...or your computer...)

       One glance at our new novel, From Cape Town with Love (Atria Books), will tell you that it wants to be a movie.  The title is a riff of the James Bond movie From Russia with Love.  The cover looks like a movie poster, and the book has its own iMix soundtrack.

         That was the idea behind the Tennyson Hardwick series the three of us envisioned:  me, my husband, Steven Barnes, and actor Blair Underwood.  We want to give readers good books, and we want to see those books on the big screen.   Why not? 

            This week, Tennyson Hardwick came to life in the Vook (video ebook) version of our novel, which officially launched today for $6.99.  The Vook and the hardcover versions are the same story, but the Vook is only about 85 of the novel’s 350 pages.  The writing is less steamy, with an eye toward a younger audience.

            But the Vook has something the novel doesn’t:  Video webisodes to illustrate key scenes. In the scene below, an Oscar-winning Hollywood actress hires Tennyson to be her bodyguard when she visits an orphanage in a South African township—setting From Cape Town with Love in motion. 


(Blair Underwood and Noa Tishby.  PHOTO CREDIT:  Tananarive Due)

       As soon as he heard about Vooks from Atria Books publisher Judith Curr, Blair jumped at the chance to direct, produce and star in the webisodes.  His book trailer blew us away. 

            When I downloaded the Vook to my iPhone and experienced it for the first time, I giggled at how much the experience reminded me of being a kid reading a book with pictures, delighting at unexpected video stills that captured the moment just right.  I missed the text we cut out, but the videos added a new dimension.  (Also available for iPad and computers.)

        For this writer with long-held dreams of crossing from books to film, this process has been a magical Hollywood affair.

One sizzling video stars Underwood and Kellita Smith (“The Bernie Mac Show”).   The actress playing Oscar winner Sofia Maitlin, Noa Tishby, is the co-executive producer of HBO’s “In Treatment,” the series where Blair was nominated for a Golden Globe.  
The shoot was covered by “Extra,” and its coverage will air Saturday and Sunday.   (Check local listings.)

(Blair Underwood and Kellita Smith.  PHOTO CREDIT:  Maria Rivera Savoy)

Blair interviewed on the set by "Extra"'s Terri Seymour

(PHOTO CREDIT:  Maria Rivera Savoy) 

            Buy the hardcover too.  But when you’ve read From Cape Town with Love, you won’t want to miss the Vook. 

Monday, May 17, 2010

From Cape Town with Love: Launch week! Blair Underwood on "Today"

This week marks the hardcover publication of From Cape Town with Love (Atria Books) and a Vook video e-book edition with exciting video clips dramatized directly from the book's pages by Blair Underwood and other familiar faces, inluding a memorable appearance by Kellita Smith ("The Bernie Mac Show").   

From Cape Town with Love is a collaboration between me and my husband, Steven Barnes, and actor Blair Underwood.   This is the third in our Tennyson Hardwick mystery/thriller series that began with Casanegra and In the Night of the Heat, which won a 2009 NAACP Image Award.  [Read earlier posts to learn more.] 

Today, Blair Underwood appeared on NBC's "Today" Show to promote From Cape Town with Love and his new NBC series, "The Event," where he'll play the President of the United States. (Mondays at 9 p.m. this fall--our old "24" TV viewing spot!).  

During today's interview, "Today" played video clips from the footage Blair shot from our novel!  

Read the unabridged hardcover AND the abridged Vook--which will be worth the price for the video clips alone.  Bring a computer or iPad to your book club meeting with a bottle of South African wine, and you'll be a hit!  


From Cape Town with Love: A Tennyson Hardwick Novel

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Hollywood, meet Tennyson Hardwick... (NEW VIDEO TRAILER!)

     I first met Blair Underwood years ago through his efforts to mount a film version of a novel I sent him when I was a new writer.  My husband, Steven Barnes, and I have been collaborating on fiction and screenplays for a dozen years. 

    In 2007, the Tennyson Hardwick series was born as an answer to the lessons we have learned in Hollywood—Blair as an actor, storyteller, director and producer, and Steve and I as writers.  We wanted to create high-quality fiction with a cinematic sensibility, so readers couldn’t help imagining the movie version.

    Why three authors?  There’s power in numbers.
    We all bring different strengths and tastes.  And we all wanted our books to blur the line between books and film so that we wouldn’t be limited by budgets, delays or stereotypes.  We wanted strong characters, plenty of action, and memorable love scenes for our hero.

     The book titles riff off of classic Hollywood movies. Plots are ripped from the celebrity headlines.  The hero, Tennyson Hardwick, is an actor who moonlights as a bodyguard and detective, and his past as a gigolo to powerful women comes back to haunt him in unexpected ways.

     The first novel, Casanegra., was an Essence Book Club pick.  The second novel, In the Night of the Heat, won an NAACP Image Award.   

     The newest novel, From Cape Town with Love (Atria Books), will be published May 18 in hardcover—but on a new platform called a Vook on May 20.  Vooks, which are video e-books, are the perfect home for Tennyson Hardwick.  This time around, we wanted a James Bond flair.  
With Vooks, readers read an abridged version of the novel on their computers, iPhones or iPads.  (To find out more about the process of creating a Vook, visit

       What does it really look like when publishing meets Hollywood?

       We think it looks something like this.


      From Cape Town with Love Vook (abridged) with video clips available at, and iTunes on May 20. 

       Original hardcover available in bookstores everywhere May 18. 



  BELOW:  A discussion featuring Blair Underwood, Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes as they discuss the Tennyson Hardwick series.