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Monday, September 27, 2010

My African Immortals Series--next installment, My Soul to Take (2011)

In 1997, I published a novel entitled My Soul to Keep that marked the beginning of what I now call my African Immortals series.  The story centers around a 500-year-old Ethiopian immortal named Dawit and the Miami newspaper reporter, Jessica, who is unwittingly married to him.  At the time, I had no series in mind.

The novel was a watershed for me:  It has endured as a reader favorite, and was blurbed by Octavia E. Butler and Stephen King, who wrote that it "bears favorable comparison to Interview with the Vampire."  The genesis of the story was simple:  What would it be like to discover that your husband has a secret?  What if he never got sick and never aged, and his Brothers were ready to summon him home?

Ultimately, My Soul to Keep is about the price of immortality.

In 2001, I published what I thought would be the definitive sequel, entitled The Living Blood, which won a 2002 American Book Award.  With the birth of an immortal child named Fana, this book wrestled with questions of parenthood and destiny:  How do you raise a child who is more powerful than you are?  This novel also introduced the concept of how dangerous it might be to have blood in your veins that could heal any illness with only a drop.  (Think of nations rich in oil or diamonds, and you get the idea.  Conflict follows riches.)

In 2008, I published another unexpected sequel, this one entitled Blood Colony, which revisited my powerful toddler as a headstrong teenager bent on distributing her blood to the world in the form of a an underground drug called Glow.  I also introduced the idea that my African Immortals are not the only ones with the Living Blood to give them eternal life...and that even a great gift can be badly abused.   Blood Colony was nominated for an NAACP Image Award.

Unlike with its predecessors, I knew that I wanted to write another installment after Blood Colony...because the story of Fana's meeting with her immortal Bloodborn counterpart was far from over.

Last week, I turned in a manuscript for a novel my publisher has tentatively entitled My Soul to Take (no, it's not the Wes Craven movie coming out this month), which will be what my sister jokingly refers to as "the fourth novel in a trilogy."  This novel will begin a year after Blood Colony, which was set in the year 2015, and it picks up the story almost exactly where it left off.  This installment is about the price of power.

Unfortunately, the fourth African Immortals novel won't be published until the fall of 2011, which is a long wait   for all of us.  To help give readers a "fix," I've launched a Facebook fan page for Fana [see sidebar], written in her own voice, to help establish the world of the novel with snippets from the character's life.   In my writing blog, "Tananarive Due Writes," I'll post soon about how difficult it is to pull myself out of the daily writing of that book and walk away yet again.  (Thank goodness I can leapfrog to other projects like the Devil's Wake zombie novel I'm co-authoring with my husband, Steven Barnes.)  

I can't thank readers enough for the support they have given this series, which has truly changed my life.  I first met actor Blair Underwood through My Soul to Keep, since he was electrified by the immortal character Dawit.  Now, Blair, Steve and I have published three installments of the Tennyson Hardwick mystery series you have seen on this blog.  (My Soul to Keep is currently in film development at Fox Searchlight, where it has been for about seven years.  Blair is one of the producers who helped get it set up at the studio.  Whenever there is news, I will post it here and on Fana's Facebook page.)

There is plenty of time for readers to reacquaint themselves with the first three books in the series, or to discover them for the first time.  I hope to meet readers new and old through Fana's Facebook page, and I'll do everything I can to make the next year pass quickly.

Let's have some fun while we wait!