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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

WiHM Author Spotlight on Tananarive Due

Today, I want to focus on the compelling pace, deft characterization, and intriguing horror of Tananarive Due.

Back in 2011, I had this post on Due as a a backlist author you should not miss.  In the post I talk about my love for the first book in the African Immortals series, My Soul to Keep.  Here is an excerpt from that post:

Today I want to highlight the work of Tananarive Due.  Due is an author of character driven, suspenseful horror titles that appeal to a wide audience.  The tension is palpable and there is violence in her novels, but as horror goes, it is on the less graphic end of the spectrum.  The fear and terror are invoked through the oppressive atmosphere and the horrific situations into which our characters are placed.
I often take readers who enjoy Stephen KingDean Koontz, and John Saul, but are looking for something new, to the shelf with Due's titles.  I have yet to find a reader who knew about her before I brought them to "DUE."  I also always try to start these readers off with My Soul to Keep (1997).
In this compelling novel, a 500-year-old African immortal man is living in modern times as David, a jazz scholar in a middle-class family.  He has had many lives and loves throughout his long life, but his current situation as husband to Jessica and father to Kira is extremely satisfying.  However, David's original family of immortals asks him to sever all ties with Jessica and Kira in order to save their kind.  It is David, the tough choices he is forced to make, and the fury of his original people that drives the story here.
This novel is one of my tried and true horror suggestions so people looking for a good scary book.  I have given this backlist gem out to at least a dozen readers over the years and have yet to find an unsatisfied patron.  In fact, hand selling this title to people has helped me to forge a deeper relationship with patrons.  They have often returned to express their gratitude; this just happened most recently in November.  Their pleasure with Due's novels lead them to seek out our staff's help more regularly.  It is a win-win situation for us all.

Since January of 2011, when I wrote that post, Due has only continued to prove me right.  Specifically, I have really enjoyed the linked zombie novels Due has published with her husband, Steven Barnes Devil’s Wake (2012) and Domino Falls (2013)

Here’s the Library Journal review of Devil’s Wake [accessed via NoveList]:

When a mysterious epidemic transforms its victims into rage-filled creatures driven to attack and feed on other humans, a few survivors seek refuge in a world driven mad. Teenaged Kendra, set adrift when her family succumbs to the virus, encounters a group of young people in a school bus heading down the West Coast in the hope that they can find one of several rumored safe places before they fall prey to the many roving zombie gangs. The husband-and-wife writing team of Barnes (Great Sky Woman; Shadow Valley ) and Due (My Soul To Keep; The Black Rose ) puts a fresh spin on the zombie plague motif by hinting at an extraterrestrial origin of the phenomenon. VERDICT Gruesome but not overly graphic, this tale of young people struggling to remain human—and humane—in a post-apocalyptic near future features top-notch storytelling and believable characters. --Jackie Cassada (Reviewed July 1, 2012) (Library Journal, vol 137, issue 12, p64)

Due also takes her place as an African American and a woman in horror very seriously and is willing to speak about how her work offers a diverse look at the genre.  If you are interested in hearing more from Due herself (and I highly recommend it), please go to the “Interviews” tab on her homepage where she has links to appearances and even the transcript to an interview.

If you haven’t read Tananarive Due before, you are missing out on a fantastic horror storyteller.

Back Friday with another WiHM post.

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