Friday, October 10, 2008
Fall Into Fiction 2008
It was a beautiful, sunny day of 80 degrees weather in beautiful Long, Beach California when over 200 beautiful people descended on the Long Beach Petroleum Club on Saturday, September 27, 2008 for the second annual Fall into Fiction event sponsored by the United California African American Book Clubs aka UCAAB. UCAAB is a consortium of African American book clubs in California. They all have two things in common; they love books and they love to meet and mingle with the authors of the books they enjoy reading.
Last year we met in Oakland and Marcus Book Store (home of Marcus Book Club) was the bookseller. This year, Eso Won Books, another long time black-owned bookstore was the designated book seller. LaRhonda Crosby-Johnson and I flew down for the festivities from Oakland and hooked up with our sisters, Tira McDonald and Deb Burton.
This years guests were Tananarive Due, Stephen Barnes, Gabriella Pina, Victoria Christopher Murray and Gary Hardwick. Roland Jefferson, a local writer, gracefully maneuvered a Q & A session with the authors as the master of ceremonies. Some of the questions asked were about reviews; can authors influence them and how do they react to negative reviews? Other questions asked were “What motivates you to write?” and “How did you get published?”
Tananarive Due does not appear to take well to negative reviews; her first book The Between received an unfavorable review from a fellow journalist which was quite painful for her. She has an upcoming anthology, The Ancestors, with Brian Massey and L.A. Banks (which is going to be an Essence book of the month), and her current release is Blood Colony, the long awaited sequel to My Soul to Keep and The Living Blood. Speaking of which, everyone wanted to know if and when My Soul to keep is going to make it to the big screen. Due said that the studio still has the rights and they are in limbo. Surprisingly, her best-selling book has been Casanegra, a mystery she collaborated with her husband, Stephen Barnes, and actor Blair Underwood. Due is a favorite with both Marcus Book Store (we have discussed all of her novels) and my online book group, APOOO. www.apooobooks.com
Stephen Barnes’ current release is Great Sky Woman and he is working on the sequel. He appreciates well-written, intelligent reviews by people who actually read the book. He went to Africa for research for GSW; it was a must to create this half-science/half-mystic masterpiece. Barnes is also a screenwriter with several credits, including a BET movie based on Hannibal with Vin Diesel in the lead role. He believes you can break into publishing by writing short stories and giving yourself permission to suck. He recommends The Lion’s Blood as an introduction to his work for the first time. In that book where slavery was reversed with whites slaves, he gave more humanity to them than they ever gave to us.
Gabriella Pina is a wife and mother of three children. She finds it is best to work on one project at a time. Her third book is actually due to her editor this month but it might take a little longer. She believes authors have no say-so in reviews and does not take them personally. Pina went back to grad school at USC for a writing degree and is now teaching there. She cites the Writers Market as a great resource to get an idea of what agents and publishers want. Her books, Bliss and Chasing Sophea are favorites with fans.
Victoria Christopher Murray has been called the bad girl of Christian Fiction because she includes gasp! S-E-X in her stories of fire and brimstone, redemption and forgiveness. She has even received reviews that have gotten personal, questioning her Christianity. A puzzle to her is how she even got pigeon-holed into the CF genre. She is the author of three books that feature bad girl, Jasmine, the woman you love to hate. The series includes Temptation, A Sin and a Shame and Too Little, Too Late. She writes three books a year and is now writing young adult/teen fiction. She believes persistence is the key to getting published.
Gary Hardwick was clearly a favorite at the event. This brother, writer of political thrillers and screenwriter/producer of such films as The Brothers and Deliver Us from Eva, is a multi-tasker, always juggling several projects on any given day. Hardwick is working on a script to make his Executioner’s Game into a movie with Jamie Foxx playing the lead. He has thrilled fans with other novels Supreme Justice, Double Dead and Color of Justice, which has been one of his biggest best-sellers. He has been called the black Elmore Leonard, who like Hardwick, is a Detroit native. But Hardwick said he could not have dreamed up what is currently happening in his hometown with the sex, lies, and tapes replete with bodies in the river scenario being played out. Hardwick would like to produce Due’s My Soul to Keep and is quick to acknowledge the racism that goes on in Hollywood.
I was able to catch up with my APOOO sister, Joan Burke Stanford, with her sisters from the African Violet Book Club from the Los Angeles area. Membership is open to all African American book clubs in California. We are looking to grow to grow our membership. See you next year back in the Bay Area.