Tananarive Due, MFA

Affiliate Faculty, Fiction
MFA in Creative Writing
(310) 578-1080

MA in English Literature, University of Leeds, England

(fiction) — pronounced tah-nah-nah-REEVE doo — is the American Book Award-winning and NAACP Image Award-winning author of novels, screenplays and a civil rights memoir. She grew up in Miami, where she was a reporter for the Miami Herald, but she has also lived in the Pacific Northwest and now lives in Southern California. Due is best known for supernatural suspense and mysteries. Her newest novel, Blood Colony (June 2008), is the sequel to her 2001 thriller The Living Blood and 1997′s My Soul to KeepM. Her novella “Ghost Summer” is included in the collection The Ancestors collection, a January ’09 Essence Book Club pick. Her short fiction has been included in several anthologies, including Gumbo, Dark Dreams, Best Black Women’s Erotica and the Year’s Best Science Fiction. Due also collaborates with her husband, Steven Barnes. They published their first mystery, Casanegra: A Tennyson Hardwick Novel (2007), in collaboration with actor Blair Underwood. The series continued with In the Night of the Heat (2008), which won an NAACP Image Award. Due and Barnes sold their screenplay adaptation of her novel The Good House to Fox Searchlight, and they have a family drama/comedy in development at State Street Pictures. Due also co-authored a memoir with her mother, civil rights activist Patricia Stephen Due: Freedom in the Family: A Mother-Daughter Memoir of the Fight for Civil Rights. (Patricia Stephens Due took part in the nation’s first “Jail-In” in 1960, spending 49 days in jail in Tallahassee, Florida, after a sit-in at a Woolworth lunch counter.) Due’s third mystery collaboration, From Cape Town with Love, will be published in May 2010. She is currently writing a novel called Blood Prophecy, continuing the story of her African Immortals. Due lives in Southern California with Barnes; their son, Jason; and her stepdaughter, Nicki. Her website is at www.tananarivedue.com.

Each writer’s journey is different, so I try to tailor my approach to the needs of the student, whether your aspirations are so-called “literary” or “commercial”—or both. As a mentor, I track my students’ progress, help them identify strengths and weaknesses, and provide feedback to help create the fastest growth. My own background is in speculative fiction and mysteries, but my interests as a reader are broad, and I believe writers should read a wide selection of high-quality literature. I try not to bring in preconceived notions about what kind of writer you should be, focusing instead on helping to guide the writer you are, or strive to be.

As a mentor, I love the instant accessibility of short stories (beginning-middle-end), but I will also work with novels-in-progress as long as the pages are fresh. I expect 20-25 pages emailed to me via Microsoft Word each month—all of my comments will be made directly on the manuscript in “Review” mode, where my changes will be highlighted. I will give line edits as well as an overview statement each month, with more emphasis on one or the other depending on the stage and needs of the manuscript.

We will read five novels, one per month, and have reading conferences led by the mentees. I will chime in from time to time, but I’m mostly interested in hearing your feedback. I will also want brief annotations of each novel we read. Mentees can also choose to critique each other’s work in a separate discussion, but this is optional—and would have to be agreed upon by everyone. (In this case, mentees will be responsible for emailing their work to the others.)

Deadlines matter to me, and I ask for engagement. I also offer students an optional 15-to-30-minute phone conference once a month, which enables me to feel more personally engaged in the writer’s development.

My Soul to Take
Blood Colony
Joplin’s Ghost
The Good House
Freedom in the Family: A Mother-Daughter Memoir of the Fight
for Civil Rights (with Patricia Stephens Due)
The Living Blood
The Black Rose
My Soul to Keep
The Between