Lamar Giles
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The month in review and overcompensating

I’ve been having trouble keeping up with the blog…surprise, surprise. Ever since I started a blog many years ago, I’ve gone through spurts of white-hot intensity where I’m dropping posts 3 times a week, responding to comments, and just being That Guy. Then, the inevitable drop-off comes. I don’t have much to say. I’m distracted by a writing project. I just lose track of time. Then I happen to notice the date of my last entry and succumb to guilt akin to a dieter blacking out and waking up in a bakery, having massacred all the cupcakes. Like now.

It’s been a pretty busy month, and I’d like to catch you up on a couple of things. So, see, this is how I apologize, by overcompensating. That’s healthy, right?

My New Hangouts

Because I’m so great about timely blog entries here on my own site, it only made sense that I’d agree to write for TWO OTHER blogs as well. I’m now a regular contributor at Sleuths, Spies, and Alibis – a group of YA Adult Mystery writers who blog on all topics related to crime, literature, and kids (what a combo). I also contribute to The Lucky 13s – a group of debut YA authors across many genres who all have pub dates in 2013.

There’s a lot of good stuff at both of these blogs, so be sure to check them out.

Recent Interviews

In case you missed them, I participated in a couple of fun blogs/interviews for Aimee Salter and Daisy Whitney.

In Other News

I’ve finished a draft of a YA Urban Fantasy novel and hope to get that revised soon so I can tell you more about it. And I’m halfway through a YA Paranormal¬† novel (really it’s Horror, but I’ve been told the P-word in more aesthetically pleasing than the H-word nowadays). Again, more on that soon.

That’s all, folks. For now.

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Is a perfect Ten good enough for Hollywood?

I just finished From Cape Town with Love by Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes, the third book in their incredible Tennyson Hardwick series, and my review at the end of this post can also be found on the book’s Amazon page where it’s currently enjoying a 5-star rating (fyi~ that means its really good, y’all, so buy it). But, there’s something else I want to discuss here. Particularly, another Amazon reviewer’s mysticism over Actor Blair Underwood’s involvement with the novel.

I’ve been a huge fan of all three principles involved in this book for years (incidentally, Underwood is a local celebrity where I grew up…he’s from Petersburg, VA, neighbor and sports rival to my own home town of Hopewell, VA), so I’ve made a point to follow the history and development of this series. I’ll give a brief recap of Tennyson’s evolution (this is strictly as I understand it, if I get any part of this wrong, someone please feel free to correct me), then discuss why such a team-up is important.

From what I’ve pieced together, Underwood, Due, and Barnes all played a hand in creating the current version of Tennyson Hardwick, meaning everyone had input, but when it came to actually putting pen to paper, Due and Barnes did the heavy lifting (though Underwood was never out of the loop). The first novel in the series, Casanegra, debuted in 2007, with the second, In the Night of the Heat, coming a year later.

Tennyson (or “Ten”…a couple of reasons for this nickname which I won’t get into here) is a former male “escort”, sometime actor, and all-time trouble magnet. He lives in L. A. navigating the Hollywood landscape that we all love to gossip about while caring for his elderly father, and avoiding a black belt in martial arts though he’s more than skilled enough to acquire one. The first novel has him investigating the murder of a female rapper/former lover, in the second it’s the death of an NFL player who’d been accused of killing his wife, and the third has him involved in a high-profile kidnapping case. Weighty stuff for an oft-unemployed black actor, right?

But, each book is amazingly well-written, with layering that makes the odd mix of skills and events described above not only plausible, but tragic. Tennyson goes on an almost yearly tour of Hell, not much different than a Jack Bauer, or a Buffy Summers, or a Bruce Wayne. I make these pop culture references for a specific reason. I’m sure that someone reading my brief description of Tennyson Hardwick above might’ve thought, “Wow, how far-fetched is that?”

More so than a super agent who’s pulled a gun on the president, a teenaged girl with super-strength and collection of wooden stakes, or a billionaire who dresses up like a bat and fights the Joker?

Okay, there’s a lot of wild characters in pop culture, what’s your point, Lamar?

My point is this: it’s been no secret from the beginning of the series that Underwood, Due, and Barnes have had visions of Tennyson on the big screen (maybe the small screen…some screen, somewhere). Underwood IS Tennyson, his public face and publicist. As an accomplished black actor he brings visibility to the series that they wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. Unlike books that garner studio interest before even being released, the extremely strong concept of the Tennyson Hardwick series HAS to go on the campaign trail. There have to be correlations drawn, like those word problems on the SAT:

IF Blair Underwood has been successful in TV and Film, AND Blair Underwood is Tennyson Hardwick, THEN Tennyson Hardwick *MIGHT be successful in TV and Film.

*I use ‘might’ because I’d love to see Ten on the big screen. The problem is when it comes to media images–the characters you see in movies, TV, commercials, and in magazines–we still live in a world that is highly exclusionary of People of Color. This is nothing new. Steven Barnes, one of Tennyson’s creators, comments on this very issue often. And, if anyone takes the time to notice (and most people don’t want to), you don’t really have to dig that deep to see it for yourself. In recent films, at that.

So, Mr. Reviewer who was put off by Blair Underwood’s involvement, please understand that it’s necessary.¬† It’s an attempt to get whoever makes the decisions in movie land to see the absurdity of how things are done. In a place where government agents can save the world in a mere 24 hours on 8 separate occasions, a girl can kill vampires and still make it to class on time, and a rich guy can fly a custom made Bat-plane off his property with no one noticing, a handsome black man who solves crimes SHOULD NOT be the most unrealistic pitch of the day.

And now, my review of From Cape Town with Love:

Hardwick. Tennyson Hardwick…the under worked actor turned bodyguard turned P.I. steps into the world of international intrigue in this third installment of the fan favorite series. And he does not disappoint. When the adopted South African daughter of Oscar-winning actress Sofia Maitlin is kidnapped on Tennyson’s watch, he’ll raze the earth to bring the child home. But, there is more going on than meets the eye. To say much more would spoil some wonderful surprises, but I will posit that there is something here to suit all tastes. Wonderful martial arts and gun play, romance, sex, fast cars, beautiful women, and more fun twists and turns than a water slide. Do yourself a favor, accompany Tennyson on his latest mission…just be sure to keep you head down, and do as he says because no one does this better than him. (5 stars)

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