Tananarive Due, MA
Affiliate Faculty, MFA in Creative Writing Program
Tananarive Due (fiction) is an American Book Award winner and NAACP Image Award recipient and the author of twelve novels and a civil rights memoir. In 2010, she was inducted into the Medill School of Journalism’s Hall of Achievement at Northwestern University.
Due’s novella Ghost Summer published in the 2008 anthology The Ancestors, and received the 2008 Kindred Award from the Carl Brandon Society, and her short fiction has appeared in best-of-the-year anthologies of science fiction and fantasy. Due is a leading voice in black speculative fiction; a paper on Due’s work recently was presented at the College Language Association (CLA) Conference.
Her first short story collection, Ghost Summer, was published by Prime Books in June 2015.
Due collaborates on the Tennyson Hardwick mystery series with her husband, author Steven Barnes, in partnership with actor Blair Underwood. Due also wrote The Black Rose, a historical novel about the life of Madam C.J. Walker, based on the research of Alex Haley–and Freedom in the Family: A Mother-Daughter Memoir of the Fight for Civil Rights, which she co-authored with her mother, the late civil rights activist Patricia Stephens Due. Freedom in the Family was named 2003’s Best Civil Rights Memoir by Black Issues Book Review. (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.)
In 2004, alongside such luminaries as Nobel Prize-winner Toni Morrison, Due received the “New Voice in Literature Award” at the Yari Yari Pamberi conference co-sponsored by New York University’s Institute of African-American Affairs and African Studies Program and the Organization of Women Writers of Africa.
MA in English Literature, University of Leeds, England
My Soul to Take
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
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.