Award-winning author, producer, professor, and expert on horror culture, Tananarive Due is finally being recognized as the trailblazer in Black horror that she has always been. Just two years after her documentary Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror documented the trails blazed by Black producers, directors, writers, and actors in the horror genre, Due’s own classic sci-fi horror novel The Between has just gotten a makeover and a rerelease, just as the spookiest of seasons gets into full swing
“To have a novel rereleased after all these years, with the interest in it and the kinds and numbers of interviews I’m doing, over a book that I published so many years ago, is just incredible,” she said of the novel’s rerelease.
The Between follows the plight of Hilton, a man who narrowly escaped drowning as a young child and can’t shake the feeling that he’s living on “borrowed time” as a result. 30 years later, his wife, a high-powered judge, is receiving death threats, his family is being stalked, and he is having increasingly intense nightmares where he’s tormented by an unseen enemy.
Not only has the novel been spruced up with a new cover image, but it also has a new audiobook component and an accompanying deep-dive into the book’s themes and meaning via Emma Roberts’ Belletrist + Book Club.
Due joined Emma Roberts and Karah Preiss in this month’s Belletrist + BookClub discussion series, discussing the impact of the now 25-year-old sci-fi/horror classic and its influence on the modern horror landscape.
“To have the book club launch and the Emma Roberts conversation as a part of it? Trust me when I got back home, my mouth was just hanging out. Like ‘Wow, what is happening?’”
The renewed interest is throwing Due for quite a loop. After spending decades pushing to have her books and those of her counterparts optioned for adaptation, suddenly the floodgates are open and both her old and so-new-it’s-barely-finished work is on the table for film and television.
“I’ve never had so much work under option at the same time,” she said, noting that not only The Between is on tap for adaptation, but heer 2003 novel The Good House and her as-yet-unreleased new novel The Reformatory as well. “That is pretty incredible. That is definitely new. I give a lot of credit, especially in terms of the TV film piece, to Jordan Peele and his work in horror, starting with Get Out.”
Due credits Peele’s work in pushing Black-led and Black-produced horror to the forefront with injecting Hollywood with this brand new interest in horror stories from Black creators, though it is a far cry from what she experienced in the 90’s.
“When I tried to go into those Hollywood pitching rooms to pitch an adaptation, I would get blank faces because people literally did not understand, ‘what is black horror?’ They didn’t understand,” she revealed. “Then if they liked the story, they would say, ‘That sounds great…do the characters have to be black?’”
Incredibly, this specific question even once came up regarding optioning her 1997 novel My Soul to Keep, in which the protagonist is a 500-year-old immortal, who, as such, experienced enslavement in the Antebellum south.
The author recognizes the strides Black horror media has made on the television and film fronts but acknowledges that that same energy hasn’t trickled over to literature.
“There’s been a big disconnect between the literature side and the Hollywood side in black horror,” she said. The key, she says, is to have access to the rooms where these decisions are made.
“I love that these original scripts are getting made, but for an original script to get made, you really need those creators to be in close proximity to Hollywood. Jordan Peele was a Hollywood insider when he made Get Out. Even though it was still an uphill battle for him, at least he had proximity.”
Due says that with all the resources at young creator’s fingertips and Hollywood constantly foaming at the mouth for fresh content, she’d love to see a new crop Black creators DIY their own way to success.
“There are demands of these hungry platforms that need content, content, content,” she noted.” It’s never been easier to make it yourself. I’m not saying it’s easy,” she clarified. “We need the disparate voices. We need different versions even of what Black horror looks like.”
In addition to teaching Black Horror and Afrofuturism at UCLA, Due is an executive producer on Shudder’s groundbreaking documentary Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror. She co-wrote the Black horror anthology film, also entitled Horror Noire, coming to the Shudder platform on October 28 (watch the chilling trailer above), and the rerelease of The Between is available wherever books are sold now and via Bookclub.com if you’d like to join in on this month’s conversation alongside Belletrist.