Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
50% science fiction, 50% historical fiction and 100% awesome, Kindred tells the story of a modern woman sent back to early 1800s Maryland to help an ancestor. For those who don’t know their history, Maryland was a slave state and this is pre- Civil War era. Our heroine’s journey is epic in scope and yet deeply personal and specific. Kindred is provocative, intelligent, and full of tension. It would make a taught historical, science fiction, thriller.
32 Candles by Ernessa T. Carter
A girl who was bullied in high school reinvents herself in glamorous Los Angeles, but her past catches up to her and threatens her new life. This riff on the John Hughes film 16 Candles has a cinematic feel and a charming heroine. This could be fantastic vehicle for Nicole Beharie, Yaya Dacosta or Adepero Oduye. It would be great to see a smart romantic comedy that it is actually funny!
Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self by Danielle Evans
This series of 8 short stories is so visual and full of life, that you could easily make 8 beautiful short films. The characters are so rich and vivid and come from different walks of life, but Evans imbues them with such distinct voices that it’s hard to believe that each story has the same author. She is a great talent, and short film adaptations of these stories would keep black and multi-racial actors working for years.
The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis
This novel explores the life of Hattie and her descendants over some of the most difficult and defining years in American history. There is so much for a filmmaker to play with in this novel; the imagery is staggering and the language is heightened and poetic.
Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
This visceral novel is steeped in mythology and jam-packed with visuals. Jesmyn Ward’s National Book Award winner explores the life of Esch, a teenage girl exploring the nature of love and sexuality in the days before Hurricane Katrina. It is raw, stunning, and definitely worthy of a first-class adaptation. Hunger Games actress Amandla Stenberg would shine in this role.