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David Anthony Durham

David Anthony Durham is a major contributor to the Wild Cards universe. His writing is featured in Wild Cards XXI: Fort Freak, Wild Cards XXII: Lowball, Wild Cards XXIII: High Stakes, and Wild Cards XXVI: Texas Hold ’Em. He has created the characters Bacho, DJ Tod, and Marcus Morgan, aka the Infamous Black Tongue, whose long tongue is the conduit for his powerful snake venom.

You can read his blog posts on WildCardsWorld.com at “Killing (Spoiler),” “On the Trials and Tribulations of Werewolves,” “Good Thing I Had Kids,” and “The Supporting Cast.”

If you’re a Wild Cards reader, you’re already a fan of David Anthony Durham. Read on for his bio, and be sure to check out this illuminating Q&A with Ti Mikkel

Early Writing


David Anthony Durham was born in New York City to parents of Caribbean ancestry. He grew up in Maryland, where he went to the University of Maryland, Baltimore, on a Creative Arts scholarship. During his time there, his short story “August Fury” won the 1990 Malcolm C. Braly Award for Fiction. Shortly after, another short story Durham wrote, “The Boy-Fish,” won the 1992 Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Fiction Award and was published in Catalyst. In 1994, he received a full scholarship to the MFA program at the University of Maryland, College Park; while there, he wrote his first two novels, Cicada and August Fury. Both are serious and realist, centering on contemporary issues within African American families. 

After graduating in 1996, Durham moved to the United Kingdom, where he published a few more short stories before moving again, this time to France, in 1999. There, he worked on Gabriel’s Story, a historical-fiction novel that follows black homesteaders and cowboys in the American West. Published by Doubleday in 2001, Gabriel’s Story was a New York Times Notable Book, a Los Angeles Times Best of 2001 pick, and a Booklist Editor’s Choice. It won the 2001 First Novel Award from the American Library Association’s Black Caucus, the 2002 Alex Award, and the 2002 Legacy Award in the Debut Fiction category.

In 2002, Durham also published an original story in Gumbo: A Celebration of African American Writing, which marked the debut of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards for Published Black Writers. All advances and royalties from the book went directly to the Hurston/Wright Foundation. Durham won one of those awards the following year, when he also taught an advanced novel workshop at the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation Writer’s Week.

After Gabriel’s Story, Durham wrote Walk Through Darkness, a Summer Reading Pick from the Washington Post, an Editor’s Choice for Summer Reading from the Wall Street Journal, a New York Times Notable Book, and one of the San Francisco Chronicle’s Best Books of 2002. He wrote another historical-fiction novel, Pride of Carthage, before venturing into fantasy and science fiction.

The Acacia Trilogy


Durham’s fourth novel, Acacia: The War with the Mein, was the first in the Acacia Trilogy, an epic fantasy series set in an alternate world. The land of Acacia is a powerful and seemingly peaceful empire whose ruler, Leodan Akaran, loves his four children dearly and does his best to keep from them Acacia’s hidden legacy of drug trafficking, slavery, and oppression. However, the Mein, a race exiled ages ago to the icy north, has other plans and sends an assassin to kill Leodan, while also unleashing surprise attacks across the empire. On his deathbed, Leodan puts into play a plan to allow his children to escape, each to their separate destiny. And so his children begin a quest to avenge their father’s death and restore the Acacian empire—this time on the basis of universal freedom.

In 2009, the year of the publication of the sequel to The War with the Mein, Acacia: The Other Lands, David Anthony Durham received the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. In 2012, he finished out the trilogy with Acacia: The Sacred Band. 

Durham returned to historical fiction for his seventh novel, The Risen, which focuses on the Spartacus slave rebellion against the Roman Republic. His next novel, The Shadow Prince, is a middle-grade fantasy novel set in ancient Egypt. It will be published by Tu Books in 2021. Several of his books are in development as feature films. 

Teachings on Writing


In addition to writing fiction, Durham has taught at many programs and universities, including Cal State University, where he was the 2003 Distinguished Visiting Writer before becoming an associate professor. He has also been the MacLean Distinguished Visiting Writer at Colorado College and has taught at Hampshire College, the University of Maryland, and the University of Massachusetts. He currently teaches popular fiction for the Stonecoast MFA program at the University of Southern Maine and for the University of Nevada, Reno.

Essays by David Anthony Durham

Good Thing I Had Kids
Killing (Spoiler)
On the Trials and Tribulations of Werewolves
Sound Advice (Not Followed)
The Supporting Cast

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