James, however, says his next work will not be aimed at them, but will be a high fantasy tale aimed at 12-year-olds. The book, Black Leopard, Red Wolf, will be the first of the forthcoming The Dark Star Trilogy.
A lifelong fan of fantasy literature like The Hobbit and The Earthsea Trilogy, James found it increasingly frustrating that they, as well as more modern epics like The Wheel of Time and Game of Thrones, draw their inspiration from Judeo-Christian and European folklore.
African mythology was just as rich, he felt, and he decided to use it to build the world of his fantasy franchise. On top of that framework, he piled his other interests and obsessions: the unreliable narrators of Rashomon; classic African epics like The Epic of Son-Jara; Marvel’s Luke Cage; Vertigo’s Fable; the real maravilloso of Gabriel García Marquez and the artwork and writings of Salvador Dalí.
All of these disparate influences combine in the tale of three mercenaries, the only survivors of a nine-year mission to find a mysterious child who has been kidnapped. Imprisoned for the murders of the rest of their search party and of the child they had been hired to recuse, each of the three mercenaries tells their tale over the course of the trilogy. And, according to James, each begins his or her narrative with the words, “Everything you read before is not true.”
As you read this, James is hard at work at finishing up the first novel in the cycle. He and his publishers at Riverhead hope to have the book in stores by the fall of 2018.