News

March 7, 2022

My new book The Peacemaker Overcomes the Hatemaker will be released on March 15 as an original trade paperback for $9 and on Kindle for $3.

I hope all of you will support this book because I will be donating half the sales to the Southern Poverty Law Center and their dedicated work in fighting hate across our country.

To see the cover and read the official description of The Peacemaker Overcomes the Hatemaker, it is listed with my other books here on my website.

Roger  🙂

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April 23, 2020

I am overjoyed to have received an endorsement of my new novel Prayers from the Far Quarter from author and journalist Carla Power. She is a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist for her remarkable memoir If the Oceans Were Ink about her yearlong study of Islam with renowned scholar Sheikh Mohammad Akram Nadwi.

Ms. Power’s endorsement is in addition to the praise Dr. Craig Considine offered my novel earlier this month on Goodreads (I shared the link on April 3). Dr. Considine is a professor at Rice University. He is also a global speaker, media contributor, and an author of many books and articles on the Prophet Muhammad and Christian-Muslim relations. His new book The Humanity of Muhammad: A Christian View will be released this year.

Ms. Power and Dr. Considine are amazingly kind and generous, and my appreciation is limitless in thanking them for their support of Prayers from the Far Quarter, which recognizes the sacrifices and contributions of Muslims throughout American history.

Here’s the link on Goodreads where Ms. Power posted her review:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3297345633

Roger  🙂

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April 3, 2020

I will be forever thankful to Dr. Craig Considine for his endorsement of Prayers from the Far Quarter, my novel honoring the sacrifices and contributions of Muslims throughout American history. Dr. Considine is a scholar, global speaker, professor at Rice University, media contributor, and an author of many books and articles on Prophet Muhammad and Christian-Muslim relations. Google his name, visit his website, and follow him on social media. He is an amazing human being, and my appreciation is limitless in thanking him for his support of my book.

Here’s the link to Goodreads where Dr. Considine posted his review:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3259326914

Roger  🙂

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April 1, 2020

As we continue to maintain social distancing to fight COVID-19, books can be our constant companion. Prayers from the Far Quarter, my new novel, was a four-year endeavor that fulfilled my lifetime dream to write a story from the Civil War era.

Four years ago, I found the voice of Isa Muhammad Rahman who is the narrator of the novel. He’s an African Muslim who becomes enslaved, but eventually leads the cause of emancipation and serves in the Union army.

Isa’s story honors the sacrifices and contributions of Muslims throughout American history, and through all his struggles, Isa relies on the guidance of Islam to strengthen his humanity as he shares his faith’s message of accepting people of all races.

Anyone who knows Islam understands it is a religion of peace, of compassion, and of the inclusion and acceptance of everyone. If you take the journey in my new novel with Isa, hopefully you will open your heart and mind to the true teachings of Islam.

Roger  🙂

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March 17, 2020

Prayers from the Far Quarter, my new novel, is now available in paperback and on Kindle at Amazon.

It should be available from all book retailers within a week.

Thanks so much for all the support.

Roger  🙂

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March 1, 2020

Mark your calendars for March 17. Yes, that is St. Patrick’s Day, but it is also the release date of my new novel, Prayers from the Far Quarter.

Many thanks to everyone who has liked my posts on my social media and followed my journey with this book over the last four years. But this is just the beginning. I will have much, much, much more to share with all of you in the days, weeks, and months ahead.

This project has been a life-changing experience for me and also the fulfillment of a dream to write the book I’ve always wanted to write and now I’ve achieved it. I hope everyone who reads it will have their hearts and minds opened as much as mine became opened to the power of peace and compassion.

Here’s the “book jacket” description:

Prayers from the Far Quarter is Roger DeBlanck’s most memorable and essential novel to date. Its historical breadth and sweep traverse three continents to chronicle the extraordinary life of Isa Muhammad Rahman, an African Muslim.

Isa’s unforgettable voice and distinct prose style narrate his journey that begins in 1850 from the Bornu kingdom of sub-Saharan Africa. From his capture in his homeland, to his sojourn in Victorian England, to his enslavement on a cotton plantation in the antebellum South, to his work with the American Anti-Slavery Society in the North, and finally through his sacrifices as a Union soldier, Isa relies on the guidance of Islam to strengthen his humanity as he struggles for survival and freedom.

During his efforts to gain inclusion for himself and his family as American citizens, Isa’s journey affords him remarkable opportunities to share Islam’s message of accepting people of all races and faiths. His quest for equality and a just society leads his life on a path where he meets and works alongside figures as majestic and revered as Charles Dickens, Queen Victoria, William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Tubman.

In its totality Prayers from the Far Quarter honors the sacrifices and contributions of Muslims throughout American history, and through the voice of Isa Muhammad Rahman the novel resonates with the great peace and compassion at the heart of Islam.

Roger  🙂

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June 3, 2019

Over twenty years ago I read Toni Morrison’s Beloved for the first time. Since then I’ve reread the novel at least ten times, and the power of its story continues to haunt me with the aftermath of America’s greatest tragedy: the institution of slavery. I have always wanted to write something where I brought an untold story to life, but not until February of 2017 did the right voice begin speaking to me. What started twenty-seven months ago is now a completed manuscript titled Prayers from the Far Quarter about an enslaved African Muslim.  The last four months have been obsessive editing and revision to polish up the work. Now it’s ready for the next stage of querying.

Roger 🙂

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March 19, 2019

Prayers from the Far Quarter is the title of my next novel about an enslaved African Muslim. His voice narrates the story and what a life-changing honor it has been for me to follow his journey. I have now begun to immerse myself in the editing stage, and I plan to take as long as necessary until every detail is right. Then I will begin querying.

If anyone has been perusing my social media posts over the last two years, you may recall the novel characterizes a handful of historical figures throughout the main character’s journey. These include Charles Dickens, Queen Victoria, William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Tubman. I had foreseen at one point perhaps the main character may meet Lincoln or Grant, but it never happened. Regardless, the main character’s journey is a loose composite of many real-life enslaved Muslim and what emerged was his own distinctive voice, sharing the peace and humanity at the heart of Islam. His extraordinary story honors the sacrifices and diversity that make America great.

Islam is not a refutation of Judaism and Christianity; it is a confirmation of the Torah and the Gospels. Whatever you believe in, Islam respects your faith. The Prophet Muhammad recited to the world God’s final message of peace, compassion, tolerance, acceptance, and generosity. He taught how everyone had the right to live and believe the way they wanted as long as they lived with civility and allowed others to live and worship as they chose. The Prophet shared God’s word with humankind in hopes we may embrace God fully, and it could behoove us all to listen and open our hearts and minds. If we do, maybe we can learn how to love God and Jesus more and all the Old and New Testament prophets more because Islam reveres them all.

Roger  🙂

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March 8, 2019

After nearly two years of work on my next novel about an enslaved African Muslim, I’m determined to finish the story this weekend. At that point, I’ll share the title and then begin the next stage of editing and revision and eventually sending out queries.

Roger  🙂

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February 25, 2019

Now at 110,000 words in my next novel about an enslaved African Muslim, I estimate about 10,000 left to complete his story.

Roger  🙂

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February 18, 2019

Since my last update three weeks ago, Frederick Douglass has become an instrumental presence in the life of my main character who is an enslaved African Muslim. At this point in his narrative, he is a freedman and has enlisted in the famous regiment of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry. Blacks were barred from service until Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, and the sacrifices of Black soldiers helped end the war faster. As my novel reaches its last stretch, excitement often meets exhaustion and anxiety as I hope to complete this journey in the next three weeks. All I can do is stay true to my mantra that hard work and positive belief will lead to good fortune and a readership someday.

Roger  🙂

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January 28, 2019

The manuscript is now at over 93,000 words. The narrator of this novel is an enslaved African Muslim, now a freedman at this point in the story. Nearly two years of work on this project has me seeing the end. With another strong month in February, I believe this journey will be complete. At that time I will share the title of the novel, which I wondered would it change over the course of this story, but it has stayed intact like the incredible humanity, strength, and faith of my Muslim character. This has been a life-changing journey for me, and at times I have been overcome with emotion as my admiration for Islam has helped me reinvigorate my faith in God. Both the Prophet Muhammad and Jesus have a place in my heart. I hope to find a publisher for this story because it sure feels like the voice of this character needs to be heard. As I finish the final stage of the Civil War, I’ll remain immersed in the era by reading the peerless Ron Chernow’s new bio on Grant.

Roger  🙂

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January 16, 2019

A rare day off in the middle of the week means a full day of writing. Already surpassed the 10,000 word mark for the month. The manuscript is now at 85,000 as the countdown to the Civil War nears for my main character, an enslaved African Muslim.

Roger  🙂

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December 31, 2018

Everyone, have a safe and great New Year. I want to thank you all for your support in liking my posts on my social media while I have charted my progress on my next novel. 75,464. That is where the word count is going to be as I finish up work tonight and prepare to resume early tomorrow morning in the new year. My estimate is about 35,000 words from finishing this epic journey of an enslaved African Muslim. The narrative is heading into the third and final part of the story covering the main character’s involvement in the Civil War. My reading right now is the newest bio on Frederick Douglass. He figures to make an appearance in part three. I’ll keep you updated.

Roger  🙂

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December 17, 2018

I’ve been rocking the word count the last few weeks on my next novel about an enslaved African Muslim. Another day of hard work helped me surpass 8,000 words so far this month (68,000 total), well ahead of my regular pace of about 10,000. I’m hopeful to reach 75,000 by year’s end. That will put me about two months from finishing this journey.

Roger  🙂

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November 26, 2018

Surpassed the 60,000 word mark this weekend on my next novel about an enslaved African Muslim. With the story revealing itself more each week, I estimate about 45,000-55,000 words to go to reach the end of this journey advancing fast towards the inevitability of the Civil War.

Roger  🙂

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November 4, 2018

Having today surpassed the 50,000 word mark of my next novel about an enslaved African Muslim, I gauge this epic journey has reached its midpoint. At this juncture the story is thoroughly embedded on a cotton plantation in the Deep South, and I could never have foreseen the upcoming struggles until the first-person voice of the main character guided the narrative in its current direction as it heads towards the Civil War. While I write, I’ve tried to keep my daily reading immersed in literature about the subject matter and time period. In the upcoming weeks, I’m rereading my most cherished novel Beloved. Morrison’s story of Sethe is the main reason I’ve always wanted to write about the haunting impact of American slavery. The other selection is Team of Rivals from the peerless Doris Kearns Goodwin. As I see it, Lincoln looks as though he will have a cameo in my novel, so Goodwin’s work is essential to reread for inspiration.

Roger  🙂

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November 3, 2018

Nineteen months ago I embarked on the journey of my next novel about an enslaved African Muslim. The first fourteen months I spent mostly researching and immersing myself in the subject matter and time period of Islam in Africa, African Muslims, the African slave trade, American slavery, the Civil War, and of course the Islamic faith and what it means to be a Muslim. In June of this year I began drafting the narrative told in the first person voice of the main character, and yesterday I surpassed the 50,000 work mark, which at this juncture in the narrator’s epic journey feels as though the story has reached its midpoint.

My writing and drafting process is not to throw words feverishly onto a page and go over them with enough effort to achieve a reasonable quality so I can quickly move forward. I am a deliberate and methodical writer who contemplates and obsesses as I envision the direction of the plot or more precisely the struggles the main character is guiding me through with his own voice. And so I write and rewrite, write and rewrite, and stop completely when something is not working. Not until the chapter or section or scene feels solid and polished enough do I feel as though I can move ahead with certainty that what I’ve had time to contemplate is the true destination the narrative is heading.

After 50,000 words, the pace of this novel is running about 10,000 per month, which is registering in at a slower pace to complete the “first draft” of this project compared to my other novels. What I have learned from my books is that each of them is like a different child. They behave differently, make different demands, and require me to care for and nurture them in their own unique way. In short, they are beautiful and fascinating and frustrating and exhausting, but I would not want it any other way because I do not have a choice. These works have demanded me to write them.

I’m discovering with this current novel that I need anywhere from 6-12 drafts of each chapter before moving on. This is not to say that I am trying to shortcut any part of the process by doing more rewrites and polishing ahead of the next draft. In fact, as with each project, I am detecting those instances where I know I will have to go back in forthcoming drafts to fix, change, tighten, and polish certain sections and details. I keep a list of the tinkering needed, but overall I am feeling this novel is the strongest work I’ve ever undertaken. This is partly because when you commit yourself to a strong work ethic and you keep focused on the vision of the story, you tend to improve with each effort and challenge yourself more with each project.

This current novel is by far both the hardest and the most enlightening one I’ve ever attempted. As this story develops, the beauty and humanity of Islam is emerging exactly as I knew it would because Islam is such a beautiful and humanistic faith. The language of this first person narration feels as magical and lyrical as anything I’ve ever done, and I owe my love of poetry in my teens and during my early writing days for helping me see history and the world of the past with its every wondrous detail. No matter how hard I work, however, I have doubts. In fact, every book I’ve written has started with doubt and not believing I can do it until I start researching and giving my soul over to hard work which brings about the muse.

What pushes me, keeps me going, and inspires me is reading. Whenever I’m feeling tired, I head to my bookshelf and seek out my heroes: Toni Morrison, Cormac McCarthy, Michael Ondaatje, Albert Camus, Jorge Luis Borges, and the list goes on. At this moment in the story, I’m back to Morrison’s Beloved and Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals. Another mainstay in my reading is going back to the Qur’an and to Reza Aslan’s No god but God.

After a day of feeling exhausted with the demands of this current novel, I’m now refreshed and reinvigorated to head back to the narrative. Reading Morrison should give me the inspiration to do some good work with the hours left in the day.

Roger  🙂

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June 3, 2018

This week began the next stage in the process of what will be my next novel about an enslaved African Muslim. With my initial research and organizing of notes now completed, I’m moving into the discovery, plotting, and drafting stage. Because I’ve been so immersed over the past sixteen months in Islam, enslaved Muslims, the African slave trade, the antebellum era, American slavery in the South, and the Civil War, my mind has been developing the life of this character to the point where his journey is already real. Whether it will now take months or years to tell his story, I do not know. Time is all I need.

I had always hoped one of my previous books would take off and give me more time to work on this current project, which has lived with me going on twenty-five years. Now it’s real and I realize all my past work (each book so very dear to my heart) has been in preparation for this current undertaking. I am excited and nervous and full of doubts about whether I can write this next novel, but mostly what I know for certain is that the only way forward is hard work, discipline, commitment, dedication, and staying true to the vision of this slave’s journey and the truth of history. So I must begin.

For now I’m going to reserve sharing too much about the main character, but he has a name, an identity, a purpose, and a story unlike any other. I also have a title for this novel that I believe will stay with the project through its completion. But I want as well to reserve disclosing it at this stage. It feels like the perfect title at the outset. However, as with any project of this magnitude and duration, along the way ideas change and develop and reveal themselves. I am the mere conduit through which all the energy flows. So I begin.

Roger  🙂

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Feb. 25, 2018

It’s been nearly a year since my last blog post. In that time, a lot of progress has been made on the journey of what will become my next novel. As I mentioned in my last post from April 7, 2017, this new project will focus on the antebellum and Civil War era and most specifically on enslaved African Muslims. Historians estimate about 15-20 percent of those enslaved in America devoutly practiced Islam, even against all the direct and indirect forces that tried to make them abandon their faith. West Africa and its great civilizations and kingdoms—where many of the African Muslims were originally captured during the slave trade—were greatly influenced by the Qur’an and Islamic teachings. Learning and education were valued greatly in these African kingdoms, so Muslim slaves were often highly literate and extremely intelligent.

Over the course of the last year, I owe tremendous gratitude to dozens of writers and books for shaping my understanding and vision for this next novel. With most of the grassroots research completed, my task over the past two months has been typing up, organizing, studying, and reviewing the hundreds of pages of notes and ideas I’ve accumulated. Not only has my research immersed me in the Civil War era, plantation life, the slave trade, and the unspeakable crimes of the institution of American slavery, my focus has also been overwhelmingly drawn to the beauty and intellect of Islam. During this last year, I reread the Koran for the first time since 9/11. As I experienced it then, I again found the Qur’an full of its inspiring message of love, compassion, and generosity. The entire purpose of Islam is a profound commitment to God—the only One from whom we came and to whom we shall return. Submission to God’s love through prayer, kindness, mercy, and unwavering charity make up the foundation of what it means to be a Muslim.

Anyone who claims Islam endorses violence is wrong. Nowhere in the Qur’an or in the Prophet Muhammad’s life is violence condoned against innocent people. In self-defense, one may protect one’s self, but that is only if you’re denied by another the right to worship God in your own way and follow the path of righteousness as set out so beautifully by the Prophet. Otherwise, peace is the answer and all should be forgiven. The word of God should be offered, but it can never be forced upon anyone because Islam prohibits any compulsion of religion. Muslims revere each of the Old and New Testament prophets as divine vessels of God’s love. It was Muhammad who God entrusted to deliver His final message to humankind through the words set forth in the beauty of the Qur’an. And so the Qur’an says to pray for peace and grace, give to the underprivileged and less fortunate, and show mercy to everyone, including one’s adversaries and especially to anyone who may believe differently from you. That is the life the Prophet lived and the message he shared.

Moreover, no religion throughout its history has valued women more than Islam. (For more information read Reza Aslan’s No god but God or Carla Power’s If the Oceans Were Ink.) Muhammad’s original Muslim community, the Ummah, made women instrumental in leadership and learning. The same happened in the West African kingdoms where Islam made its influence beginning in the 11th century. Women were scholars who played a central part in teaching and learning. My next novel will celebrate the beauty and wisdom of Islam through enslaved African Muslims, but their story will be much more. It will confront slavery’s crimes, it will encompass the Civil War, and it will have a Muslim as the protagonist showing humanity the path to a better life. At this point, all I know is that each day this project lives in my heart. Every day I make a little more progress, and that is the commitment to the journey. I’m hopeful to begin drafting soon.

Roger  🙂

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Aug. 31, 2017

Brody  —  Aug. 11, 2005 – Aug. 26, 2017

This past weekend my wife Alley and I lost our beloved dog Brody. He was too tired and couldn’t go on any longer. Alley composed a beautiful post celebrating Brody’s life on Facebook, and many thanks to everyone for your kindness in thinking of him. The sorrow and grief are almost unbearable, but Brody wouldn’t want us crying. He was a friend to everyone, his tail always wagging rapidly in curlicues to meet people. He wanted to nuzzle his head against the legs of everyone. His adorable whimpers begged for a hug. He made us all smile and laugh. He was so brave in the end, and although the heartbreak is difficult for Alley and me, we know Brody is finally at peace after a long year of suffering. He loved his little sister Sophy so much, and she will forever be a link to Brody’s remarkable life.

Roger  🙂

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July 24, 2017

I’m about three-fourths through my initial research with a stack of books to go before shifting my focus to the organizing, outlining, and eventual drafting of my next novel. I have a working title and some character names, but it’s all in the beginning stage of this long, arduous journey, so there’s no rush to disclose too many details this early. However, the largely marginalized history of enslaved African Muslim during the antebellum and Civil War era is where this novel will have its voice.

Roger  🙂

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April 7, 2017

Last year after finishing The Destruction of Silence, I wondered whether I’d ever have another book in me. “How can I ever push myself more than I did with that novel?” This question had been haunting me for months. The emotional drain of completing The Destruction of Silence hit me hard. I was separated from the characters of Thomas and Great Star for the first time in three years, and it hurt to the point where I broke down and wept. I started to think I could never again experience anything with that type of intensity. I realized, however, my emotions were similar to the way I’d felt after finishing my other books.

But something was different with finishing The Destruction of Silence. The pain and redemption of that story made me nervous about ever wanting to commit to another work if the new work was unable to produce the same emotional impact. Seven months after the book was released, I had no new project on the horizon. With the completion of my other books, I found myself immersed in a new idea within a few months. But not until last week did the idea for my next novel come to me. It now feels as powerful as anything I’ve ever considered writing about. The root of this new story is now firmly planted in my heart, and it’s beginning to course through my blood, and so I have no choice but to undertake this next journey. What’s most interesting is that this new idea has been stored in my head for over twenty years. But only in the last week have I been able to see it clearly after all these years.

This next novel will take place in the antebellum south and will cover American slavery and the Civil War years and its aftermath. More specifically, it will deal with enslaved African Muslims and the presence of Islam in America during the Civil War era. That’s all I know right now, but I will be charting my progress with all of you over the next two, three, four, or however many years it takes to tell this story. I realize I’m on the verge of the most challenging endeavor I’ve ever undertaken, and thoughts of fear and doubt are swirling, but mostly I’m driven by the need to relive the past and tell this story. The decision is not mine. The story must be told. I can hear the great Irish poet Seamus Heaney echoing to me, “Get started, keep going, and get started again.” So I’m on my way.

Roger  🙂

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