Now, I offer a long intro en route to the point...
As a black kid who grew up in that lap of all that is black and soul-identified -- Memphis, TN, I left as a Jethro Tull loving folkie it is only fitting that I'd remain at the margins with a list of Eurocentric literary favs that include classics such as Stendahl's The Red and the Black, Thackery's Vanity Fair and anything penned by a Bronte sister. Epic and dramatic, and I'm enthralled; see Mario Puzo's The Godfather: Parts I (1972) and II (1974) but NOT III (1990) which was pretty much ruined by the director replacing Winona Ryder with his daughter Sofia Coppola. (And, who knew she'd blossom into a decent director.)
I also loved the Arthurian tales as captured by TH White's The Once and Future King and Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon. Yep, just another little brown girl with a classical education; I didn't resist what I was fed even as I now flirt with the margins. So while I love mythology having a child makes me more fond of fractured tales and re-tellings such as Eve Merriam's Inner City Mother Goose.
I think I may have attempted The Hobbit when younger I never cozied up to LOTR although Peter Jackson's films have a similar place in my heart as the books I've mention.
To further elaborate the odd outsider theme... I am a child of the sixties who today is a reformed pessimist with a soft spot for dystopias and disquieting utopian visions -- the ususual suspects: Brave New World, Farenheit 451, Solyent Green, and Gattaca; also add Marge Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time and Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game. (And, I still wonder how I got here from back there...a midnight train from my reality (?).) But, I digress.
Somewhere along the path, I discovered Samuel Delany, still in his SF days; I still love the sound of the first one I read Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand. And much later found Octavia Butler's Xenogenesis trilogy which led me to her Patternists series.
But I was a reluctant late arrival to the Harry Potter band wagon; I enjoyed the series despite their unevenness always reading the book before seeing the film. I think it was book #6 that I mused about what would it take for a fiction book to have that level of appeal to urban youths with whom I work and see where I live.
Of course, JK Rowling's books already appeal to those kids who do read big long books yet I wondered about what might populate a story with a broad appeal AND have the vibrancy of actual flavors that feel their eyes and ears daily. Few names came to mind; ok, one -- Nalo Hopkinson who I still haven't managed to read but know I should. If I push my brain, I think of a few others I might imagine taking that plunge: Neil Gaiman, China Mielville, Pat Cadigan, Harryette Mullen, Colson Whitehead (ne Arch Colson Chipp Whitehead), Don Byron, directors Julie Dash or Kasi Lemmons.
And finally, we arrive at the point...
The simple truth is the epic tales I love on screen or in print never have faces with complexions close to mine or the kids with whom I've worked. So I was delighted to learn about Troy CLE who has laid out plans for The Marvelous World series which has its own website and has been described as the "black Harry Potter". And, if we're to believe the hype The Marvelous Effect combines elements of fantasy, science fiction, hip-hop, video gaming, NASCAR and anime.
NOTE: Episode #327 of PBS's NOW is where I saw the author in early July when I began the original draft for this post.