Omar Epps’ new book, NUBIA: THE RECKONING, continues the saga of Zuberi, Uzochi and Lencho, the first of a new generation of Nubians to awaken to extraordinary powers. The Love & Basketball star shares how he jumped from film to the page.
“I'm a creative and had an idea to unearth this story,” he tells EBONY. “As it was coming together and I partnered with a publisher and writer Clarence A. Haynes, we realized that it was afrofuturistic sci-fi, and I let the story lead me to where it needed to go.”
Set in a futuristic climate-ravaged New York City, the three gifted teens we first met in NUBIA: THE AWAKENING fight against the sky king, Krazen St. John, who wants to harness their Nubian gifts for himself. He has assembled a superhuman militia to do his bidding, putting a ruthless Lencho, Uzochi’s cousin, in charge.
The father of three shares more about the novel and how he hopes his body of work impacts future generations.
EBONY: You've written a duology with NUBIA: THE AWAKENING and NUBIA: THE RECKONING.
Omar Epps: Yes! The backstory is that Nubia was destroyed, and its people fled to New York City. Skip forward a couple of generations and they've all lost their powers, or so they think. The parents never passed down their true heritage to their kids, but things are starting to happen, and there's no rhyme, reason or explanation.
In the first book, the kids start to figure out what and where their powers come from. The second is about what they do with these abilities and how they coexist with the non-Nubians who show fear towards them because of these powers.
Why did you choose New York City as the story's backdrop?
That's where I was born and raised. They can knock down a building and create a new one, and I still know that area like the back of my hand. New York is a powerful place, a microcosm of the American Dream. From the Puerto Rican, Dominican and Cuban cultures to Chinese, Japanese, Russian and Jewish ones, I got up close and personal with people, learning the humans behind the stories.
How did you decide to make your leading characters teenagers?
I had to tell it through their lens because, at that age when the mind is developing, it's super powerful. When I speak to my kids' friend groups, they look at life completely differently than I did when I was their age. The connectivity that technology has afforded them is very powerful. Kids can see one thing on the news, but then they go on social media, and it's someone's story boots to the ground. That's what they connect with. The potential of kids today is incredible.
What do you hope readers take away from the novels?
I want readers to walk away with a sense of unity. At the end of the day, we can have all the divisions and separations that we want. But if a big rock hits this planet, everybody's gonna be in the same boat; fighting to survive. And so I think for humanity to evolve for its betterment, we really need to have that as a part of our foundation regarding how we treat each other.
NUBIA: THE RECKONING is filled with intriguing characters of color, including positive Black male role models that can be hard to find in the genre.
I wanted to create something that I wish had existed when I was a kid because the power of imagery is immense. Seeing my first depiction of a happy, prospering Black family on screen was powerful because I realized that can happen for me. I know that everything I do as an artist will be here much longer than I will be physically, so I need to leave a breadcrumb trail of inspiration and motivation for the generations to come and hopefully spark that fire within them to ascend to their best selves.