Author Spotlight: Octavia E. Butler

Hey friends, happy Saturday! It’s a chilly day down here in Dallas, but the snow is FINALLY melting and yesterday we got over freezing! Hooray! The white stuff was fun for a couple days, but I was ready for it to go away on Tuesday. Thankfully we never lost power, though we did lose internet (hard to work from home without it!) and we still don’t have running water. All things considered, though, we have been incredibly lucky. If you want to help out, the Genesis Women’s Shelter had a burst pipe and the damage was bad. You can help them here.

This week, we have our bimonthly Author Spotlight, and this installment is special to me personally, as this author made me actually like science fiction.

Octavia Butler grew up in Pasadena, California. She was a very shy child, and she was also dyslexic, both of which made her a target for bullies. Because of this, she would spend most of her time in her local library, reading stories and starting to write her own in a notebook. When she was 10, she asked for a typewriter so she could type her stories instead. She won her first writing contest in her freshman year at Pasadena City College, and upon graduation took temporary jobs that would allow her to wake up at two or three in the morning and get writing done.

The only book I’ve read by Butler is Kindred, but I plan to rectify that this year. Kindred was the book that helped me realize science fiction wasn’t only space and mad scientists. Her inspiration for this novel came at PCC when a classmate associated with the Black Power movement loudly criticized previous Black generations of subservience to white people. Butler wrote Kindred to give the “subservience” context–it wasn’t complacency, but survival.

She went on to write many other works, and I’ll try and get some read this year. Butler was a multiple Hugo and Nebula award winner (which are two huge literary awards, if you aren’t familiar). She was also inducted into Chicago State University’s International Black Writer’s Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, she died in 2006 at the age of 58–entirely too young. She left a huge mark on this world and left us fantastic literature with important messages.

You can find a complete list of her works at her official website, Octavia E. Butler (octaviabutler.com)

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