A brief conversation with Octavia E. Butler
- Who is Octavia E. Butler? Where is she
headed? Where has she been?
Who am I? I'm a 56-year-old writer who can remember being a 10-year-old
writer and who expects someday to be an 80-year-old writer. I'm comfortably
asocial — a hermit living in a large city — a pessimist if I'm not careful;
a student, endlessly curious; a feminist; an African American; a former
Baptist; and an oil and water combination of ambition, laziness, insecurity,
certainty, and drive.
- What have you written?
Novels, short stories, and essays. I've had 11 novels published so far. They
are Patternmaster, Mind of my Mind, Survivor, Kindred,
Wild Seed, Clay's
Ark, Dawn, Adulthood Rites, Imago, Parable of the Sower and
Parable of the
Talents. Parable of the Talents won a Nebula award as 2000. I've also had
published a book of short fiction and nonfiction called Bloodchild and Other
Stories. One story in this collection, "Speech Sounds," won a Hugo award as
best short story of 1984. The title story, "Bloodchild," won both the 1985
Hugo and the 1984 Nebula awards as best novelette. And, speaking of awards,
in 1995 I received a MacArthur Fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T.
MacArthur Foundation. In 2000, I received a lifetime achievement award in
writing from PEN.
- What were your educational
preparations for a writing career?
I graduated from Pasadena City College in 1968 (Pasadena, California is my
home town). Then I attended California State University, Los Angeles. I also
took a few extension classes at UCLA. But the most valuable help I received
with my writing came from two workshops. The first was the Open Door Program
of the Screenwriter's Guild of America, West. I attended from 1969-1970. The
second was Clarion Science Fiction Writers' Workshop which I attended in
Octavia E. Butler is author of many novels, including Patternmaster,
Adulthood Rites, Mind of My Mind, and Parable of the Sower.
She is the winner of science fiction's Nebula and Hugo awards, as well as a
recipient of the MacArthur "Genius" award.
Read more about
Butler on the Pasadena City College website.
the Author's website.
Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her
twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from
her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white
son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him.
Dana is drawn back again and again for Rufus, yet each time the stay grows
longer and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana's life will
end, long before it has even begun.
(Source: Beacon Press Catalogue, via the