For #BlackHistoryMonth, we're taking a look at our favorite African-American female fiction authors -- Octavia Butler
For Black History month, we'd like to share some of our favorite African-American women fiction authors.
I'm embarrassed to say that a few years ago, I was completely unaware of how many African-American women have written successful fiction. They get such little attention. That we thought it might be nice to shine a light on the tremendous work done by African-American women fiction authors.
Second on our list is Octavia Butler. Of course, it's likely that she would not have liked being on this list as she called herself a "Writer" without any qualifier.
Ms. Butler was born and raised in a racially integrated neighborhood in Pasadena, California. She worked during the day and went to Pasadena City College at night. Like many people of her age and time, she got involved in politics and the Black Power Movement when she went to Pasadena City College.
She knew that she wanted to be a writer as early as 10 years old. At twelve, she re-wrote the story to the film, Devil Girl from Mars, which became the backbone of her Patternist series. She earned her first income as a writer at Pasadena City College by winning a college wide short story contest. This germ of an idea became Kindred.
Laser focused on what she wanted, she went to California State University, Los Angeles, but switched to taking writing courses through UCLA extension. Her desire to improve her craft led her to an Open Door Workshop led by the Screen Actors Guild where she was notices by Science Fiction author Harlan Ellison. She sold her first short story to be included in Mr. Ellison's compilation of stories.
Until her career took off, Ms. Butler worked temporary jobs to support herself. She got up at 3 am daily to write and went to work in the afternoons.
While many people call her a "science fiction" author, she did not prefer the term. She felt like it constricted her into talking about robots and stories like "Star Wars". In modern times, we would like call her a speculative fiction author.
Ms. Butler talks about transcending barriers in this interview.
After she'd received critical and financial success, she taught writing classes to give back to the writing community.
This novel follows Lauren Oya Olamina and her daughter Larkin Olamina/Asha Vere. Lauren has survived the collapse of the United States to create a religious community named "Acorn" in Northern California.
"The novel is set against the backdrop of a dystopian United States that has come under the grip of a Christian fundamentalist denomination called "Christian America" led by President Andrew Steele Jarret. Seeking to restore American power and prestige, Jarret embarks on a crusade to cleanse America of non-Christian faiths. Slavery has resurfaced with "shock collars" being used to control slaves. Virtual reality headsets known as "Dreamasks" are also popular since they enable wearers to escape their harsh reality."
Published in 1998, the book highlights the tears in American culture that bring about much of the current political landscape. The book is shockingly prophetic.