What Would Octavia Do?

Photo by Nikolas Coukouma

Octavia Butler Signing "Fledgling"; Photo by Nikolas Coukouma

My friends Chesya and Kay would probably agree with me about my next statement: When I’m stumped in my writing, I ask myself “WWOD?”… “What Would Octavia Do?” Octavia Butler‘s prodigious talent as an award-winning writer has been such an influence upon us.

Today would have been her birthday. She passed away three years ago and I was so sad to hear of it. Kay had loaned me some of her books around that time, and I just happened to come across them recently. This led to what I can only call an Octavia reading spree. From Imago (1989) to Mind of My Mind (1977) to Clay’s Ark (1984) to Patternmaster (1976), for a week I could not put them down. Back in 2003, I remember flying across the country to my wedding reading the harrowing dystopic Parable of the Sower (1993) and flying back from it reading Parable of the Talents (1998). I had read Kindred (1979) years before.

If you want to know who my biggest influence as a writer is, it was Ms. Butler. Her writing style–almost spare, yet masterful in her treatment of words and the unfolding of the story itself–is a joy for me to read. Visionary and futurist, the stories themselves are engrossing and thought-provoking. As a female African-American writing in the scifi/speculative fiction genre, she was a trailblazer and inspiration to me.

WWOD? Keep on writing.

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