Table of Contents
Page 1. A BRIEF CONVERSATION WITH OCTAVIA E. BUTLER
Page 2 - 4. Biography
Page 5 - 9. Synopsis
Page 9 - 14. Analysis of Criticism
Page 14 15. Influences on Society
Page 16. Footnotes
Page 17. Bibliography
A BRIEF CONVERSATION WITH OCTAVIA E. BUTLER
1. Who is Octavia E. Butler? Where is she headed? Where has she been?
Who am I? I'm a 51-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 also comfortably asocial - a hermit living in a city-a pessimist, a student, endlessly curious; a feminist; and African-American; a former Baptist; and an oil-and-water combination of ambition, laziness, insecurity, certainty, and drive.
2. What have you written?
Novels, short stories, and essays. I've had 10 novels published so far. They are PATTERNMASTER, MIND OF MY MIND, SURVIVOR, KINDRED, WILD SEED, CLAY'S ARK, DAWN, ADULTHOOD RITES, IMAGO, and PARABLE OF THE SOWER. Doubleday published the first five originally. Warner has reprinted WILD SEED, MIND OFMYMIND, CLAY'S ARK, and PATTERNMASTER.
KINDRED has been reprinted by Beacon Press. DAWN, ADULTHOOD RITES, IMAGO, and PARABLE OF THE SOWER are available from Warner. Four Wails Eight Windows first published PARABLE. In 1995, Four Walls also published my short story collection, 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 the summer of 1995, I received a MacArthur Fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Her most recent book now is Lilith's Brood published in the year 2000.
3. What were your educational preparations for a writing career?
I graduated from Pasadena City College in 1968 (Pasadena, California is my hometown). 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' (1969-70). The second was Clarion Science Fiction Writers' Workshop (1970).
Octavia Estelle Butler was born June 22, 1947 in Pasadena, California. She was the only child of Octavia Margaret (Guy) Butler and Laurice Butler. Shortly after Butler was born, her father died leaving Butler's mother and grandmother to raise her. Octavia's mother used to read her bedtime stories until she was six years old. As soon as she got to like the stories, her mother said, "Here's the book. Now you read." She didn't know what she was setting her both up for. Just at the age of ten Octavia began to write short stories of fiction.
Octavia lived most of her life in Pasadena. All through Junior High and High School, even college, Butler was a very shy person. She would not get up in front of class to do anything, her teacher's thought this was because she didn't do the work and was unprepared. One time, she even went as far as to record her presentation on a tape and turn that in instead. During her years in school, there were three teachers who made a critical difference in Butler's development. The first was Butler's home economics teacher in seventh grade, Miss Peters. Peters took the time to read
Butler's stories and offer encouragement. The second teacher was Mr. Pfaff, an eighth grade science teacher who typed her first story, "typed it the way it was supposed to be, with no holes erased into the paper. He even corrected my terrible spelling and punctuation. The third teacher was Butler's first Black teacher. Miss Buggs taught ninth grade English, social studies, and drama. Butler remembers her as the only teacher who truly understood how much presenting material orally terrified the young student. She graduated John Muir High School in 1965. She...
Bibliography: Beal, Frances M. "Black Women and the Science Fiction Genre: Interview with Octavia Butler." Black Scholar. 1986 Mar.-Apr., 17:2. 14-18.
Butler, Octavia E. "Bloodchild." Bloodchild and Other Stories. New York: Seven Stories Press, 1996. 1-32.
Octavia Butler 's Xenogenesis Trilogy: A Biologist 's Response
by Joan Slonczewski, presented at SFRA, Cleveland, June 30, 2000
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