I went to see Octavia Butler, the bestsetlling Black science fiction author, 'read' at Marcus Bookstore in Oakland on Friday night. What a treat. She's promoting her new book--her first novel since Parable of the Talents was released several years ago--which is entitled "Fledgling", and is about a Black vampire.
I write 'read' in quotes because she didn't actually read from her work, but instead talked for about fifteen minutes about her writing process for the novel, which initiated from a severe case of writer's block. It's always refreshing to hear accomplished, even famous professional writers talk about their struggles with their craft. It makes me realize they are human, too, and that they struggle with the same issues of discipline, practice, craft, etc. that I and my other aspiring writer-comrades struggle with.
It was a very inspiring place to be, because I ran into tons of folks from my activist/organizing world. I hung out with E. there, a fellow VONA alum, who told me about the event in the first place. And I saw Patty and Jinky, whom I've met before once or twice, as well as Daisy Hernandez, who edits Colorlines magazine. There are so many activists who read Octavia Butler, who draw strength and validation from her work. She 'predicted' a catastrophic flood in New Orleans in one of her books--although she herself decried it as a 'prediction' at the reading: "Anyone who was paying attention could have 'predicted' that" she observed--and in the 'Parable' series she gave us an apocalyptic vision of California in the mid-21st century, complete with global warming-induced migration north to escape the sweltering heat of Southern California, roaming gangs of slaving thugs forcing orphaned girls into prostitution, and a hopeful dreamer-protagonist who leads a band of ordinary people to form a new community and religion called Earthseed.
I bought Wild Seed, Kindred and Fledgling at the reading, and got them signed by the Woman herself. It's only at author readings that I get googly-eyed and celebrity/star-struck--what a nerd! Kanye West is the only other celebrity who might've been able to grab my attention on Friday night once Ms. Butler got on the mic.
Go out and get yo'self from Octavia Butler. It's good, toothsome stuff.