Nnedi Okorafor is an international award-winning novelist of African-based science fiction, fantasy and magical realism for both children and adults. She’s most recognized for weaving African culture into creative evocative settings and memorable characters. Some of the titles she has authored are Who Fears Death, the Akata series, the Binti novella trilogy, Zahrah the Windseeker, and many more. Her novel Who Fears Death has been optioned by HBO and is in early development as a TV series with George RR Martin from the Game of Thrones series as executive producer. As if all these accolades and achievements weren’t enough, Nnedi is also currently writing a Black Panther series for Marvel.
In describing Nnedi and her work, The New York Times wrote, “Nnedi Okorafor has made a name for herself with novels that combine politically complex science fiction and lyrical fantasy.“
In this episode, Nnedi walks us through her research process for the “Akata” series, and she also shares what her writing process was like for the books. We discuss the power of listening and how it helps you with your writing, how to find an ideal editor for your story, and why she encourages writers to have a messy first draft. We also touch on her thoughts about expanding one’s worldview, and how science fiction helps authors craft stories about cultures and politics. Nnedi also shares helpful advice on managing a storytelling career and motherhood.
I’ve been so excited to wrap up 2017 with Nnedi’s episode, happy listening!
Books & Resources Mentioned in Nnedi’s Episode:
Moonlight directed and written by Barry Jenkins
13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff VanderMeer and Illustrated by Jeremy Zerfoss
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
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“Science fiction is one of the most effective forms of political writing and it’s because it takes from science and it also takes from the art of storytelling.”
“Even if you only have time to write a paragraph a day, write a paragraph a day.”
“If you are going to write from those points of view that are not natural to you, that are outside of yourself, sitting back and listening is one of the best ways to grab it.”
What You’ll Learn From This Episode:
- Nnedi walks us through her research process for the “Akata” series
- The power of listening and how it helps you with your writing
- How science fiction helps authors craft stories about cultures and politics
- A look into Nnedi’s writing process
- Advice on managing a storytelling career and motherhood
- Thoughts on expanding one’s worldview
- Why Nnedi encourages a messy first draft
- How to find an ideal editor for your story
About “Akata Warrior”
A year ago, Sunny Nwazue, an American-born girl Nigerian girl, was inducted into the secret Leopard Society. As she began to develop her magical powers, Sunny learned that she had been chosen to lead a dangerous mission to avert an apocalypse, brought about by the terrifying masquerade, Ekwensu. Now, stronger, feistier, and a bit older, Sunny is studying with her mentor Sugar Cream and struggling to unlock the secrets in her strange Nsibidi book.
Eventually, Sunny knows she must confront her destiny. With the support of her Leopard Society friends, Orlu, Chichi, and Sasha, and of her spirit face, Anyanwu, she will travel through worlds both visible and invisible to the mysteries town of Osisi, where she will fight a climactic battle to save humanity.
Much-honored Nnedi Okorafor, winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards, merges today’s Nigeria with a unique world she creates. Akata Warrior blends mythology, fantasy, history and magic into a compelling tale that will keep readers spellbound.
Learn More About Nnedi Okorafor
Nnedi Okorafor is an international award-winning novelist of African-based science fiction, fantasy and magical realism for both children and adults. Born in the United States to two Nigerian immigrant parents, Nnedi is known for weaving African culture into creative evocative settings and memorable characters. In a profile of Nnedi’s work titled, “Weapons of Mass Creation”, The New York Times called Nnedi’s imagination “stunning”.
Nnedi’s books include Lagoon (a British Science Fiction Association Award finalist for Best Novel), Who Fears Death (a World Fantasy Award winner for Best Novel), Kabu Kabu (A Publisher’s Weekly Best Book for Fall 2013), Akata Witch (an Amazon.com Best Book of the Year), Zahrah the Windseeker (winner of the Wole Soyinka Prize for African Literature), and The Shadow Speaker (a CBS Parallax Award winner).
Her latest works include her novel The Book of Phoenix (an Arthur C. Clarke Award finalist), her Binti Trilogy ( the first of which won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards for Best Novella) and her children’s book Chicken in the Kitchen (winner of an Africana Book Award). The final installment of the Binti Trilogy (titled The Night Masquerade) will be released in September and the sequel to Akata Witch (title Akata Warrior) is due out in October. Nnedi is a Full Professor at the University at Buffalo, New York (SUNY).