On Thursday May 2, I attended An Evening with Nnedi Okorafor held at The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County…
First off, I’d like to share a few pictures of the venue, The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. Since I only live about an hour away from Cincinnati, I’ve visited many time for various events, however I had never been to the library.
Out front the library has a gorgeous bookish water feature!
The library has its own polar bear? I must admit, I was not expecting to see a stuffed polar bear in the library. Anyone know the story behind this polar bear? I should have asked an employee, but they were all busy with the event…
As per usual I’ll be sharing what I learned at this event in bullet point format. Enjoy!
- Nnedi has her master’s degree in journalism and her Ph.D in English.
- She writes African based science fiction & fantasy.
- Her book, Who Fears Death, is being made into a TV series.
- She just finished issue #10 of the Shuri comic series the night before this event.
- She is currently working on a secret novel and a secret novella.
- She has a memoir coming out in June 2019.
- Nnedi did a reading from Binti, her first novella. She could have totally been the narrator for her own books. I told her this when I met her and she thought I was crazy.
- Nnedi is NOT a plotter. She let’s the story lead her. She is often very surprised where her stories go.
- She draws her inspiration from everything.
On her Binti series…
- Binti won a Nebula & a Hugo Award.
- Nnedi was first inspired to write Binti after visiting the United Arab Emirates.
- She drew inspiration for her world from the blending of the ancient & modern in the UAE.
- She came up with the name “Binti” after hearing teachers refer to their female students as “Bint,” which means “girl” in the UAE. *Side note: Binti’s name was originally Bint, however the term “Bint” is an offensive slang term in the UK, so Nnedi changed it to Binti.
- She has always been fascinated with the Himba, an indigenous tribe. She then thought to herself “What if we have a group of Himba people set in the future?”
- When she wrote Binti, she did not set out to write a novella. In fact, she didn’t think about length at all.
- She decided to set parts of Binti in space because she’s terrified of space. As a writer, she feels compelled to write about her fears and dislikes.
- A big theme in the Binti series is immigration. Nnedi wanted to explore the concept of immigrants bringing their culture with them.
On her comics…
- In 2012, Nnedi wrote for a short anthology for DC. After this first anthology, Marvel approached her to write for another short anthology for them. She liked the idea of writing these because she “doesn’t like to jump in the deep end when she doesn’t know how to swim.”
- After these short anthologies, Marvel wanted more. She then wrote a limited series: Black Panther: Long Live the King.
- She was then approached to write Wakanda Forever with the stipulation that she included a volume with Spiderman, the X-Men, and the Avengers… She was excited for the challenge and learned a lot while writing these comics.
- In regards to working for Marvel, Nnedi mentioned that they work very fast! She said it was exhausting. She was all set to take a break from the comics, but then she was approached with Shuri, and she just couldn’t say no.
- Nnedi was an associate level professor at the University of Buffalo for 3 years. During this time she was traveling back and forth between Buffalo and Chicaco, where her “home base” was. When her writing career begun to take off, she knew something had to give. She said it was terrifying letting her job as a professor go, but it was definitely worth the risk because doors started opening.
- Nnedi’s biggest writing advice is to write YOUR story the way you want to tell it, and not to worry about appealing to others.
- Nnedi doesn’t believe in writer’s block. She feels that you have to put stories on pause sometimes.
- When asked how to find inspiration to write, Nnedi recommends watching the news, look at the world around you, and listening to people talk.
- She was once told by a school professor that she was an excellent writer, but that she need to stop writing sci-fi and fantasy.
- Nnedi does not write her stories in a linear way. She jumps all over the place.
- She recommends experimenting with different writing styles & processes.
Have you read any of Nnedi Okorafor’s books? If so, which ones?
Comment below & let me know 🙂