Author Biography and 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 55-year-old writer who can remember being a 10-year-old writer and who expects some day to be an 80-year-old writer. I'm comfortably asocial—a hermit living in a large city—a pessimist if I'm not careful; a student, endlessly curious; a feminist; an 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 11 novels published so far. They are Patternmaster, Mind of My Mind, Survivor, Kindred, Wild Seed, Clay's Ark, Dawn, Adulthood Rites, Imago, Parable Of The Sower, and Parable Of The Talents. Parable Of The Talents won a Nebula award as best novel of 2000. I've also had published a book of short fiction and nonfiction called 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 and in October 2000, I received a lifetime achievement award in writing from PEN.

3. What were your educational preparations for a writing career?

I graduated from Pasadena City College in 1968 (Pasadena 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 Screen Writers' Guild of America, West (1969-70). The second was Clarion Science Fiction Writers Workshop (1970).

Photo by Octavia M. Butler.