Monday, December 19, 2016

Sheila Liming -- My Neighbor Octavia

My Neighbor Octavia: For years, I knew Octavia E. Butler, the famed African American science fiction and fantasy writer, by her first name only. That was the way she introduced herself when I first met her back in the fall of 1999. Butler had just purchased the house across the street from my parents’ and joined the ranks of our rather conventional suburban community in Lake Forest Park, WA, located just north of Seattle. A spate of rumors had attended her arrival on the block: “Octavia” wrote novels (about aliens!); “Octavia” had one of those “genius” grants; “Octavia” lived alone and was a reclusive artist type. An interview with Butler appeared in the Shoreline-Lake Forest Park Enterprise, our humble (and long-since defunct) local weekly, explaining that our new neighbor was, indeed, the author of a dozen novels and a MacArthur Fellowship recipient.

4 comments:

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Great story. Thanks for sharing it.

Steve Oerkfitz said...

I've been meaning to read more of Butler.

Randy Clark said...

Many years ago I met Octavia Butler at a scholarly conference; she was the Guest of Honor. I had her autograph one of her books so that I could give it to a student of mine who was also named Octavia. I cannot remember what Butler said in her inscription but I do remember it was very thoughtful and kind. When I gave the book to my student she burst into tears and explained that she had grown up in a series of foster homes and had never owned a book other than her college textbooks. I have always been grateful to Ms. Butler for the inspiration she provided to that young woman.

Bill Crider said...

Great story, Randy.