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.