Charles R. Saunders is the ground-breaking founding author of the genre called sword and soul, which employs the mythic structure of Eurocentric sword-and-sorcery and inside an African-based fantasy setting. As you’re about to hear, Saunders’s innovation arose in response to the profoundly racist dimensions of North American publishing, especially inside fantasy.
Born in Pennsylvania in 1946, Saunders achieved a degree in Psychology before moving to Canada in 1969. He lived in Ottawa for fourteen years, and since 1985 has lived in Nova Scotia. He’s been a community college teacher, research assistant, civil servant, journalist, editorialist, and copy editor.
Never one to let anyone stop him, Saunders has authored of seven novels including Imaro, The Quest for Cush, Dossouye,and Abengoni: First Calling, and four books on African-Nova Scotian history, including Sweat and Soul: The Saga of Black Boxers from the Halifax Forum to Caesar’s Palace, Spirit of Africville, Share & Care: The Story of the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children, and Black & Bluenose: The Contemporary History of a Community.
This episode’s conversation comes from deep inside the catacombs of the Grand Lodge of Imhotep. It’s a never-before aired interview we recorded by telephone on August 10, 2008. Saunders discusses:
Nnedi Okorafor is the celebrated author of ten books, including The Shadow Speaker, Who Fears Death, and the forthcoming The Book of Phoenix. Zahrah the Windseeker, Okorafor’s debut novel about a highly technological world based on Nigerian myths and culture, wasnominated for the Locus Best First Novel Award, shortlisted for the Parallax and Kindred Awards, a finalist for the Golden Duck and Garden State Teen Choice awards, and it won the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature.
This episode’s conversation with Okorafor comes from way down deep in the archives of The Terrordome: The Africa All-World News Service. I spoke with Okorafor by telephone back on January 18, 2009, but back then aired only a portion of what you’ll hear now. Okorafor talked about many issues, including:
We also discuss the powerful effect on self-conception that the American continent-wide rape gulag had on the West Africans who became the African-Americans, which were profoundly different from the effects that mass enslavement had on the so-called “indentured servants”—that is to say, European slaves, not to mention the rest of humanity since slavery existed across the planet.
Celebrated novelist NK Jemisin is the author of The Inheritance Trilogy, The Broken Earth Trilogy, and The Dreamblood Duology. Her writing has won the Locus Award for Best First Novel and three Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Awards. Jemisin’s work has also received nominations for the Crawford, Gemmell Morningstar, and James Tipree, Jr. Awards, two nominations for the World Fantasy Award, three nominations for the Hugo Award, and four nominations for the Nebula Award.
Along with Nalo Hopkinson and Nnedi Okorafor, NK Jemisin is one of the N3, a nucleus of highly influential contemporary writers of science fiction and fantasy. Jemisin is also well-known as a blogger on politics, feminism, and racism; in what writers would call a “day job” and what others would call a full-time career, she’s a counselling psychologist.
In today’s episode, Jemisin speaks on her craft, specifically:
Jemisin spoke with me by Skype from her home in New York City on January 24, 2015.
The Routledge Companion to Literature and Science calls acclaimed novelist Nalo Hopkinson a luminary in the science fiction community. She is widely identified with Afrofuturism, an Africentric aesthetic movement in music, fashion, film-making, comic books, and novels that draws upon global African aesthetics and histories to imagine new Africentric futures.
As you’re about to hear, Nalo Hopkinson has lived in many regions and communities of the Western hemisphere, making her an insider to many and an alien to many more. She’s the author of ten celebrated books including Skin Folk, Sister Mine, The New Moon’s Arms, and her explosive debut Brown Girl in the Ring, a dystopian science fiction adventure set in near-future Toronto featuring an African-Canadian heroine and the orisha gods of Nigeria and Benin who are central to the New World African cultures and religions of the Caribbean and South America.
In many ways Hopkinson and fellow author Tananarive Due novel helped re-launch Afrofuturist literature, and broke ground for novelists such as Nnedi Okorafor, N K Jemisin, Andrea Hairston, and Daniel Jose Older, and the Kenyan science fiction filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu. She’s now a professor of Creative Writing at the University of California Riverside in the only dedicated SF writing programme anywhere in the English-speaking world.
In this episode, Hopkinson discusses the craft of writing, addressing:
I began our discussion by asking Hopkinson about her work at the University of California Riverside. Note that at one point we’re discussing the Terry McMillan novel Waiting to Exhale and the movie adaptation directed by Forrest Whitaker, and unfortunately neither of us can remember the title, and later Nalo graciously cites my own novel The Coyote Kings but without naming it.
Hopkinson spoke with me from her home in Riverside, California by Skype on November 30, 2014.