Octavia Estelle Butler (b. June 22, 1947 – d. February 24, 2006) was a New York Times Best-selling author that known for her works such as Kindred (1979) and Parable of the Sower (1993). Butler was born in Pasadena, California, on June 22, 1947, and developed a love for books at an early age.
She began writing stories as a child and soon after she set her sights on becoming a writer. She learned an associate degree from Pasadena City College and practiced the craft by attending fiction writers' workshops. Butler also worked odd jobs to see her writing dreams become a reality. According to her website, Butler would wake up at 2 a.m. every day to write, and then go to work as a dishwater, telemarketer, or a variety of jobs to maintain her career as a writer.
In 1976, Butler published her first novel, Patternmaster. It later become part of a series of novels that depict a group of people with telepathic powers called Patternists. Three years later Butler released Kindred, which provided a major boost to her popularity. Kindred explores time-travel and race relations by telling the story of an African American woman who travels back in time to save a white slave owner who is also her ancestor.
By the 1980s, Butler’s novels were receiving much recognition. She won the Best Short Story Hugo Award and a Nebula Award all in the same year. She also published a trilogy which included the novels, Dawn (1987), Adulthood Rites (1988) and Imago (1989). The trilogy explores themes common to her such as race and genetics.
Butler made history in 1995 when she received a "genius" grant from the MacArthur Foundation. She was the first science-fiction writer to receive this grant and it helped to ease some of her troubles so she could focus on writing. Unfortunately, writer’s block coupled with health issues delayed Butler’s writing process. She wrote her last piece, Fledgling, in 2005 and the novel dives into the world of vampires.
Octavia Butler died on February 24, 2006, in Seattle, Washington. Her work is taught at colleges nationwide and she remains a celebrated science-fiction author.
Octavia Butler Interview - Transcending Barriers
Octavia Butler - The Charlie Rose Show (2000)
Octavia Butler Interview - Hour25
Remembering Octavia Butler - Democracy Now Interview (2005)