Octavia Estelle Butler was born in Pasadena, California on June 22, 1947. She received an Associate of Arts degree from Pasadena Community College, and attended California State University in Los Angeles and the University of California.
A multiple recipient of both the Hugo and Nebula awards, Butler was one of the best-known women in the field. In 1995, she became the first science fiction writer to receive the MacArthur Fellowship, nicknamed the “Genius Grant”.
After writing her now-prophetic novels Parable of the Sower (1993) and Parable of the Talents (1998), Butler had planned to write additional books in the series–Parable of the Trickster, Parable of the Teacher, Parable of Chaos, and Parable of Clay. In interviews, Butler noted that the research and writing of the Parable novels had overwhelmed and depressed her, so she had shifted to something “lightweight” and “fun” instead. Fledgling was born.
Although best known for her award-winning science fiction, Butler’s final novel is a vampire tale, entitled Fledgling. Like most of her work, it has themes of race and otherness.
The novel explores a vampire community living in a host/symbiont relationship with humans. Fledgling tells of the coming-of-age of a young female hybrid vampire (She’s in her 5os, but looks like an eleven year old). The only survivor of a vicious attack on her family that left her an amnesiac, she must seek justice for her dead, build a new family, and relearn who she is.
Buy Fledglingand find out more about Octavia and study her work with NOLA Wild Seeds, a a feminist-of-color collective that uses speculative fiction and art as a resource for social change.
Sumiko Saulson is a novelist, poet, and artist from Los Angeles, California now living in Oakland, California, who by age 19, had two self-published books of poetry. She is the Oakland Art Scene reporter for the Examiner.com and also a lead vocalist in the alternative rock/crossover band, Stagefright, that combines gothic and alt rock influences with reggae.
Saulson has penned several novels– Solitude (2011), Warmth (2012), Happiness and Other Diseases (2014), Somnalia (2015), and Insatiable (2015). Many of her short stories have been published online or with presses large and small, including Crystal Lake Publishing’s Tales From the Lake Volume Three. In 2016, she won the Horror University’s Scholarship from Hell, given by the Horror Writer’s Association.
She has also compiled a non-fiction book collection of author biographies and interviews called 60 Black Women in Horror (2014), which she is currently in the process of updating the book to add at least another twenty writers.
Her short story anthology Things That Go Bump In My Head (2012), has something for just about any horror lover–a few old-fashioned scares, a ghost story, and dark humor. You can also find her work in the Colors in Darkness anthology of horror featuring characters of color, Forever Vacancy.
Washington state native Crystal Connor loves anything to do with monsters, bad guys, and rogue scientific experiments. In addition to writing, she also reviews horror and sci-fi films for Horror Addicts.
Connor, who “writes straight up horror with a service of science fiction and dark fantasy on the side,” uses her time spent serving in the United States Navy in her writing, piecing together monsters and nightmares from tales she learned of during her deployments at various ports-of-call throughout Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
Book One of her Spectrum Trilogy, The Darkness, featuring a battle between two powerful women over a child neither of them has birthed. Artemisia, a scientist who also practices alchemy, determined to erase what tradition has established as the boundaries separating the realm of man from the realm of God. Inanna, a dangerous witch, more deadly than any other in the long tradition before her.
But the Child, may prove to be stronger than either of them.
Self-publishing can be a challenge. Okay, it’s hard. To not only write the book, but get it edited, obtain the right cover, the right formatting–for print, for Kindle, for Smashwords, they’re all different– all without breaking the bank. So sometimes you need support.
I’m proud to be a part of Banshee Books, a co-operative of female, female identifying, and queer writers founded by British horror author Carmilla Voiez. Writers will self-publish their works, but this group offers support, guidance and promotion throughout the process.
In addition, members will read and review one women-friendly and/or trans-friendly book per month. This time around, we’re reading Lilith’s Brood by Octavia E. Butler. (Re-reading for me.)
Interested in joining? To be accepted all works must have an intersectional feminist theme. New members will be agreed by a majority vote of existing members, but all members agree to support and help promote each other’s work.
Camille and the Bears of Beisa—Drafnel is a sci-fi/fantasy/thriller tale that has been compared to Frank Herbert’s masterpiece, Dune in its sweeping worldbuilding. In addition, it has several urban settings, a matriarchal society, and a female protagonist of African descent.
Sliding seamlessly between modern day Brooklyn, 20th century Jamaica, and the fictional world of Narvina, Drafnel chronicles Camille’s fight for knowledge and self-preservation. When those worlds clash, secrets unravel and hidden agendas are exposed.
Camille and the Bears of Beisa is available today on Amazon and my review is forthcoming. But here is an excerpt to whet your appetite:
Narvina, Nu-century 2055
Aknanka clamps down with all her might. Her teeth tear into Sephia’s wrinkled skin, digging for chunks of flesh. They only grind against bone. A fist smashes into her cheek, jerking her head sideways. Sephia yanks her hand away right before Aknanka chomps down again. Blood gushes everywhere.
“I’m not going anywhere with you!” Aknanka’s scream rages through the interior, punching a small dent into the door. It slams shut.
Any experimenting she needs to conduct today will be done right here. And without blindfolds. The metal restraints chafe Aknanka’s wrists as she wriggles around for freedom.
“Stop fighting, Dreamer. You make this harder than it has to be.”
“Bet you’ll think before trying that again, oh Wise One!” Aknanka’s aim is accurate. Bloody sputum soils the middle of Sephia’s tunic.
A med-bot enters the room and stitches the bandages over Sephia’s wound. The pale Elder clenches her fists. Her eyes blaze to match the blood staining the floor. The med-bot’s front panel flashes, absorbing the charge from Sephia’s quelled anger. Sparks bounce across the overloaded circuits. The bot spins over to the sealed porthole and then powers down.
“These gene markers will soon confirm our suspicions, Dreamer.” Sephia’s shoulders stiffen, tugging at the hood to expose her protruding frontal lobe. Her white skull magnifies in the dimness. Her lips never move.
Na-mum Camille warned Aknanka that the Elders would spare no sympathy once they discover her true kinsatah. She followed every painstaking instruction: the implants are undetectable, even from their host.
Jamaica, 20th Century
The food on display and the brilliant dyes of the hand-loomed textiles hanging at the market made me homesick. The marketplace crowded with vendors selling varied crafts and wares. The frenzied pitch of the hagglers echoed under the tin roofs. Voluptuous women wearing multi-colored wraps balanced huge straw baskets on cornbraided heads, while children darted through stalls with jaws stuffed of toffee candy or juggled melting snow cones with syrup-stained hands. Fruits ripening in the heat sweetened the layer of jerk pork and chicken charring over coals inside huge metal drums.
At first Miss Mattie kept me close, but as the market became more crowded her clenched fingers slackened. I searched the aisles, worried about returning home empty-handed. Failing to find any spices, I started making my way back to Miss Mattie and then noticed a young woman with a basket tucked between her knees. Loose braids stuck out from under her head scarf. Kind hazel eyes invited me forward. Curious, I bent over to check out the samples. The woman pulled me closer and stuffed a piece of cloth into my waistband.
“A gift from the Goling family, Miss. Put it in safe-keeping. This has been my honor.”
Miss Mattie swooped in at my heels in a matter of seconds. She sniffed the air several times and shoved me away from the vendor’s stall. We left thirty minutes later, my impatience to unwrap the cloth’s contents shielded.
Unpacking the supplies, I started dinner. Then, while the meal simmered, I sneaked to my room and pulled out the puffed packet. Wrapped inside were five cinnamon sticks. My smile must have been a mile wide. I decided to add them to my hideaway after Miss Mattie left for church that Sunday.
As my guardian angel instructed, I wrapped a small piece under the ribbon tied around my braid. I noticed Miss Mattie’s immediate reaction. Her harsh tone gentled and she even allowed me to eat with her at the dining table. A welcomed change, my nerves were still on guard, unsure of how long Miss Mattie’s tolerance would last. Against my better judgment, I decided to ask about Caleb and Cassandra.
“Miss Mattie, do you think I can visit with my sister and brother sometime soon?”
Growling, Miss Mattie cocked her head and then swung around to face the door. Her eyes rolled back into their sockets. Her head snapped back as she sniffed the air.
“Why are you sitting at this table?”
I warned you, Grandmother. Leave the table now!
Miss Mattie’s neck protruded as her limbs extended. Fingers mutated into claws and hind legs ripped through her lower extremities. Wiry tufts of hair sprouted all over her body. Her face contorted and elongated as saliva slimed down enlarged jowls. My hand stifled the scream roaring through my head.
Get up and walk away slowly. Do not turn your back on it. Now!
Simone Salmon, a Jamaican born New Yorker, is the mother of two sons and a Jack Russell terrier. Simone is still working on her exit strategy from Corporate America, but in the meantime she writes novels, poetry and expands her multi-sensory perceptions.
She is a spiritual truth seeker who appreciates psychic phenomena and timelessness. Music of all kinds, warm weather, lounging on the beach, and experiencing the unknown are just a few of her most favorite things. Learn more about Simone on Facebook, Twitter, her blog: Origisims, and her website. You can also find her on Goodreads,Pinterest, and her Amazon Author Page.