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:

  • Her stance on pantsing vs. outlining
  • What unites the work of Terry McMillan, Neil Gaiman, and Ursula Leguin
  • The importance of symbolism, and
  • The experience of readers misreading what she’s written

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.