Octavia Butler was one of the first “real” writers I ever met. She came to speak when I was an undergrad at Norfolk State and our honors seminar was on violence and retribution. We read Parable of the Sower, and it was my first encounter with what I would call “important” science fiction. We also read stories from Bloodchild. Both were books that I passed to my mom–and I only ever bothered my mom with the *really* good stuff.
I got to have lunch with Ms. Butler at a fancy restaurant in downtown Norfolk, and I remember how soft-spoken she was, so humble, and how I was afraid to ask her any questions because anyone who could write like that must be thinking worlds ahead of any silly writing question my puny brain might have been stuck on at the time.
I’m sure the whole gig she had at our school–the keynote and reading she gave, the quick lunch–was probably pretty forgettable to her. But I, and I’m sure most of the students in that seminar, will remember Ms. Butler. Fondly.