Nnedi Okorafor is the main feature on Locus Magazine’s May issue. Locus Magazine is one of the top magazines for sci-fi/fantasy, and for this issue they conducted an in-depth interview with Okorafor author about her forthcoming book Remote Control. From the excerpt of the interview posted on the magazine’s website, Okorafor commented on a wide range of topics. Here are a few highlights.
On how moving to Arizona from Chicago might change her writing
“Living here might affect my writing, because now I’m in a place where there are all of these different creatures. I’m always in tune with the creatures around me. When I was in Illinois, I knew all the creatures, and I was totally into everything. All the owls that would come by, I knew where they were, and I would tweet about them – all of the sparrows, the starlings, all of that. Now I’m in this place where there are all these different types of creatures. There are scorpions here. It’s a completely different type of everything – different seasons, too. I know that’s going to show up in my work.
On her futuristic aesthetics
I always say [my sense of the future] isn’t like Westworld, because that future to me is over-structured and dead. A lot of futures are portrayed like that, where everything’s too sleek. The roads are perfect, the cars are futuristic and smooth, nothing has dirt on it – you know. That always annoys me. First of all, I don’t want to live in that future. I want to live in a future where there are plants growing just because those plants wanted to grow there, not because someone planted them specifically for aesthetic reasons. My near future is more like that. You see all the tech, but it’s technology that is very specific to the area.
“You have jelly-tellies, which are these stretchable pieces of gelatin that serve as televisions. They’re screens, and you can stretch them to be the size of the wall or tiny, and they’re durable. I came up with that tech when I thought about all the trips I would take to the villages when I was in Nigeria, where it’s very rough going. There are beautiful houses deep in the forest, like mansions, that people from overseas have built, and they have these huge TVs in there. I’d always wonder, ‘How did you get that TV here in one piece?’ That’s where the idea for the jelly-telly came from.
On her writing process
In my stories, it’s always the characters that come to me first. Then the characters exist in a world, and I look at the world through the character’s eyes. I don’t outline, so I just start writing, and I started writing about this girl. I discovered her name was actually Fatima, and then her world came to me more and more. It’s a world I’ve been writing about not just in Remote Control, but in other stories too. The worlds I’m writing are big and they’re alive and there’s so much going on in them. Remote Control takes place in world that I already know really well, that I feel comfortable with, and can move around in and understand very deeply. It’s near-future West Africa. It’s all very fertile.