Science-fiction is a genre that is oftentimes dominated by tropes, viewed through the lens of one demographic: White Guys. Very rarely do you hear of Octavia Butler, or even Ursula K. Le Guin, within the same breath as those who “whisper longingly” for the words of Neil Gaiman, or Neal Stephenson. However, authors such as Rorie Still are seeking to rectify that calamity. Flashbang: Stories That Will Blow Your Mind, is a compilation that attempts to showcase the breadth and intensity of the sci-fi genre, all while showcasing the originality of the stories and of its author.
In addition to Flasbang, Rorie Still is also a contributor to Hidden Melody, by author Nailia Mattison. I sat down with the prolific author/artist for our site’s very first artist interview.
Why do you write?
I write because I like spilling my imagination and soul on the page. I write to create because it excites me like nothing else. I write to create a better world.
What Do You Read To Write?
I read a little bit of everything, but specifically Internet blogs, screenwriting books, fantasy, sci-fi, graphic novels, the Lifewriting group of Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due, and fan fiction.
Is there a reason you became a writer? What other artists do you admire?
The reason I became a writer is that I like to create and tell stories. I also like to solve problems. Writing enables me to do all three. Some of the artists who I admire are Octavia Butler, L. A. Banks, Tananarive Due; all Black, female science fiction writers, and Issa Rae of the “Awkward Black Girl” series. I also admire my author friend, Trina Lynne of “I Mean Really Dude” and “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly”. I also like several graphic artists.
You mention Octavia Butler and L.A. Banks, two African-American female writers. How important is the Black/African Diaspora to sci-fi?
The Black Diaspora is important to science fiction for two reasons. The first is that by creating characters of Afro descent, the story is given more authenticity in that it now has the complex and multicultural perspective that real life has, not just a White one. The second reason is best explained in the definition of Afro-futurism, which is sci-fi that draws upon the Black diaspora experience to create a new world, in which real world oppression and isolation issues can be done on the page, and possibly suggest a solution for real life problems. The Black Diaspora is important to science fiction because many of us, particularly using the concept of Afro-futurism, tend to mirror certain real-world oppression themes or societal ills into our work, and many times come up with tangible solutions. In writing as one of the most oppressed but victorious groups, we help humanity to move forward by showing how to be more empathetically human, or the terrible consequences of a lack of humanity.
Why don’t we hear enough of about these writers?
Racism and sexism is still alive and well, and I think that as an inter-sectional group Black, female sci-fi writers are not corporately promoted as much as their White, male counterparts. I think that it might be so unexpected, not within the stereotype of what Black women write about, that not enough people are in the know about these amazing authors. I’m seeing that is changing.
Advice to a budding writer.
Write everyday when:
1. You don’t know what to write.
2. You don’t think you can.
3. You think you aren’t good enough or don’t have anything to say.
Above all else, you are enough and you were made to show others through your art, a spark of the divine. Please contact me! I have a starter package.
Yes! I love the plug you just gave yourself, by the way. And one final, cliched journalistic question: Where do you see yourself, and your work, in 5-10 years.
I see myself owning a multimedia studio that publishes books, produces television, film, and music, and has a merchandising arm as well.