Octavia Butler died yesterday. She was 58.
Hilde and I first met Octavia in 1978. She was an intensely shy and thoughtful person.
She was also one of the most sincerely caring people I've met. This came across not only in person, but in her books. (Kindred and Parable of the Sower in particular.
Tanarive Due said, at the news of her death:
“What she really conveyed in her writing was the deep pain she felt about the injustices around her. All of it was a metaphor for war, poverty, power struggles and discrimination. All of that hurt her very deeply, but her gift was that she could use words for the pain and make the world better."
We only saw Octavia a handful of times in the years after we first met her. Once, after a dinner in LA's Koreatown, we went back to Octavia's house. I remember the outside border of the monitor on her desk, and the shelves above it, had a dozen or so Post-It notes stuck on, with short notes on plot developments and goals for the work-in-progress.
One note in particular sticks in memory: "Let me feel her fear."
"Let me feel" is, I think, a good summation of her writing. And she let her readers feel, as well.
She'll be missed.