Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Noted author Nalo Hopkinson visited campus this past Tuesday for a reading from her latest work-in-progress, Donkey. Hopkinson primarily writes science fiction and fantasy, both of which remain overwhelmingly white genres. Hopkinson, however, always attempts to incorporate a wide range of diverse characters in her writing, “I consider what gender, race, ethnicity and culture mean in the societies I created: whether they are the same as ours and what the histories and power dynamics are that come with them.” Hopkinson’s stories always include characters of different race, gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic class, “I also make a point of representing and normalizing a range of sexual expression. I mess around with language. I represent anglo-Caribbean dialect on the page. I try to represent class,” said Hopkinson.
When asked about why she is passionate about science fiction, she answered, “most of the tales that as peoples we naturally tell tend to be fantastical in nature. They tend to be explaining the world or explaining our place in it and science fiction and fantasy are good ways of doing that.” Hopkinson also addressed the common misconception that authors solely make their salary from their books. Her advice to aspiring writers centered around . “If you are interested in becoming a writer, start thinking in terms of an income mix, not just in terms of royalties…my last royalty check was about 300 dollars. I get two of those a year,” she explained.
Hopkinson also spoke on her personal life struggles writing. Hopkinson revealed that she has disabilities, which at times could be a wonderful asset to her creativity, but also often made it hard for her to focus. “I earn part of my living from selling and writing novels, it’s by no means most of my income because I do it so irregularly. I have Attention Deficit Disorder, nonverbal learning disorder, fibromyalgia and I am recovering from acute anemia, all of which means that my output is not steady and it is difficult for me to work towards a deadline,” said Hopkinson.
Hopkinson posts on twitter and facebook and often uses twitter as a source for her research. “It’s me posting, I do not dictate to anyone,” said Hopkinson. You can find Nalo Hopkinson on the web or at the following addresses: http://twitter.com/Nalohopkinson http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nalo-Hopkinson/36238412561?ref=search&sid;=509652408.2584534082..1