Samuel Montgomery-Blinn interviews Nnedi Okorafor for the SFWA Blog. Here’s an excerpt:
Sexism and racism, particularly ethnicism, play a part in much of your fiction, and your fiction has been recognized and awarded for its treatment of these themes and issues. Do these themes come from placing your characters in a realistic world where such struggles exist, or do the themes come first, and the characters are those which fit what you are trying to say?
My characters always come first. You can’t have a plot if you don’t know who is going to move through it. Onyesonwu came to me way before her story did. The first scene I wrote was the first scene of the novel. No outline, no nothing. Just Onyesonwu at her father’s burial and some madness happens. The themes and issues came organically as I wove her story. I had no clue that I would write this type of novel until I wrote it.
As far as the realism, that is something you’ll always find in what I write. In Who Fears Death, the Golden Rule of sorcerers is to, “let the eagle and the hawk perch” That’s a central belief in Igbo (Nigerian) traditional spirituality and I deeply believe in it. The phrase can mean, “live and let live.”Or it can mean, “Let all spiritualities/religions coexist” It can mean, “Let the mundane world exist with the spiritual realm.”Realism and fantasy coexist in my world and in my stories.