Nalo Hopkinson was born in Jamaica, and spent the first 16 years of her life in Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad and the US before her family moved to Canada. She writes science fiction and fantasy, exploring their potential for centering non-normative voices and experiences. Her first novel, Brown Girl in the Ring, won the Warner Aspect First Novel Contest in 1998. She has published six novels and numerous short stories. Her writing has received the John W. Campbell Award, Locus Magazine’s Best First Novel Award, the Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic, the World Fantasy Award, the Andre Norton (Nebula) Award, the Gaylactic Spectrum Award, the Inkpot Award, the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Award, and Canada’s Prix/Aurora Award. From 2018 to 2020, she was the lead writer of “House of Whispers” (co-writer Dan Watters), a series of comics published by DC Comics and set in the universe of Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman.” She has received honorary Dr of Letters degrees from Anglia Ruskin University and the Ontario College of Art and Design University.
Hopkinson has been a Writer-in-Residence a number of times at the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshops in San Diego, California and Seattle, Washington. She was the editor of the fiction anthologies Mojo: Conjure Stories, and Whispers From the Cotton-Tree Root: Caribbean Fabulist Fiction. She was co-editor of So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction (with Uppinder Mehan), Particulates (with Rita McBride), Tesseracts 9 (with Geoff Ryman), and the fiction editor (with Kristine Ong Muslim) of “People of Colo(u)r Destroy Science Fiction,” a special issue of Lightspeed Magazine.
Hopkinson was one of the founders of the Carl Brandon Society, which exists to further the conversation on race and ethnicity in speculative fiction. As a professor of creative writing at the University of California Riverside, she was a member of a research cluster in science fiction, and of the University of California’s “Speculative Futures Collective.” In 2021 the Science Fiction Writers of America honoured her with the Damon Knight Memorial “Grand Master” Award, recognizing her lifetime of achievements in writing, mentorship and teaching. In 37 years she was the youngest person to receive the award, and the first woman of African descent.
Photo credit: David Findlay (2017)