Writer’s Ink: Nnedi Okorafor
While I was at Detcon1, I noticed how many of my writing buddies had tattoos, and an idea was born…
Introducing Writer’s Ink, a feature I’ll be running more or less weekly for a while, until such time as I stop doing it. (How’s that for specific?)
I’m going to start with Nnedi Okorafor, who was the YA Guest of Honor at Detcon1. Her novels include Who Fears Death (winner of the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel), Akata Witch (an Amazon.com Best Book of the Year), Zahrah the Windseeker (winner of the Wole Soyinka Prize for African Literature), and The Shadow Speaker (winner of the CBS Parallax Award). Her short story collection Kabu Kabu was released in October, and her science fiction novel Lagoon was released in April, 2014. Her young adult novel Akata Witch 2: Breaking Kola is scheduled for release in 2015. She has a daughter named Anyaugo and is an associate professor at the University at Buffalo, New York.
I asked Nnedi to tell us a little about her tattoo:
It’s an illustration from my first novel Zahrah the Windseeker [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy] (found on page 63 of the paperback). My character Nsibidi was a windseeker (a person who can fly) who worked with fortune-telling baboons. She had this drawing tattooed on her chest; it means “storyteller.” The drawing combines the Nigerian writing script called nsibidi and the creative ideas that I gave the book’s spot artist. My tattoo artist was Chicago-based artist Ryan Henry. I learned about him in a documentary about Black tattoo artists called Color Outside the Lines. It was screened at a conference to which I was also and invited guest. I love how everything is connected.
Thank you, Nnedi, for letting me show off your art! Click the photo to embiggen and get a better look at the tattoo. I also snapped a pic of page 63 for comparison, since I just happened to have the book sitting on my shelf…
The only danger I see with this series is that by the time I’m done, I may need to get a tattoo of my own. Because there are some writers out there with seriously cool ink.
July 26, 2014 @ 9:44 pm
I can just see you with a little picture of Smudge on your chest… 🙂
July 27, 2014 @ 9:23 am
What a great idea for a series! I love hearing the stories behind tattoos.
July 27, 2014 @ 4:05 pm
I like tatoos. And I live near a number of tatoo artists, so I could certainly get one. I’m not keen on pain, but not particularly afraid of needles, and I am a fan (within reason) of alchohol and pain killers, so I could cope.
What stops me is the image that always comes into my head of what my tatoo will look like when my skin is 85, if I live that long. It always worries me enough to keep me from following through on getting a tattoo.
July 30, 2014 @ 12:07 am
This is a lovely idea for a series! I love tattoos.
People who crave more posts about tattoos in the meantime may have fun browsing Carl Zimmer’s science tattoo emporium posts.