Tell us your biography in three sentences or fewer.
I’m Nigerian, but I’ve lived in three countries (probably will soon be living in my fourth). I’ve been writing since 2012 or thereabouts but didn’t start taking it seriously until about 2015. I sold my first novel, David Mogo, Godhunter in 2018 (after bringing it to Milford the year before), and my next novel, Son of the Storm, first in The Nameless Republic trilogy, is out May 13 in the UK.
How and when did you begin writing, and what was your first published piece?
I think the first short story I sold (i.e. I was paid for) was called “Places,” and was published by the now-on-hiatus Mothership Zeta circa 2015/16. The magazine had just launched as an offshoot of the Escape Artists group, and was looking for fresh stories and new voices (I remember the same magazine launched with writers like Sarah Gailey, who is now major in the SFF world). I was a young professional working 9-5 in Lagos back then, but I was still squeezing out time to write. I sent it across, and they loved it. I wouldn’t say it kickstarted my desire to take writing fully seriously–and eventually spur me to write my first novel–but I wouldn’t not say that either.
What’s so special about writing speculative fiction?
I think of writing speculative fiction as being able to isolate often usual or banal matters in a way that allows them to be seen in high contrast, against a background where they don’t often get placed, and therefore, in a whole new light. I’ve been watching The Expanse recently, and I’ve been thinking that not a lot of it is terribly new. But just the scale of the political struggles sheds new light on how ill-taken decisions affect whole populations, planets and even species. That’s the beauty of speculative fiction: it’s a prism through which you can look at something you’ve looked at all your life, but this one time, at the other end are new angles, patterns and visionscape you’d never quite considered.
What life skills and experiences, other than writing, do you bring to your work?
Organising! I think there is nothing more important to a writer than staying organized and setting time apart to work, play, exercise, etc. I think it’s not often something that comes naturally to the practice of artistry, but needs to be honed and practiced according to one’s needs.
Tell us about your most recent publication or current writing project What’s next?
I’m writing Book #2 of The Nameless Republic trilogy, which will hit shelves sometime in 2022, after Son of the Storm. Other than that, I’m working on a couple of things, most of which I’m not able to divulge at this time. But for a recent publication: I just received my contributor’s copy of Black Panther: Tales of Wakanda from Marvel/Titan Books. It’s the first Black Panther short story anthology ever, and I have a story in it titled, “Stronger In Spirit.”
Suyi Davies Okungbowa is the author of Son of the Storm (Orbit, May 2021), first in The Nameless Republic epic fantasy trilogy, and the godpunk novel, David Mogo, Godhunter (Abaddon, 2019). His shorter works have appeared internationally in periodicals like Tor.com, Lightspeed, Nightmare, Strange Horizons, Fireside, and anthologies like Black Panther: Tales of Wakanda and Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy. He earned his MFA at the University of Arizona. He tweets at @IAmSuyiDavies and is @suyidavies on Instagram. Learn more at suyidavies.com.