February 14, 2011

Contact:  Tim Schmitz, Director of Wofford Summer Programs, 864-597-4551

Novelist Nnedi Okorafor Named Shared World’s First Visiting Writer

Shared Worlds, a non-profit science fiction/fantasy teen writing camp hosted by Wofford College (Spartanburg, South Carolina), has named Nnedi Okorafor the Visiting Writer for 2011. As part of her visit, Okorafor will talk about writing with the students, participate in a reading, and be interviewed about her books. Prior to the start of the camp, Shared Worlds will post a profile of Okorafor on their website, including an appreciation of her current novel, Akata Witch (April 2011). Okorafor’s visit will be funded by an grant recently received by Shared Worlds.

“Each year, we would like to turn the spotlight on one of our amazing guest writers, someone whose work is unique and also inspirational for our students,” said camp founder Jeremy L. C. Jones. “Nnedi’s fiction is truly original and her imagination is boundless.”

Over the past six years, Okorafor has written several impressive and unique novels for both adult and teen readerships, including Who Fears Death (Daw/Penguin), The Shadow Speaker (Hyperion/Disney), and Zahrah the Windseeker (Houghton Mifflin). Awards include the Hurston/Wright literary award, the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa, and the Carl Brandon Parallax Award, and been shortlisted for many more. Okorafor’s novels and stories reflect both her West African heritage and her American life. Okorafor holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Illinois, Chicago. She is a professor of creative writing at Chicago State University.

Okorafor says she enjoys meeting teen writing and readers “Because I have an interesting perspective that I think they can benefit from, they have an interesting perspective that I can benefit from, and they tend to really like my insane ideas and Okorafor Bookcrazy creatures.”

Now open to applicants, Shared Worlds 2011 will be held the last two weeks of July, marking the camp’s fourth year of operation. Guest instructors will include World Fantasy Award winner Jeff VanderMeer, Hugo Award winning editor Ann VanderMeer, Philip K. Dick Award finalist Minister Faust, World Fantasy Award winner Ekaterina Sedia, and trend-setting game designer Will Hindmarch. The grant also helps support scholarships for disadvantaged students and offsets general operating expenses.

Shared Worlds is a unique summer camp for teens (rising eighth through twelfth graders) from across the country that uses an innovative approach to writing fiction and realizing full creative potential, all in a safe and structured environment. During the first week, the students build SF or Fantasy worlds in groups. In the second week, the students fine-tune their worlds and write stories set within those worlds, receiving professional feedback from award-winning authors. Past visiting writers have included NYT bestseller Holly Black and NYT bestseller Tobias Buckell, with writers such as Ursula K. Le Guin, China Mieville, and Michael Moorcock contributing to various subsidiary efforts for the camp. Extensive media coverage for Shared Worlds has appeared in the Guardian, the Washington Post book blog, and many others.

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