Flossmoor native pens 'Black Panther'-based spinoff series

'Don't be afraid to tell the story that you want to tell.'
FLOSSMOOR, Ill. (WLS) -- An award-winning black female author who grew up in the south suburbs has been tapped by Marvel Comics to write several comic books based on the characters in the box office hit "Black Panther."

Nnedi Okorafor, a native of Flossmoor, is a superhero in her own right, breaking stereotypes with her fantastic books.

"When I'm writing a story, I already see the world as a very magical place," she said.

Okorafor's passion is writing about the future of Africa. Her parents immigrated to the U.S. from Nigeria in 1969. She says a visit to Nigeria is what led her to science fiction.

"As I got older, I started seeing technology popping up in parts of Nigeria, especially cell phones, and that got me to start thinking, 'OK, I'm looking at literature and I'm not seeing a real portrayal of Africa in the future,'" she said.

Audiences worldwide were introduced to the futuristic African kingdom of Wakanda in the movie "Black Panther."

"I've been dabbling in exploring Africa's future way before Marvel came along," Okorafor said.

Okorafor does credit the movie for helping shape the way superhero narratives are told.

"The stereotypes and tropes that it has smashed is incredible," she said. "Science fiction historically has been very white and male, and so now with women writers, you're going to have different types of stories."

Okorafor has written several Black Panther-based books, including a series focusing on Shuri, T'Challa's younger sister.

"Shuri is an awesome character. She embodies so much: She's powerful, she's flawed, she's a technological genius, she's an engineer, she's young and she's sassy," Okorafor said.

It's Shuri's powerful character that Okorafor channels when inspiring other young black female authors.

"Don't be afraid to tell the story that you want to tell," she said. "There's always going to be that voice in your head that says, 'Who's going to be interested in this? Maybe it's too culturally specific.' Turn that voice off and write exactly what you want to write."

Okorafor's latest novel, "Who Fears Death," is slated to become a new HBO series.
Copyright © 2020 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.