NK Jemisin is one of TIME of the magazine’s 100 Most Influential People for 2021. She is an award-winning bestselling author and the author of the first black queer woman Green Lantern, Sojourner “Jo” Mullen, in DC Comics Young Animal’s Distant sector. BGN spoke with Jemisin on the phone about the upcoming release of a collection of Distant sector comics in mid-October 2021.
The Green Lantern. What excites you most about this next version of the Collected Edition?
The fact that a lot of my book readers aren’t in the comic book business and they don’t just “go to a comic book store every month to get the” floppy disks “” as they are called – they are not interested in this; they want a book. A lot of my readers have said to me right off the bat, “Look, I understand the importance of pre-ordering and all these other things to do with buying comics, but we’re book readers.” We are your readers. So they were waiting for the chance to get this compilation. A lot of them are finally going to get the chance to see the comics I’ve worked on, as well as Jamal and Deron and all the other great people that DC has helped me create. I’m just glad my book audience is finally reading it.
Your Green Lantern, Jo, fights crime in a world where people have had no feelings for 500 years. How did this really great story come about?
Gerard Way came up with the seed for the idea. I want it to be clear that this was his idea, and I grew up [it] Starting from. I think it was after [my] second Hugo maybe? GÃ©rard contacted me and told me about this idea he had for a brand new green lantern that would be part of the Young Animal range. He wanted to make a black female Green Lantern in a world that had no love – especially love. I was like, âWell, you know, it’s hard to separate love from other emotions. Why don’t we completely suppress emotions and play with this concept? This is a standard science fiction concept. You’ve heard of Vulcans and Star Trek and so on. So it’s not really super unique or anything. Dyson Sphere is also technically a swarm of Dyson. But anyway, Dyson’s stuff is also mainstream science fiction. The cyberpunk world is science fiction. All of these things are. I have been a fan of science fiction as much as a fan of fantasy for most of my life. And so it was really a chance for me to play with all the coolest stuff – all the cool toys.
Your Broken Earth trilogy series was acquired by Michael B. Jordan’s production company Aberrant society as producers of the film. How do you feel about working with this amazing production team?
I just started working with them. So far, it’s interesting because I’m writing scripts for the first time in my life. In fact, scratch that. I wrote comic book scripts, but now I write movie scripts. It’s very different, but it’s interesting to realize that working on Distant sector was excellent preparation for working on another visual medium. It’s much easier for me to work on this film script after doing the comic book script than if I had done it cold. I’m learning to work with other people on visual stuff when I’ve never really considered myself a visual writer. Working with Jamal has really helped me.
How was the process of adapting your books to scripts? Challenges ?
Sadly, writing science fiction, Yesou have had to deal with intense cyberbullying. With the film on the horizon, how do you prepare for this whole new level of visibility? Where are you?
There is no point where you are [completely] safe. I have reduced my vulnerability to things like this due to dealing with previous cyber attacks. I know enough to protect myself from a lot of the occasional tampering, but part of the problem is that I’m no longer on Twitter. I come every few days to remind people that I am not dead. Otherwise, I’m done with social media. It has been a slow realization that I have grown too fat to just speak freely on social media. I can’t really be myself there, so there’s no point in being there. So, I’m not going to see a lot of what people decide they want to say about me. and it’s good for me. I am using new techniques to try to protect myself financially and in all other ways. It’s just part of reaching a certain point of visibility.
Are you preparing for the good things that will come with this new level of visibility?
I’m not sure there will be any good stuff. You know I’m an ordinary woman. I like going to the grocery store and walking down the street. Nobody recognizes me, I’m happy. So one of the things I did was not say much to the media like interviews anymore. I’m going to be even more selective about what media interviews I do in the future because I want to continue to be able to walk the streets and not be recognized. So that means I’m going to become a bit of an eccentric recluse, but it will add to the mystique.
Hope you will always let BGN in because we love you so much.
Well I like you so yeah I plan to keep doing that.
What brings you the most joy at the moment?
Just the fact that it’s fall. I feel like fall is my favorite season. It’s a reminder that we’ve been through most of the year, and there’s only the general aura of fall. The air smells a little sweet because of all the trees taking on leaf colors and the light is starting to take on a different color. Things like that remind me that the world is bigger than media and work and books and things like that.
NK Jemisin, Jamal Campbell and Deron Bennett Distant sector The collection edited by DC Comics Young Animal will be released on October 19, 2021.