celebrating Black women writers

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From Octavia to N.K.: A Crash Course in Black women in Speculative Fiction | 4-Week Workshop

Melissa A. Watkins Saturdays, May 4-25
11a-12:30p ET
8a-9:30a PT
10a-11:30a CT
4 class sessions

By signing up for a class, you agree to our refund policy and code of conduct here.

This is the class to take if you believe in #BlackGirlMagic, space-traveling futures, and alien utopias and want to put all of those things in your own writing like the pros do.

From Octavia to N.K.: A Crash Course in Black women in Speculative Fiction is a four-week discussion-based course providing an overview of Black women writers and characters in speculative fiction, specifically focusing on narratives of hope, love, and power.

Students will ideally be readers of fantasy and science fiction looking to broaden their knowledge of Black women in those genres, interested in narratives that are not trauma-focused.

We'll be looking at work by Octavia Butler, N.K. Jemisin, Nalo Hopkinson, and Tananarive Due as well as newer writers like Jordan Ifueko, Kalynn Bayron, and Bethany C Morrow, and a few unappreciated writers from the past.

All class meetings will be held via Zoom. The link to join your Zoom classroom will be provided on the morning of your class. Please check spam folders if you do not receive an email confirmation upon registration. For more information on how to download or use Zoom, please click here.

Meet Your Instructor:
Melissa A. Watkins

Melissa A. Watkins is a new writer, an old teacher, and a lifelong fan of fantasy, sci-fi and speculative fiction. She's surprised every time Luke Skywalker finds out who his real father is, fights the air whenever Rue dies inThe Hunger Games, and wonders out loud why Frodo never met a Black elf. Appreciation for Black women in speculative fiction takes up a lot of her free time and she's looking forward to sharing it with everyone through this course. Melissa studied at Western Colorado University (B.A. Communications and Theatre) and the University of Manchester, UK (M.A. General Theology). She’s participated in Under The Volcano Guided Writer’s Residency, the Roots. Wounds. Words. Writer’s Retreat, and the Prague Summer Writer’s Program, read at Wiscon 2023, and was a panelist at the Virtual International Association for the Fantastic In The Arts 2023 conference. Most importantly,  her short stories have been published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Fantasy Magazine, khoreo, and, of course, midnight & indigo. 

Course Takeaways

  • A crash course in Black women in speculative fiction, from the OG’s to the new stars
  • Analysis of some of the most hopeful, magical, future-loving narratives about Black women in fantasy and science fiction and what makes them tick
  • Understanding of the way that Black women's narratives shape speculative fiction--and the way we are shaped by them
  • Tropes and foundations to include in your own writing
  • Brainstorming, freewriting, and workshopping
  • A big booklist of what to read when you're sick of beards and orcs and endless wars but still want to live your best Black fantasy adventure life

Course Expectations

  • Come ready to think, discuss, and enjoy! We will read a few short stories (publicly accessible) and you are more than welcome to introduce us all to your favorite works in discussion
  • Bring your writing hat–we’ll complete one short writing exercise per session to get our hope motors turning and our joy vocabulary activated.

Course Skeleton

  • Week 1: The OG's--Octavia Butler, Nalo Hopkinson, and What They Knew About Right Now
  • Week 2: The New School--Raybearer, Emergency Skin and Other Stories of Unusual Justice
  • Week 3: The Romantics: Black Women As Romantic Leads in Spec-Fic Stories
  • Week 4: Black Girl Magic: How We Use Our Powers in (Fantasy) Books and Beyond