Nicky Drayden is a systems analyst, and when she’s not debugging code, she’s detangling plot lines and mixing metaphors. Her debut novel, The Prey of Gods (Harper Voyager), featured in The New York Times Best of New Science Fiction and Fantasy and The Wall Street Journal’s Summer Reading: One Expert, One Book. Drayden’s sophomore novel, Temper, is touted as an exciting blend of Afrofuturism and New Weird. Her travels to South Africa as a college student influenced both of these works, and she enjoys blurring the genre lines between mythology, science fiction, fantasy, horror, and dark humor.
Drayden learned to write novels the old fashioned way, by banging out a crappy draft during the month of November with thousands of other aspiring novelists. In between novels, she frequently dabbles in short fiction, with over 30 stories in publications such as Shimmer, Daily Science Fiction, and Space and Time Magazine.
During her stint as managing editor for The Drabblecast, she helped continue the speculative fiction podcast’s tradition of bringing strange stories to strange listeners. Once a year, she’d escape the slush trenches to work on “Women and Aliens Month” a special series featuring alien stories written by luminaries such as Lauren Beukes, Nnedi Okorafor, and Alaya Dawn Johnson.
Nicky Drayden lives and writes in Austin, Texas where being weird is highly encouraged, if not required.
Amal El-Mohtar is an award-winning writer of fiction, poetry, and criticism. Her stories and poems have appeared in magazines including Tor.com, Fireside Fiction, Lightspeed, Uncanny, Strange Horizons, Apex, Stone Telling, and Mythic Delirium; anthologies including The Djinn Falls in Love and Other Stories (2017), The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales (2016), Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories (2014), and The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities (2011); and in her own collection, The Honey Month (2010). Her articles and reviews have appeared in the New York Times, NPR Books and on Tor.com. She became the Otherworldly columnist at the New York Times in February 2018, and is represented by DongWon Song of HMLA.
Amal has written stories about maps, bird women, book women, the Arabic alphabet, singing fish, Damascene dream-crafters, sentient diamond oceans and pockets that are bigger on the inside. Her story “Seasons of Glass and Iron” won the Nebula, Locus and Hugo awards in 2017, while her stories “The Green Book” and “Madeleine” were finalists for the Nebula Award in 2011 and 2015 respectively, and “The Truth About Owls” won the Locus Award in 2015.
Her poems “Song for an Ancient City,” “Peach-Creamed Honey,” and “Turning the Leaves” won the Rhysling award for Best Short Poem in 2009, 2011 and 2014 respectively, and in 2012 she received the Richard Jefferies Poetry Prize for “Phase Shifting.” In her (few) hours of rest she drinks tea, lifts weights, plays harp, and writes letters to her friends by hand.
Gabrielle Goldsby is the author of six novels including Forward Magazine finalist, Remember Tomorrow, the Lambda Literary Award-winning Wall of Silence, and The Caretaker’s Daughter, recipient of the Alice B. Lavender Certificate. A Northern California transplant, Gabrielle currently resides in Portland, Oregon.
Jewelle Gomez (Cape Verdean/Ioway/Wampanoag) is a writer and activist and author of the double Lambda Award-winning novel, THE GILDA STORIES from Firebrand Books. Her adaptation of the book for the stage “Bones & Ash: a Gilda Story,” was performed by the Urban Bush Women company in 13 U.S. cities. The script was published as a Triangle Classic by the Paperback Book Club.
She is the recipient of a literature fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts; two California Arts Council fellowships and an Individual Artist Commission from the San Francisco Arts Commission.
Her fiction, essays, criticism and poetry have appeared in numerous periodicals. Among them: The San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, The Village Voice;Ms Magazine, ESSENCE Magazine, The Advocate, Callaloo and Black Scholar. Her work has appeared in such anthologies as HOME GIRLS, READING BLACK READING FEMINIST, DARK MATTER and the OXFORD WORLD TREASURY OF LOVE STORIES.
She has served on literature panels for the National Endowment for the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council and the California Arts Council.
She was on the original staffs of “Say Brother,” one of the first weekly, Black television shows in the U.S. (WGBH-TV, Boston) and “The Electric Company” (Children’s Television Workshop, NYC) as well as and on the founding board of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). She was an original member of the boards of the Astraea Foundation and the Open Meadows Foundation.
Her first novel, THE GILDA STORIES, celebrated its 20th year in print in 2011 with readings at the Museum of the African Diaspora and at the Queer Arts Festival. Her other publications include three collections of poetry: THE LIPSTICK PAPERS (1980) and FLAMINGOES AND BEARS (1986), both self published and ORAL TRADITION from Firebrand Books (1995). She edited (with Eric Garber) a fantasy fiction anthology entitled SWORDS OF THE RAINBOW (Alyson Publications (1996) and selected the fiction for THE BEST LESBIAN EROTICA OF 1997 (Cleis).
She is also the author a book of personal and political essays entitled FORTY-THREE SEPTEMBERS (Firebrand Books 1993) and a collection of short fiction, DON’T EXPLAIN (Firebrand Books 1997).
She has presented lectures and taught at numerous institutions of higher learning including San Francisco State University, Hunter College, Rutgers University, New College of California, Grinnell College, San Diego City College, The Ohio State University and the University of Washington (Seattle).
Formerly the executive director of the Poetry Center and the American Poetry Archives at San Francisco State University she has also worked in philanthropy for many years. She is the former director of the Literature program at the New York State Council on the Arts and the director of Cultural Equity Grants for the San Francisco Arts Commission. She is also the former Director of Grants and Community Initiatives for Horizons Foundation as well as the former President of the San Francisco Public Library Commission. She is currently Playwright in Residence at New Conservatory Theatre Center.
A Milwaukee, Wisconsin, native, Sheree L. Greer has been published in Hair Trigger, The Windy City Times, Reservoir, Fictionary, The Windy City Queer Anthology: Dispatches from the Third Coast, and Best Lesbian Romance 2012. She has performed her work across selected venues in Milwaukee, New York, Miami, Chicago, and Tampa, where she hosts Oral Fixation, the only LGBTQ Open Mic series in Tampa Bay. She earned her MFA at Columbia College Chicago and currently teaches writing and literature at St. Petersburg College. Sheree, an Astraea Lesbian Writers Fund grantee, completed a VONA residency at University of Miami and self-published a short story collection, Once and Future Lovers.
While her obsessions constantly rotate and evolve, Sheree has an undying love for hot sauces, red wines, and crunchy tacos. She plays less-than-mediocre electric guitar but makes nearly-perfect guacamole.
When M.B. isn’t writing, she works as a producer of the theatrical trailers everyone talks through when they go to the movies. She also spends her spare time skating in roller derby, pretending she’s a cowboy, and playing with swords. Living in Los Angeles with her partner and herd of fur children has taught her useful defensive driving skills and how to be too friendly. She has kindly requested that, if the time ever come, her lifeless corpse be dragged into LA County limits before she is officially declared dead.
La Toya Hankins is a native of North Carolina and currently resides in Durham NC. A graduate of East Carolina University in Greenville, NC, she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism with a minor in political science. During her college career, she became a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority and later served as second vice president for one of the largest graduate chapters in North Carolina.
Her literary influences and loves include Zora Neale Hurston, Walter Mosley, Anne Rice, and Pearl Cleage. Her motto, borrowed from Hurston, is “I do not weep at the world, I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife
Nikki Harmon, an alumna of The Philadelphia High School for Girls, Wesleyan University and Temple University, has always pursued academic challenges. However, cursed with an overabundance of curiosity, she chose a creative lifestyle as a way to indulge her many interests. As a filmmaker, television producer and a teacher of the aforementioned, she gets to spend her days weaving stories and images together and trying to make sense of it all. Writing her first novel began as a personal challenge, specifically, the NaNoWriMo write 50,000 words in a month challenge. And so, without any training or planning at all, she did. And out came a book. Despite the guilty pleasure that came with ignoring her three children that month, she didn’t write again for three years. Then, with the encouragement of friends, she decided to dig the book out, make it better and hope somebody else would enjoy reading it as much as she enjoyed writing it. Having ruined her eyes at a young age reading Stephen King by flashlight, it is only fitting that this Philly native finally come full circle to squint at her own scratchings on the page. Here is one truth learned ….it takes much longer to write a book than it does to read one. Especially when one has dropped out of typing class in high school.
Kim Hartfield is a queer woman who’s been writing since she could pick up a pen. Her novels are sweet and steamy, and they always end with a happily-ever-after. She also writes sci-fi lesbian romance under the name Kimberly Hart. Find her on Facebook under Kim Hartfield, or join her group The Romantic Hart!
Destiny Hawkins is a multi-genre author with a dark imagination and a love for magic.
She enjoys cooking, running, swimming, listening to music, reading, and of course watching anime filled with fantasy! Her favorite genres to read and work in are Fantasy, LGBT, Paranormal, Romance, Dystopian, Sci-fi, and young adult. After three years of writing, she has published almost 20 books and she has many more coming!