Into The Black Fantastic: How We Build New Worlds

Into The Black Fantastic: How We Build New Worlds

February 7th 2023 | 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

This Black History Month, join the Southern Studies Fellowship in Arts and Letters Writer-in Residence Desiree S. Evans as she moderates a conversation on the power of the Black fantastic with speculative fiction writers Nicky Drayden, Ehigbor Okosun, and Suyi Davies Okungbowa. 

Worldbuilding is a key part of creating fictional narratives, and it is a core element of storytelling found in the speculative fiction genre. Whether creating imagined futures or alternate universes, speculative fiction writers must be able to immerse readers into their new worlds on the page. The panelists will discuss how they build their own speculative worlds in their novels, and how they weave worldbuilding into every aspect of the story, from setting to plot to character arcs, from science to magic systems. 

Register Here!

About the Panelists

Nicky Drayden is a Systems Analyst who dabbles in prose when she’s not buried in code. She resides in Austin, Texas where being weird is highly encouraged, if not required. Her award-winning novel THE PREY OF GODS is set in a futuristic South Africa brimming with demigods, robots, and hallucinogenic hijinks, and with her latest series ESCAPING EXODUS and its sequel ESCAPING EXODUS: SYMBIOSIS, she takes her weirdness off-world to a civilization living inside the gut of a moon-sized space beast. See more of her work at or catch her on twitter @nickydrayden.


Ehigbor Okosun is an Austin-based author who writes speculative fiction for adult and young-adult audiences. Her debut adult fantasy novel, FORGED BY BLOOD, is forthcoming from Harper Voyager in August 2023. A British private school survivor turned Nigerian-American immigrant, Ehigbor hopes to do justice to the myths and traditions she grew up steeped in, and to honor her large, multiracial and multiethnic family. She is a graduate of the University of Texas with degrees in Plan II Honors, Neurolinguistics, and English, as well as Chemistry and Pre-Medical studies. When she’s not reading, you can catch her bullet journalling and baking. Follow her on Twitter at @Ask_Heebs, and on Instagram at @okosunreads.

Suyi Davies Okungbowa is a Nigerian author of fantasy, science fiction, and general speculative work. His latest novel is SON OF THE STORM (Orbit, 2021), first in the epic fantasy trilogy, The Nameless Republic (WARRIOR OF THE WIND, second in the trilogy, is forthcoming in 2023). His debut godpunk fantasy novel DAVID MOGO, GODHUNTER (Abaddon, 2019), won the 2020 Nommo Ilube Award for Best Novel. His shorter works have appeared in various periodicals and anthologies and have been nominated for various awards. He earned his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona, and lives in Ontario, where he is a professor of creative writing at the University of Ottawa. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @suyidavies, or via his newsletter,


About the Moderator

Desiree S. Evans writes fiction for children, teens, and adults. She is the co-editor of the forthcoming young-adult fiction anthology THE BLACK GIRL SURVIVES IN THIS ONE (Flatiron Books, 2024), and a contributor to the young-adult fiction anthologies COOL. AWKWARD. BLACK. (Penguin Teen, 2023) and FORESHADOW: STORIES TO CELEBRATE THE MAGIC OF READING AND WRITING YA (Algonquin Young Readers, 2020). Desiree’s creative writing has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and has appeared in literary journals such as Gulf Coast, The Offing, Nimrod Journal, and others. Desiree is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, and the Michener Center for Writers at The University of Texas at Austin, where she received her MFA in fiction. Visit her on the web at, and follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @literarydesiree.


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