Fiction with a Twist


This Valentine’s Day, the 9th grade students of The Young Women’s Leadership School (TYWLS) of Jamaica, Queens got a special treat: a visit from guest artist and science fiction writer Gillian Adler. In previous classes, the students began to explore the world of fiction with Teaching Artist Katie Rainey, debating what makes a story a story and who gets to decide that. 

Gillian built on that work by introducing science fiction, or the idea of asking “what if” in our writing. What if a giant meteor struck earth? What if you had the ability to time travel? Gillian introduced the genre by reading from one of her own short works titled “Bon Voyage,” inspired by the award-winning science fiction writer Octavia Butler. The students listened to Gillian read her work and then took time to navigate themes, symbols, and imagery that stood out in the piece.  

After that, Gillian prompted the students to create their own science fiction pieces, based off one of three different prompts she gave them. The work that came out of these prompts was inspiring and the girls could not have been more enthusiastic about writing them:  

With nearly 15 years of non-profit experience in grant writing, training, and program evaluation, Gillian Adler is committed to empowering arts non-profits to build new pathways of support so that they can do the work of creating a greater future for our children, support mental/emotional wellness, strengthen career pathways for artists, and overall highlight the arts as a vital component for every community. Further, organizations such as The Ron Brown Scholarship Program, YWCA of Greater North Carolina, Organizing for America, The Center for Arts Education, Ghetto Film School, CUNY School of Public Health, Elsewhere, Community Word Project, and many others have partnered with Gillian for private foundation, government, and individual development with goals ranging from $1.5 million to $8 million annually and building program evaluation models to understand the reach and impact of their programs. Gillian is also a Sundance Documentary Fellow Alumnus, placed in the top 20 in the EW Scripps Spelling Bee Competition, oil painter, and for the past 5 years has taught courses focused on writing Science Fiction.