Nalo Hopkinson offers mentorships in 2010

Beginning in February 2010:

One on One Advanced Level Fiction Writing Mentorships in the Literature of the Fantastic (fantasy, science fiction, magical realism, etc.)

with Nalo Hopkinson
The first term of writing mentorships I offered is going well, (November 2009 to January 2010) and is coming to an end, so I’ve decided to undertake a second term.  Via email, I’ll be conducting one-on-one mentorships in writing fantasy and science fiction. These are independent mentorships (i.e. offered privately by me, not through an educational institution).

I live with a number of chronic conditions that can affect my physical and mental stamina and my ability to focus, so I’m going to be as selective as possible about who I take on. As rewarding as mentoring is, I can’t let it become so challenging that I can’t meet my own writing obligations. You and I might be a good match for a mentor relationship if you:

  • are writing some form of the literature of the fantastic, such as fantasy, science fiction, or magical realism;
  • are passionate about the reading, writing, and theory of fiction;
  • are working on a specific book-length project, probably a novel or a collection of short stories;
  • are accustomed to having your writing critiqued and won’t freak out just because I say something isn’t working;
  • have a humanistic, egalitarian, socially conscious approach to writing and life;
  • have a decent grasp of the basic tools of sentence construction such as grammar, spelling, verb tenses. When you need aids such as spelling and grammar checkers, you use those without needing to be prompted (if you need specific disability accommodations, please let me know);
  • are interested in a professional career as a working writer;
  • are patient.  I experience blips in my physical and mental energy, so the deadlines I set are not hard and fast.
  • Ideally, your writing strikes a chord with me. If I don’t find that, I’ll look for writing that seems strong or promising. Those are largely subjective judgments, so I can’t tell you in advance what will or won’t be a successful application.

    Note: There’s always the possibility that the material we deal with will contain some explicit sexual content, so you must be of legal age in your jurisdiction with respect to sexually explicit material.

    I AM:

  • a writer, editor, and fiction writing instructor in the genres of fantasy, science fiction, and whatever else you want to call it. (I’d rather write the stuff than get into arguments about definition.) I also write erotica, or porn, or whatever you want to call it;
  • one of the founding members of the Carl Brandon Society, which exists to further discussion on race and ethnicity in speculative fiction writing and community;
  • a polymath whose perceptions are weighted towards the kinetic and the verbal;
  • a bit of biology geek;
  • a lot of language geek (in undergrad, I majored in Russian and French and audited German);
  • a craftsperson fascinated with historical design, fashion and imagery, altered art, sea glass, collage;
  • an excellent communicator, a respectful and forthright instructor;
  • a big ol’ lefty queer pierced shaved tattooed disabled middle-aged third world Caribbean-born Canadian woman of colour with a belly laugh, fibromyalgia, ADHD, trifocals, a mild learning disorder, and funny hair.

  • professionally published since 1995; four novels, one collection of short fiction, and three more novels under contract;
  • recipient of the World Fantasy Award, the John W. Campbell Award, the Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic, the Spectrum Award for the portrayal of GLBTQ characters in speculative fiction; shortlisted for the Hugo and Nebula Awards, the Philip K. Dick Award, the James R. Tiptree Jr. award for speculative fiction that examines gender and gender roles, and Honourable Mention in Cuba’s Casa de las Americas Prize for Fiction;
  • editor and co-editor of four anthologies of fiction, one of which received Canada’s reader-voted Aurora Award;
  • graduate of and past instructor with the Seton Hill University Master’s program in Writing Popular Fiction;
  • instructor in the Correspondence Program in Creative Writing through Humber College, Canada;
  • past mentor at all three Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing Workshops (Seattle and San Diego, USA and Brisbane, Australia).

    Your joy in writing is important to me. I cannot predict whether you will be a successful writer. I can’t even reliably tell you whether you have talent or not; those are puddings that are very hard to prove. But I love it when a light goes on behind a student’s eyes because they’ve perceived something new about the craft of writing that they can’t wait to try out. My goals are: to help you write the story you want to write, not the one I would write; to help you develop an intuitive, body-based sense of the rhythm, structure and movement of a story. (I’ve discovered that when it comes to art, content and container are the same thing.) At the same time, I’m committed to challenging your skills and your understanding of what fiction does and how it works. I won’t dish out empty flattery. I will be honest with you about what I perceive the strengths and weaknesses of your writing to be, and I aim to do so as one peer addressing another.


    The mentorships run from February 1, 2010 to April 30, 2010.


    $2,000 in U.S. funds, payable upon acceptance (credit card or Paypal preferred).


    This part, frankly, scares me. I am a frequently broke writer, not a corporation with funds to spare. The money I earn from mentoring is necessary cash which will go immediately and directly towards my subsistence. I can’t offer refunds.


  • You’ll send me monthly excerpts from a single, coherent project.  That could be a novel, a collection of short stories, or even a novella or novelette.
  • There will be three monthly deadlines between February 1, 2010 and April 1, 2010. On the deadlines, you will send me a package of up to 40 pages double-spaced, 12-point type. I will respond to you within a few days.
  • I won’t evaluate rewrites of material I’ve already seen; it’s really difficult to see the departures in the rewritten work and even more difficult to have a fresh response to them, so it’s hard to know whether the rewrite has been successful or not.
  • DEADLINE: January 15, 2010. Yes, only a few days left!

    TO APPLY, email me:

  • a one to two-page cover letter that provides your name, contact information (correct snail and email addresses, phone number) and age. Tell me a bit about yourself and give me a sense of your publishing history if you have one, along with a description of the project on which you’d like to work and why you think a mentorship with me will be useful for you;
  • an attachment containing a five-page fiction sample of your writing in English (double-spaced, one inch margins, twelve point type, font Courier New or Times New Roman).

    I’ll select the writers with whom I want to work, and advise you in a few days whether you’ve been accepted. If you are, payment is due in full as soon as I invoice you.