About

Launched in January 2004 to promote literary quality in speculative fiction, the Speculative Literature Foundation addresses historical inequities in access to literary opportunities for marginalized writers. Our staff and board are committed to representing racial, gender, and class diversity at all levels of our organization. This commitment is at the heart of what the Speculative Literature Foundation stands for: equal access to create and advance science fiction, fantasy, and horror literature. We strive to enable writers at any stage of their career and of any age, any ethnicity, any gender expression, from any location and of any economic or social status, who want to learn about, or create within, the speculative arts.

More than thirty volunteers, directed by Mary Anne Mohanraj, work on an ongoing basis to:

  • Present individual and organizational grants and awards.
  • Raise funds for redistribution to quality work, by individuals and organizations.
  • Develop booklists and other materials to use in outreach efforts to schools and libraries.
  • Provide information and education to speculative fiction readers, writers, editors and publishers.

Our Staff

Mary Anne Mohanraj

Founder and Executive Director

Mary Anne Mohanraj (she/her) is author of Bodies in Motion (HarperCollins), The Stars Change (Circlet Press) and ten other titles. Bodies in Motion was a finalist for the Asian American Book Awards, a USA Today Notable Book, and has been translated into six languages. The Stars Change is a Lambda and Rainbow Award-finalist science fiction novella. Previous titles include Aqua Erotica and Wet (two anthologies edited for Random House), Kathryn in the City and The Classics Professor (two erotic choose-your-own-adventure novels, Penguin), The Best of Strange HorizonsWithout a Map, (Aqueduct Press, a collection co-authored with Nnedi Okorafor), The Poet’s Journey (picture book), and A Taste of Serendib (a Sri Lankan cookbook).

Mohanraj founded the Hugo-nominated magazine, Strange Horizons, and serves as editor-in-chief of Jaggery, a South Asian literary journal (jaggerylit.com). She received a Breaking Barriers Award from the Chicago Foundation for Women for her work in Asian American arts organizing, won an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Prose, and was Guest of Honor at WisCon and Maneki Neko Con. She serves as Executive Director of both DesiLit (desilit.org) and the Speculative Literature Foundation (speclit.org), and directs the Kriti Festival of South Asian arts and literature (kritifestival.org).

Mohanraj has taught at the Clarion SF/F workshop, and is Clinical Associate Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Mohanraj lives in a creaky old Victorian in Oak Park, just outside Chicago, with her husband, their two small children, and a sweet dog.

Managing Director

Darius Vinesar

Darius Vinesar (he/him) is a writer with a love for the fantasy and post-apocalyptic genres. As the Managing Director of the SLF, Darius is dedicated to making sure the organization is running smoothly and efficiently from day to day. Darius is also an editor and producer for the podcast, Mohanraj and Rosenbaum Are Humans, a show sponsored by the SLF. On Saturdays, Darius co-hosts with Victor Raymond at the SLF’s weekly co-writing sessions.

Finance Director

Margaret Treanor Frey

Margaret Treanor Frey (she/they) MBA, is a writer, illustrator, and composer, living in Southern California. They are currently collaborating (with Mary Anne Mohanraj) on the graphic novel, Assuming You Survive. While Margaret’s work is usually of the sci-fi or surreal variety, AYS is about the everyday lives of characters who are dealing with change, identity, and relationships, as one does, but in a fantasy setting. Works in progress and occasional dog pics can be seen on Instagram at @margarettreanorfrey.

Outreach Director

Emmanuel Henderson

Emmanuel Henderson (he/him) recently graduated from UIC with a Bachelor’s in English: Creative Writing (was also a class short of a minor in Black Studies–don’t ask, he’s still healing). Currently he does Outreach/PR for the SLF.  Emmanuel is currently writing fantasy and mainstream lit that focuses on relationship and giving black people magic.

Grants Administrator

Catherine Lin

Catherine (she/her) has been published in Adelaide Literary Magazine and children, churches, and daddies. She was one of the Mary Parson Donnellon Award recipients in Spring 2021 and has experience writing copy for Relaymile. Catherine daylights on the content team for The Borgen Project and with grants and program development at Minaret Foundation while writing fiction in her free time.

Intern, Outreach

Jai Caldwell

Jai Caldwell (she/her) is a recent UIC Creative Writing English major Alumni, that adores writing short stories, drawing comics, reading other stories, and aggressive day-dreaming for inspiration.

Our Course Instructors

Intro to Screenwriting
Ted Schneider

Ted Schneider is a director, writer, actor, consultant and teacher. His fillm “Early Light” won the Soldier’s and Sacrifice Award at the 2020 Flicker’s Rhode Island International Film Festival. His first short, “Nothing Happened,” won awards at Trenton International Film Festival March on Washington Film Festival, White House Screening. His current film, “Iqaluit,” is screening in festivals such as the 30th Annual Arizona International Film Festival (2022) Flicker’s Rhode Island International Film Festival (2022) Boston Short Film Festival (2022) Detroit Trinity International Film Festival (2022). Upcoming: “Tell Me Something Else” Short Film (post-production). Earlier this year, Ted became the story editor for an untitled feature film project from East2West Entertainment. 

As an actor, Ted has appeared alongside F. Murray Abraham, Amy Irving, Lynn Cohen, Bill Irwin, Michael Shannon, Reed Birney and Dierde O’Connell: Shakespeare, Chekhov and new works by Clare Barron, Naiomi Wallace and Lanford Wilson. He is a member of the theater and film group The Chekhov Project at Lake Lucille and holds a BFA in Theater Arts (Acting) from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and an MFA in Cinema Arts (Directing) from the Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema, Brooklyn College.

Advisory Board

Grants

Malon Edwards

Malon Edwards has been writing short stories since he was eight years old. His first story was about two astronauts who take a rocket ship to the Moon, where one decides to stay, all alone.

These days, his stories—sometimes steampunk and urban fantasy, other times horror and cyberpunk—are often set in an alternate or near-future Chicago and feature people of color. Born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, Malon now lives in the Toronto area with his wife and their two children. He has volunteered for the Speculative Literature Foundation since 2008.

N. K. Jemisin

N. K. Jemisin is the first author in the genre’s history to win three consecutive Best Novel Hugo Awards, for her Broken Earth trilogy. Her work has won the Nebula and Locus Awards, and she is a 2020 MacArthur Fellow. The first book in her current Great Cities trilogy, THE CITY WE BECAME, is a New York Times bestseller. Her speculative works range from fantasy to science fiction to the undefinable; her themes include resistance to oppression, the inseverability of the liminal, and the coolness of Stuff Blowing Up. She’s been an instructor for Clarion and Clarion West writing workshops. Among other critical work, she was formerly the science fiction and fantasy book reviewer at the New York Times. In her spare time she’s a gamer and gardener, responsible for saving the world from KING OZZYMANDIAS, her dangerously intelligent ginger cat, and his destructive sidekick, the Marvelous Master Magpie.

Educational Programs

Farah Mendlesohn

Farah Mendlesohn is a convention organizer, a charity manager, co-editor of the Hugo Award Winning Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction, author of the Hugo nominated The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein and is currently working on a short book about Joanna Russ’s The Female Man.

Pronouns: Farah or they

Ada Palmer

Ada Palmer’s Terra Ignota series (Tor Books) explores a future of borderless nations and globally commixing populations. The first volume Too Like the Lightning was a Best Novel Hugo finalist, and won the Compton Crook Award, while Ada received the Campbell Award. She teaches history at the University of Chicago, studying the Renaissance, Enlightenment, heresy, atheism, and censorship. She composes music including the Viking mythology cycle Sundown: Whispers of Ragnarok, and performs with the group Sassafrass. She studies anime/manga, especially Osamu Tezuka, post-WWII manga and feminist manga, and consults for anime and manga publishers. She blogs and podcasts at ExUrbe.com.

Cat Rambo

Cat Rambo’s 250+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov’sClarkesworld Magazine, and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. In 2020 they won the Nebula Award for fantasy novelette Carpe Glitter. They are a former two-term President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA). Their most recent works are space opera You Sexy Thing (Tor Macmillan) and science fiction anthology, The Reinvented Heart (Arc Manor),  co-edited with Jennifer Brozek. For more about Cat, as well as links to fiction and popular online school, The Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers, see their website.

Cat Rambo