Robyn Okrant is a Chicago author, freelance writer, actress and yoga teacher. Her book, LIVING OPRAH: My One Year Experiment to Walk the Walk of the Queen of Talk, was published in the US, UK, Australia and Portugal.
She also created the long-running play Frodo-A-Go-Go: The Rings Recycled based on The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and the critically-acclaimed, live-action version of The Twilight Zone. That said, she’ll be your ideal guide to other worldly writing in her class Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy during the month of October:
What do you write? Personal essays, dystopian fiction, dark comedies for theatre and short film.
Have you ever written in or been influenced by other styles or genres of writing? (Memoir, poetry, playwriting, etc?) My earliest influences as a writer were authors of dystopian lit: Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, Margaret Atwood.
What’s your favorite procrastination technique? TV Show Marathons! Buffy, Battlestar Galactica, Deadwood.
Tell us about one piece of writing you’ll never show anyone. My private journals from college are blackmail material.
Do you read while (before/during/after) you’re writing? If so, what? I don’t read anything in the genre I’m working. When I’m getting toward the end of a project, I have such tunnel vision, I barely remember to shower and eat…I don’t even consider picking up a book.
What are you working on now? I’m editing a novel, co-writing a screenplay, and writing a play.
What’s the best writing advice you ever got? Get the words on paper — you can always edit bad writing, but you can’t do anything with a blank page. Except origami.
Tell us about the class you’ll be teaching. I’ll be teaching a class that focuses on sci-fi, fantasy, and dystopian fiction.
Tell us about your personal history with or interest in this class topic? I am a loud, proud sci-fi nerd. I am a creator of fiction in the genre, and a voracious reader and audience member of sci-fi/fantasy (including post- apocalyptic fiction, film, and TV). I’ve even created several popular live-action sci-fi/fantasy plays that have been produced in Chicago.
What can students expect in your class? A respectful, challenging, supportive environment where they are encouraged to create their fictional worlds. We will also investigate published authors and discuss how they address real-world concerns through their fiction. Students at any stage in their sci-fi/fantasy projects are welcome to attend.
Why should people take your class? Writers in this genre can often be marginalized…here, if it’s your passion, it will be celebrated. If you’ve ever wanted to workshop your writing in a group that speaks your language, then this is a great space to share your work.