Fantasy as a Safe Space: Using Fantasy to Explore and Critique Social and Political Themes

Fantasy as a Safe Space: Using Fantasy to Explore and Critique Social and Political Themes – June 4, 2022 at 11AM – 12PM EST

The innate narrative distance in Fantasy Fiction creates a unique cultural space for important social and cultural critique. In this panel, we’ll explore how to mindfully build into your stories ways to cultivate ideas, validate concepts and develop conversations so you can participate in creating safe spaces in the fantasy genre.

This panel is part of Storycrafting Sessions: Fantasy, a 100% FREE virtual conference happening on June 4th!

Sign up for this panel or look at the full event schedule!

The Moderator

Dianna Gunn

Dianna Gunn is a freelance writer by day and a fantasy author by night. Her sword and sorcery novel, Moonshadow’s Guardian, was released in November 2018. 

When she’s not writing, Gunn can be found working to develop the indie author community. She hosts the #WeeknightWriters Twitter chat at 7PM EST and runs the Author Marketing Club.

The Guests

Gabi Burton

Gabi Burton is a YA author from St. Louis, Missouri. She graduated from Bowdoin College in 2021 with a double major in English and Government. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s probably watching copious amounts of Netflix, Tweeting, or finding beautiful places to walk, preferably near a body of water. She is represented by Naomi Davis at BookEnds and her debut novel, Sing Me to Sleep, comes out with Bloomsbury in 2023.

Meike Torkelson

Meike is a writer based in Wellington, New Zealand. Current writing projects include The Tales of Pickle and Jewel, the adventures of a halfling con-woman stuck with a half-orc blacksmith in the city of Porthlow, which is a fantasy version of Restoration Britain.
Meike’s favourite fantasy race is Dwarves (although Orcs are starting to nudge them out of first place) and favourite fantasy books include Julian May’s Pliocene Saga, which is forgotten these days.

Astrid Owen

Astrid Owen is an autistic/ADHD aroace non-binary fantasy author from Virginia. Her pronouns are: they/them, she/her, or any neopronouns. Zhe was born and raised in eastern Virginia. Currently, they live at home with their parents and their two cats.

In 2020, she published her first book, Investigation in Nottingham. After taking a publishing break in 2021 due to personal circumstances, zhe is excited to share zher story once again. During their break, they started a new series that will be published under another pseudonym, Seraph Abell.

Currently, she is majoring in Asian Studies and minoring in Japanese at her college. Astrid can speak and write Japanese. Zhe hopes to be able to return to college for a major in Japanese and minor in Political Science after a short hiatus after zhe graduates in the fall.

Joe Haward

Rev Joe Haward is an author, poet, and heretic. Born into an Indian family, Joe was adopted with his identical twin brother, and grew up on a small Island off the coast of Essex, UK. For many years Joe worked with his father as an oyster fisherman, the eighth generation in the Haward family to do so.
An ordained Reverend, Joe now works writing horror, dark fantasy, and noir.

His fiction and poetry has been published in a wide variety of places. Alongside two published nonfiction books, Joe’s dark poetry collection, Heresy (Uncle B. Publications) was released in 2022. His dark anthology, Sweat and Blood Between the Cracks (Anxiety Press) is out later this year, whilst Breath and Blasphemy, (Cinnabar Moth Publishing) his horror anthology, will drop in September 2023. You can find him at or on Twitter @RevJoeHaward or on Instagram @hereticwriter.

Find the full schedule for all our event panels here! Fantasy as a Safe Space: Using Fantasy to Explore and Critique Social and Political Themes is a part of the Storycrafting Sessions: Fantasy virtual conference.

This event is hosted by the Weeknight Writers group and sponsored by Renaissance Press.

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