An Unexpected Light is open for registration!

Sign up at any time, work through the content at your own pace, stay connected to the growing community!

An Unexpected Light is now 'open enrollment' - which means you can sign up at any time, work through the content at your own pace, and maintain access to the active and growing community whether it takes you six months or six years to work through the course. Sliding scale spaces are available. Email me with questions!
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13/7 black hearts


I do not know many people with the ability to hold space for multiple and even seemingly conflicting perspectives, from a variety of people, in a way that centres inclusion without also replicating the conditions for exclusion and transmitting harm — Tiffany Sostar is one of them. Tiffany is present to whatever is arising in the moment, the material is thoroughly prepared, and is offered responsively rather than presented in a closed-system, with minimal regard for might be unfolding for participants. I know that wherever I am in my person or process, Tiffany is willing and skilled in meeting me there and helping me along the path of our shared understanding to a mutually desirable objective. At the risk of sounding maudlin (and understanding for that same reason Tiffany may choose to excerpt from this testimonial), I cherish Tiffany and treasure the ways in which their work supports a rigour of quality I am looking for in ways that are accessible to the full-range of experiences my bodymind inhabits. Recommend 100%. 39/24 gold stars. 13/7 black hearts.
Julie J. Nichols, Associate Professor of Creative Writing, Utah Valley University

Take it, it will change your life.

Julie J. Nichols, Associate Professor of Creative Writing, Utah Valley University

An Unexpected Light delivers exactly what its name promises. Tiffany's premise is that though there's ample reason to grieve in these environmentally and politically devastating times, there is also hope. The reading materials and the beautiful writing prompts turn our attention to internal and external spaces of refuge. To imagined future of cooperation and care. To stories of creating, belonging to, and cherishing what's left. Tiffany's training and deep personal wisdom illuminate each four-week segment of the course: readings in speculative fiction, with some theory and analysis, a rich joy for me, professor of English, but you don't have to have a PhD to be entertained and consoled by these thoughtful selections; provocative writing prompts for creative exploration; discussion of craft and content development; and, in the final week of each segment, gentle self-care instructions for such work as writing letters to lost selves, creating maps of remembered futures, and snapshots of shifted stories. Each segment is accompanied by brief but soothingly narrated videos where we see Tiffany offering vulnerability, stability, and profound care for the earth and for each of us. Opportunities for giving and receiving feedback on writing are offered though not required. The course is rich with options to study, share, and dive deep into a culture of awareness and action. If you love science fiction--if you dare to hope though you see reason to despair--if you know in your heart that writing new stories can save us--this course will nurture and guide you. It's a blessing, worth every penny of tuition. I've never seen an online course as generous, expansive, and kind. Tiffany's intelligent spirit infuses every aspect of this course. Take it--it will change your life.

Course Curriculum

  • 1

    An Unexpected Light Intro

  • 2

    Urgencies: Reframing, Renaming, Reauthoring 'Apocalypse'

    • Mapping the Problem video
    • The Apocalypse Puzzle: A Narrative Conversation with Julia video
    • Mapping the Problem Handout
    • Reading Into Collapse
    • Brave Sparrow - Our first pervasive game video
    • A Complex Filament of Light study guide
    • The Only Lasting Truth study guide
    • End of the World Show: Aww Shucks study guide
    • Writing Into Change
    • Colour: Dialogue within (asking why)
    • Craft: Dialogue
    • Integration and Care
    • Feelings Bubbles care practice video
  • 3

    Escaping from Failure

    • Escaping from Failure video
    • Escaping from Failure Handout
    • Escaping from Failure Readings
    • Dirty Computer visual album study guide
    • A Witch's Guide to Escape study guide
    • Black Angel study guide
    • Writing the Delicious Failure
    • Failure in your writing video
    • Colour: Dialogue with (asking why)
    • Craft: Letting your character fail
    • Resigning from Normality: Integration and Care exercise
  • 4

    Places of Sustenance

    • Places of Sustenance video
    • Places of Sustenance handout
    • Reading This World
    • On Fantasy, Placelessness, and Queer Futurity study guide
    • Futurestates: The 6th World study guide
    • The River study guide
    • Bonus! Unruly Edges: Mushrooms as Companion Species study guide
    • Writing the Ground We Walk On
    • Colour: Invaders, Tourists, Guests
    • Craft: Mapping in Your Writing
    • Sustaining Care practice and video
  • 5

    Remembering Futures

    • Remembering futures: Reflections
    • Remembering futures: "I believed there was no future"
    • Remembering futures handout
    • Reading Past Futures
    • Good Bones study guide
    • Lalibela study guide
    • Leaving Omelas study guide
    • The Nowness of Black Chronopolitical Imaginaries study guide
    • Between futures writing prompt
    • Colour: The Carrier Bag of Fiction
    • Craft: Playing with person and tense
    • The Selves We Could Have Been: Integration and Care
  • 6

    Kinship and Community

    • Library of Life video
    • Library of Life handout
    • Kinship and Community Readings
    • Witchbody study guide
    • Riri Williams Goes to Wakanda study guide
    • Hollow study guide
    • Disability Justice for the Apocalypse study guide
    • Writing the roots
    • Colour: Writing the Other and the Self
    • Craft: Writing Relationships
    • London Fogs: Linking Self-Care to Community
    • Bonus narrative therapy practice! Linking actions to histories video
    • Bonus narrative practice handout
  • 7

    Legacies of Action

    • Legacies of Action video
    • Legacies of Action handout
    • Reading Ourselves Into The Resistance
    • Evidence study guide
    • Mono no Aware study guide
    • gezhizhwazh study guide
    • Island Time study guide
    • Writing An Inheritance of Action
    • Colour: Engaging with History
    • Craft: Repetition
    • A Lineage of Care
  • 8

    Additional Resources

    • Coordinating Collective Action and Community Care
    • Bonus content!
    • Speculating About Ourselves as Writers
    • The Colour and Craft of Writing
    • Writing prompt tools: Dice video
    • Writing prompt tool: Games video
    • Writing prompt tool: Cards video
    • Introducing the Story Cards
    • Download Jim Tait's Story Cards
    • Staying with the Trouble: Some Donna Haraway Bonus Content video
    • Submitting Your Writing
    • Responding to Each Other's Writing
    • Who Will We Be When We Are Free: On Palestine and Futurity study guide
    • "The 12 Fundamentals of Writing the Other (and the Self)" exercises


Sliding scale is available. Please email Tiffany Sostar at [email protected] to make arrangements.


  • Will this course interfere with NaNoWriMo or my other big commitments?

    An Unexpected Light has been designed to be modular, meaning that you can do the parts that appeal to you and skip the rest. Lessons are also downloadable, so that if you're participating in NaNo or you have something big come up during the course, you can download the content and come back to it when you're able.

  • Do I need to be a writer to take this course?

    Definitely not! New writers, hesitant writers, reluctant writers, aspiring writers, and discouraged writers are all welcome and encouraged! Almost all of the contributors to Octavia’s Brood, the primary text for this course, had never written fiction, let alone speculative fiction, before that project.

  • Is this course all about apocalypse and huge political issues?

    It can be! But it doesn't have to be. Course content has been designed to allow you to take your writing and your reflections in whatever direction feels right for you - you can focus on big topics like climate crisis and politics, or you can focus on more personal topics.

  • Do I have to be a feminist to take this course?

    This course brings an intersectional feminist lens to the material, and it is explicitly focused on social justice. But you can identify however you would like! There are many reasons that someone might not identify as a feminist, including feminism's long and ongoing history of complicity with colonialism, racism, ableism, transphobia, and other oppressive systems.

  • How much time do I need to dedicate to this course?

    The core content (meaning the original content designed for a six-month course) can be completed in 2-3 hours per week. However, most people take quite a bit longer, and new content is being added regularly.


Tiffany Sostar

Tiffany Sostar

Tiffany Sostar is a bisexual, non-binary, disabled and neurodivergent narrative therapist, community organizer, writer, editor, and unabashed nerd. They have facilitated writing workshops and courses for over ten years. Tiffany is a white settler on Treaty 7 territory.

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