Priscilla Gilman

writer of fiction and nonfiction for lapsitters to teens

Black and white self-portrait, white woman looking playfully off to the side with hands partly securing the face, palms out and fingers open.
Color photograph: Overhead view of white table top scattered with an array of electronics supplies: bread boards, jumper wires, LEDs, a speaker, a small fan, batteries, screwdriver, a multimeter etc.


I start from what I know: The Maine island where I live. The Gulf Coast where I grew up. The chronic illness that disabled me. The wild places that sustain me. The children I love.Then I seek out more: I build electronics. Help frogs and salamanders migrate. Volunteer with kids at my local library.


I dig into archives. Learn from experts. Follow clues and questions and gaps and puzzles—until I start to understand. Then I go deeper.I order vintage machine parts. Study circuit diagrams. Return to that pond. Look for missed sources. Write to more experts. Document everything.

Color photograph: Vintage radial stopper switch, a bronze-colored machine part against a plain white background.
Color photograph, overhead view of a black table top with scattered paper scraps, X-Acto knife, scissors, and other supplies for making a picture book a dummy.


I read, read, read. Take classes. Draft and re-draft. Make dummies. Seek feedback.When I’m stuck, I brainstorm fifty new ways to tell it, write five, pick the best, and revise to captivate. Even the antagonist should delight. Even a machine deserves wordplay. And above all, the story must satisfy.

But why?

I’ve always wanted to live in a world enchanted by…

joy, fascination, beauty,
creativity, connection

Black-and-white photograph: A white girl about five years old crouches in low surf, fascinated by the flow of water through her hands and feet.

Galveston, Texas, 1976

And—in everything—there must be…


First image in a 4 x 3 grid of square photographs. Black and white headshot, self portrait, period eyes bugged out, looking to the side, teeth forward, cartoonish pose.
Color photograph: Headshot with gaping mouth and hands around eyes to look like two black holes. High contrast filter.
Black-and-white photograph: Close-up headshot, big eyes looking off to side, pursed lips.
Color photograph: Close-up headshot with scrunched face looking through the handles of purple scissors. Blue fuzzy cloth draped around head and neck.
Black and white photograph: headshot, dramatically greedy face, biting a couple fingers.
Color photograph: Headshot with hair wrapped around face as if it was a beard. One eyebrow raised in mock serious expression. Toy camera filter gives yellow cast.
Color photograph: headshot, prissy pose, pursed lips and chaotic, neck length hair.
Black-and-white photograph: headshot with hands poised on top of head like rabbit ears. Cute face.
Color photograph: Imitation of Obi-Wan Kenobi with light saber. Serious face in stark light with cloak around head. Shining silver stick held in front.
Black-and-white photograph: Headshot close-up, peering over crooked glasseswith one eyebrow raised, as if scrutinizing.
Color photograph: Headshot looking through a pink hair band with one eye as if it was a magnifying glass. Toy camera filter gives yellow cast.
Last image in grid of self-portraits. Black and white photograph: Headshot dramatic look of surprise, eyes and mouth wide open. Taken from above lying down, so that hair is spread around as if surprised too.

Creativity warm-up self-portraits, 2020–2023


I’d love to hear from you if you are interested in my work or in connecting as a fellow creator.I am represented by Emily Keyes.