Remembering Barry King

Back in 2009, I attended my first real convention as a writer. It was a Worldcon, and the only reason I got up the courage to go is because it was being held in Montreal, my hometown. Having never been to a con before, my general impression was of something huge and overwhelming where everyone already knew each other, and where I most definitely didn’t belong. I attended panels, and for the most part spent the weekend too terrified to talk to anyone. The exception was the workshop I signed up for, where a pro and a neo-pro author teamed up to take on small groups of writers and teach them how to critique each other’s work, as well as offering feedback of their own. I came away from the workshop with largely positive feelings, and the other authors who participated did as well. After the convention, we suggested keeping the group going through a private online workshop, which grew into Anticipation, named after the convention where it all started. One of the authors who was key in making this happen was Barry King.

A few weeks ago, one of the members of our workshop reached out to the Anticipation workshop group to let us know that Barry had passed away.

Barry was young. He was full of life and energy. He was one of those people who seemed like he would always be there. Until he wasn’t, and I still can’t quite believe he’s gone.

I didn’t have the chance to meet Barry in person at that first con in Montreal. We became friends through the workshop, and stayed in touch even after I drifted away from the group. We swapped critiques. I followed his blog with interest, always eager to see his latest efforts in macro photography, or read about his cooking adventures. Both his parents (I believe) were diplomats, and he grew up everywhere. He was passionate about a great many subjects, and could talk intelligently and at length about any and all of them – history, politics, philosophy, music, and, of course, writing. I finally got to meet Barry and his wife at Readercon three years ago. We kept running into each other in the hallways, and as always seems to happen at cons, we never found the time to sit down properly and have a drink or a meal together. I regret that even more now.

Barry wrote strange, wonderful, densely layered stories. The kind of stories that stick with you long after you finish reading them. In my co-editoral capacity, I was lucky enough to publish two of those stories at Unlikely Story: Those Who Gave Their Island to Survive and Something in Our Minds Will Always Stay. Other of his works can be found at Crossed Genres, Ideomancer, and Lackington’s among other places.

Even though the members of the Anticipation Workshop have largely gone their separate ways now, we wanted to do something as a group to honor Barry’s memory. He was a giving writer, and we decided a scholarship to a writing workshop in his name would be most appropriate. We chose Alpha Workshop, an eleven day residential workshop for teens 14-19 to learn the craft of writing genre fiction from established pros. The Barry King Memorial Scholarship will provide need-based funding to help a young writer (or writers) attend Alpha. Preference will be given to Canadians, in honor of Barry’s chosen home. Anyone interested in donating can do so here. Follow the paypal link, and make sure to put ‘Barry King Memorial Scholarship’ in the note to seller field so they know where to direct the funds. If you know a teen who might be interested in attending Alpha, point them here. The application process for 2016 hasn’t opened up yet, but it will soon.

A legacy helping a new generation of SF/F/H writers hone their craft  – I think Barry would have approved.

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