Clarion West incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 1986, with workshop alumni and other interested members of the science fiction community forming its first Board of Directors. With the help of many dedicated volunteers and a core of committed professional staff, Clarion West has produced some of science fiction and fantasy’s top writers and editors. Graduates have received every major form of recognition in the field, including the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards.
We support emerging and underrepresented voices by providing writers with world-class instruction to empower their creation of wild and amazing worlds. Through conversation and public engagement, we bring those voices to an ever-expanding community.
Our vision is to set emerging and underrepresented writers on the path to success by fostering greater equity and inclusion in the speculative fiction world, bringing quality speculative fiction to light, and bringing writers and readers together.
Speculative fiction—science fiction, fantasy, horror, magic realism, and slipstream—gives voice to those who explore societal and technological change, along with deeper considerations of underlying archetypes of human experience. Although there are fine science fiction and fantasy writers of all ethnicities, races, and genders, historically the field has reflected the same prejudices found in the culture around it, leading to proportionately fewer successful writers of color and women writers than white male writers. Within the limitations of the workshop, Clarion West is dedicated to improving those proportions.
In 1970, Vonda N. McIntyre attended the last Clarion workshop held in Clarion, Pennsylvania. The following year, with the blessings of Robin Scott Wilson, the founder of Clarion, she held a Clarion-style workshop in Seattle, called Clarion West. The workshop was a success, so she did it again in 1972, when J.T. Stewart was one of the students, and again in 1973. In 1984, the current incarnation of Clarion West was founded by J.T. Stewart and Marilyn J. Holt, with Vonda’s advice and inspiration. The workshop has been run as an independent nonprofit organization since 1986 (recognized by the IRS in 1987).
A short history of the Clarion Workshop:
Robin Scott Wilson attended Damon Knight & Kate Wilhelm’s Milford Writers Workshop in the mid-1960’s. Milford was a peer workshop—only active, published SFF writers were invited. Robin realized it could be adapted as a student workshop. The Clarion Writers Workshop ran for three years—1968, 1969, 1970—at Clarion State College in Clarion, Pennsylvania. While Clarion West was forming officially and running annually in Seattle, the original Clarion moved to Michigan State University and ran from 1972 through 2006. In 2007 Clarion relocated to the University of California, San Diego and has been running workshops annually since.
The Clarion West and Clarion workshops are independently run. Applicants are encouraged to apply concurrently to Clarion and Clarion West, which operate on similar schedules.
Support & Scholarships
Clarion West is honored to receive support from a broad and diverse group of organizations. This support, along with individual donations, enables the organization to fulfill its mission.
- Amazon Literary Partnership
- Carl Brandon Society
- Seattle Office of Arts & Culture Seattle Public Library
- Science Fiction Writers of America
Clarion West receives generous scholarship and instructorship support in honor/memory of the following individuals:
- Elliot Alexander
- Michael Alexander
- Poul and Karen Anderson
- Mark Bourne
- Octavia E. Butler
- Gordon R. Dickson
- Leslie Howle
- Sally Klages
- Susan C. Petrey
- Donald A. and Elsie B. Wollheim
The following businesses have generously supported the 2019 Write-a-thon:
Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour
Dr. Thomas Bridgman, DDS
Pegasus Book Exchange