Barton Welcomes Wilson Writers for Victor R. Small Writers Series

Wilson, N.C. – Barton College will welcome Wilson writers Merry Simmons, a science fiction author and realtor; Willis Briley, a poet, playwright, freelance writer, film writer, director, and producer; and Lucien Stark, a novelist and educator, for the upcoming Victor R. Small Writers Series this fall semester.

The program is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 19, at 7:30 p.m., and will be held in The Sam and Marjorie Ragan Writing Center on campus.  This event is open to the public at no charge, and the community is invited to attend.

Simmons has a varied background, earning degrees in English from Southern Methodist University and then teaching English for 15 years until she switched to a career in real estate, “realizing that more people wanted houses than grammar.” She is currently a realtor with First Wilson Properties. Developing as a writer later in life, she has had many stories appear in “Asimov’s Science Fiction” and “Paradox Magazine.” Her first published short story, “Magpie,” was the Grand Prize Winner in “Writers of the Future XVII.” Three of her tales have made the initial ballot for the Hugo Award presented by the Science Fiction Writers of America.  Her most recent story, “The Well of Forgetting,” is forthcoming in “Realms of Fantasy.”

Briley grew up in Wilson, graduated from Davidson College, and did graduate studies at New York University. In the U.S. Army, he began a career in film and eventually joined Craven Films in New York as writer, producer, and director of educational, instructional, and motivational films for National Geographic, The United Nations, The Office of the Oceanographer, all branches of the United States Military, the United Negro College Fund, and the Federal Reserve Board. Many of these films won awards. His play, “The Street of Yellow Echoes,” was the runner-up in the 2000 Paul Green Playwriting Competition judged by Ken Howard. He is currently at work on the poetry collection “Quadrants.”

Stark is a native of Wilson with degrees in English from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Virginia. After 25 years of teaching, he retired and returned to Wilson to live. Currently, he is out of retirement and in his second year of teaching at Greenfield School. He won accolades as a teacher and appeared in Who’s Who Among American Teachers six times. His first novel, “The Noise Upstairs,” was published in 2005, and he has just completed his second novel, “The Principal Said NO: A Week of Hell.”

This program is sponsored by the Department of English and Modern Languages.  For additional information, please contact Dr. Kathy James, chair of the Department of English and Modern Languages, at 252-399-6455 or email:


Questions?  Please contact Kathy Daughety, director of public relations, at 252-399-6529 or email: