A great person died last week. Her name was Karen Jones and she was my friend.
I heard the news Saturday night when I was heading out to the World Fantasy Convention Art Show Reception. Jennifer Heddle phoned me and let me know. It was a shock, to say the least. She introduced me to Karen at the World Science Fiction Convention in 2002, and they were very good friends for the better part of two decades.
Rather than dwell on Karen’s death, I want her to be remembered for the good that she brought. She had an infectious smile and laugh, and for several years, a group of us including Chris Roberson, Allison Baker, Lou Anders, Paul Cornell, Jen Heddle, Alan Beatts, Jude Feldman, and Karen were a rolling ‘rat pack’ of sorts that banded together at more conventions than I can count (shoutout to Joe McCabe and Jess Nevins, as well). We were all building pro careers in various publishing capacities, whether it be as editors, illustrators, writers, retailers, or publishers — all of us it seemed, except Karen.
She was a voracious reader and connoisseur of film, TV and video games, and she wasn’t chasing a career in publishing. She was simply one of us. She was strong, quietly confident and true to herself. I think it was Chris that once said Karen was the smartest one amongst all of us, and it was true. I don’t know what Karen’s IQ was, but if one of us was officially ‘genius’, it was her, without a doubt. She never flaunted. She was unabashedly geek-proud, passionate about the things and people she loved. She brought joy wherever she went, and I’ll always remember her for that.
She may not have been chasing a career in the arts or publishing back then, but lo and behold, in recent years, she ended up becoming the art director for Lightspeed Magazine, once again proving how diverse her talents were.
She was funny. She was brilliant. She was luminous.
You will not be forgotten, Karen.
(pictured above: (l to r) Jennifer Heddle, Karen Jones at the 2002 World Fantasy Convention)