Horror Writers Association Blog

Statement from Lisa Morton, Acting President of HWA, about Rocky Wood

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rocky_woodYou all know by now that we lost HWA’s President Rocky Wood on December 1, due to complications from ALS. Rocky was diagnosed with this terrible disease in October 2010, and the extraordinary courage and grace he demonstrated in living with his ailments was a true inspiration.

Many things about Rocky were inspiring. Glancing over social media today, dozens of people mention his kindness; he was always generous with his time and eager to help newer writers. He was a champion of women’s rights, he worked with local animal shelters, and he was always the first to donate to friends’ charity efforts. As an author, he was gifted with extraordinary talents for research and for presenting non-fiction in a way that made it as enthralling as any thriller. He always denied that he possessed any skills in writing fiction, but his two graphic novels – Horrors! Great Stories of Fear and Their Creators and Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times – displayed enough lyricism and compelling characterizations that I suspect there was a great fiction writer lurking in there as well. He was a loving father and grandfather, an enthusiastic sports fan, and the sort of good friend who always asked how you were doing first (and was genuinely interested in the answer).

I suspect Rocky will be most remembered for his Stephen King scholarship – he was absolutely right to suggest that King is our modern Dickens or Twain, and that future scholars will be deeply appreciative of his work – but there’s no question that his time as HWA’s leader has had a tremendous impact on the organization and the lives of many involved with it. When Rocky took office, he brought an absolute genius for management and structure, to say nothing of a dedication to the work that saw him routinely putting in twelve-hour days. He wasn’t content to simply build on the successes of earlier administrations; I think it’s not an exaggeration to say that he re-imagined HWA as a vital, expanding corporation. He put in place policies and documentation and a volunteer force of around 180, he added not just events but the sponsorships that would help us pay for them, he created scholarships and the highly successful “Horror Selfies” campaign, he got us set up as part of the Authors Coalition and SFWA’s “Writer Beware” blog, and so much more.

I had the great pleasure and privilege of serving as Rocky’s Vice President for the last two-and-a-half years. I am so proud of being part of HWA’s accomplishments during that time. It was often difficult – especially while also working through my own writing and personal commitments – to keep up with the demands, but Rocky inspired that kind of dedication in many of us.
If you think it’s just a little bit daunting for me to now step into the Presidential shoes, you’d be right…but I also consider it an honor to continue on with all the great work Rocky started. Because he was such a master at organization, he’s left behind manuals and instructions and a trained corps of volunteers, and together we look forward to continuing his legacy.
I’m pleased to say that multiple award-winning and New York Times-bestselling author Nancy Holder has agreed to serve as Vice President. Nancy has been involved with HWA for decades and will bring a wealth of experience and innovation to the job. Nancy is on vacation this week, but asked me to convey this message:

“In this extremely sad time, I am so grateful to Rocky for all he has done for HWA and all those he touched with his dedication, his compassion, and his true love of the horror community. As Lisa Morton steps in to fill these large shoes, I will do everything I possibly can to help her. I thank her for her trust in me, and I am ready to be of service.”

I’m also thrilled to announce the creation of the Rocky Wood Memorial Scholarship Fund for Nonfiction Writing. We’ll soon be announcing specifics of this exciting new scholarship, which joins our existing Horror Writers Association and Mary Shelley Scholarships. I can’t think of a better tribute to Rocky’s memory, and I’m grateful to our treasurer Leslie Klinger for suggesting this and offering to set it up.

In concluding, let me just add my own goals for HWA: I look forward to making the organization as inclusive as possible, as responsive to the needs of the horror genre and community, and as beneficial to our members as they could hope it to be. I’d also like to announce herewith that I am removing my works from consideration for the Bram Stoker Awards®, and will continue to do so as long as I serve as the organization’s President. This is a purely personal decision on my part, and should not be construed as indicating a policy of any sort. I encourage future Presidents to make their work available for awards recognition, but for me it’s simply not an option I’m comfortable with (and I apologize to my publishers, who I consider partners in my books and who I know this decision affects as well).

My door will always be open to suggestions and ideas; if I’m sometimes late in responding, I apologize in advance. Thanks in no small part to Rocky Wood, it’s a big organization and a big job to serve as its President, but I have his outstanding example to motivate and inspire me. I’m sure his inspiration is going to continue to serve many of us for years to come.

—Lisa Morton
lisa@lisamorton.com

Rocky’s family requests no flowers, but if you would like to contribute something in his honor we know he would have appreciated donations made to MND Australia or Ingrid’s Haven:

You can leave your thoughts and memories of Rocky at his website’s guestbook.

7 comments on “Statement from Lisa Morton, Acting President of HWA, about Rocky Wood

  1. Lisa – your attitude is tremendous. It is filled with courage and responsibility. Your continued support to accept this mantle – I know – makes Rocky very happy. Rocky inspired me to return to membership in the Horror Writers Association. He encouraged me, applauded my triumphs, through my strange acts of boldness and my eccentric demonstrations of character. He made me want to do more. And I did. I will continue to expand my capacities – for Rocky – and for all of you our writing community – as well as for myself. Today the postman delivered a package Rocky had been waiting for since the end of August. It was heartrending when the package arrived. I took a deep breath. . . God Bless Rocky Wood and may he Rest In Peace.

  2. Rocky will be sorely missed, but his legacy will continue through the good people of the HWA who have had the honor of knowing him and the privilege of serving the organization under his tutelage. I have faith that we can carry on from here with the grace and dignity that he always displayed. Thank you, Lisa, for your dedication and courage in accepting his large shoes to fill.

  3. I have known Rocky for 39 years and I truly believe that, aside from his family, it was the love and friendship of his many, many colleagues and fellow writers in HWA who helped to sustain him and kept him active and engaged with life since his diagnosis with MND.

    Much has been said about Rocky’s generosity and legacy in the past week but I would like to pay a deep and personal tribute to each and every one of you. Thank you for everything you have done to support this beautiful soul over the past few years, and for everything you have pledged to continue to do in his memory.

    As our tears and memories flow, thank you

  4. Oh no! I didn’t know this. I’m so sorry to hear Rocky is gone. I never met him but any time I had a query he would email me back within the hour and always was helpful. Sad to lose someone who did so much. My condolences to Rocky’s family and for the profession for which Rocky did so much.

  5. Hi Lisa, Thank you for stepping in to lead our group. I am deeply saddened to hear about Rocky. What a great friend he was to all of us and he had a lasting impact on my career for which I will always be grateful. Wishing you great success in your new role.

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