Rocky Wood lives in Melbourne and is the co-author of three major works about Stephen King, each of which was nominated for the Horror Writers Association’s Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction – ‘Stephen King: Uncollected, Unpublished’, ‘Stephen King: The Non-Fiction’ and ‘Stephen King: The Literary Companion’. The latter won the Bram Stoker Award for 2011.
He is also the author of ‘Horrors! Great Tales of Fear and Their Creators’, a graphic novel illustrated by Glenn Chadbourne, which was shortlisted for a Black Quills Award and nominated for an Aurealis Award; and the upcoming ‘Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times’, a graphic novel co-written with Lisa Morton, and illustrated by Greg Chapman.
He has spoken at numerous conventions, including the SKEMER Con in Estes Park, Colorado (2003); Continuum 3 (2005) and Continuum 4 (2006) in Melbourne; Conflux 3 in Canberra (2006); the 2nd Annual Stephen King Dollar Baby Festival in Bangor, Maine (2005); the World Horror Conventions in Salt Lake City (2008 and 2012) and Austin, Texas (2011); the Bram Stoker Award Weekends in Burbank, California (2009) and Long Island, New York (2011); and Worldcon in Melbourne (2010). He has even addressed Stephen King’s hometown Historical Society about the author’s works and motivations. He has published non-fiction worldwide for the past thirty five years.
Rocky is President of the Horror Writers Association, having served on the Board since 2008 and is also a proud member of the Australian Horror Writers Association.
You’re known as being one of the foremost experts, if not the expert, on the works of Stephen King. When did you first encounter his work, and what was it that captured your interest?
I saw ‘Carrie’ at the movies in 1977. I headed straight for a bookshop to get the book but they didn’t have it. They did have ‘Salem’s Lot’ and the rest, as they say, is history. I’d never read any writer quite like King, and haven’t since. He has a unique voice, the characters were absolutely real (I felt like I knew them, or at least, people just like them), and the story lines compelling. Each book and story built on those reader benefits. Steve has never let me down.
You are currently President of the Horror Writers Association. What do you consider your greatest achievement so far, either personally or collectively? What do you see as the greatest challenges lying ahead for the HWA?
Under achievements our expansion of membership from 400 to 1100 is pleasing as it shows that members are happy with the broad program of the HWA. The expansion of membership provides us with funds to reinvest, for example in buying booths and tables at various festivals and conventions where we can promote our genre, the HWA and our members wares. It also allows us to invest in a wide range of member benefits.
The expansion in membership also gives us many more volunteers to run these programs, for example in the areas of our Young Adult, Library and Poetry outreach programs, our Halloween Haunts and Women in Horror blogs, member discounts, agents listings and so on. I’m particularly proud of the world class conventions we have hosted under my Presidency, including the combination of our Bram Stoker Award (R) Weekend with the World Horror Convention in New Orleans in 2013 and the upcoming combination of the Weekend and the 25th World Horror Convention in Atlanta next year.
As to challenges, we need to maintain our momentum in dozens of areas – hard work for any organisation entirely made up of volunteer members. We need to stay relevant to our members as the publishing industry changes. We need to provide fresh approaches to horror conventions. And we need to do everything in our power to promote the horror genre to an ever growing number of readers and viewers.
You’ve produced a number of acclaimed graphic novels. Are there any more on the horizon? Have you considered any other forms of fiction, or are graphic novels your preference?
I’m in awe of those who write great fiction. Graphic novels are a form I learnt and am grateful for the good reviews they garnered and the Bram Stoker Award Lisa Morton and I won for ‘Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times’. Unfortunately, I suffer from Motor Neurone Disease (ALS in North America) that is severely impacting my ability to type and therefore commit to major projects.
‘Wolf Creek: Origin’ by Greg McLean and Aaron Sterns is a chilling and all too plausible explanation of how Mick Taylor became an implacable serial killer.
Have recent changes in the publishing industry influenced the way you work?
Ebook publishing has expanded my reach and sales (and income). I’ve published (but not self-published) exclusive ebook editions of one book and will publish an update to that book in both ebook and print shortly. I don’t know that the latter would have been published if ebooks weren’t around and so effective as a channel. So, the main influence is on the target market I’m writing for.