Rocky Wood (1959–2014) was the fifteenth president of the Horror Writers Association (HWA). Rocky passed away as a result of complications from Motor Neurone Disease (MND), also known as ALS and Lou Gehrig’s disease, on 1 December 2014. He was first diagnosed with the progressive disease in October 2010. No one expected him to leave us so quickly.
After first serving on the HWA Trustee Board, Rocky stepped into the role of president in 2010, the same year he was diagnosed with MND. He took an association and raised it to a membership of over 1500 professional and emerging writers. He brought in processes and volunteers that made the HWA the thriving and vital institution it is today. He did this during a time when the publishing world was floundering with the introduction of eBooks and new print publishing models, when the whole scene was given the biggest shakeup since the Guttenberg press was introduced. Rocky introduced a skill of management that saw the association thrive, and was re-elected for his second term of presidency without any real challenge.
Rocky was a journalist, a non-fiction writer, a true scholar of the Stephen King universe, and a powerful and focused mind. He was happy to spend time helping out new writers, and was a passionate sports fan, especially when it came to the New Zealand All Blacks. One thing you could always count on; Rocky would be watching any rugby match his team played, and you would certainly hear his views on how he thought they went.
Rocky Wood is my friend. He will always be my friend, even though I will never talk with him again. Rocky loved the HWA, and did his very best by it, often working twelve-hour days for the love of the association. He never complained, he never slacked off, and he never let anyone down. He was a much-loved son, a loving father and grandfather, and a wonderful, caring friend. He always greeted people with enthusiasm and gave his all for his friends, his associates, his association, and the charities he supported. He truly cared.
I was privileged to help with an auction to raise money for his Eye-Gaze Device, for when he would be affected to the degree that he could no longer communicate in any other way, and with the help of the Australian Horror Writers Association, along with a small but dedicated band of volunteers, we raised over $20,000 to pay for the device. Rocky had always said that once he passed, the machine should be donated to another MND sufferer.
Even though Rocky was more recently affected to the point where he could no longer communicate effectively without his iPad, he still thought of others more than himself, constantly driving charity fundraisers for Motor Neurone Disease Australia, as well as for his favourite animal charity Ingrid’s Haven, a no-kill rescue shelter for cats. He never complained about his own situation, just grinned and said MND would have to work harder to kick his arse.
This was Rocky… a man who always thought of ways to help others before he thought of himself.
I feel honoured to have known him, and to call him a friend for as long as I did. I only wish it could have been longer.
You are in a better place now, my friend, and we will never forget you. Never.
May you find your own Dark Tower, sai, for there are other worlds than these.
Rocky Wood was the author of several Stephen King non-fiction books about the author, including his most recent Stephen King: Uncollected, Unpublished 2014 Update.