Writing is lonely. The act itself often requires you to separate yourself from this world, and plug into another. You spend hours in front of the keyboard, trying to make the words on the screen as good as the words in your head. Rejection is the norm. And even the most supportive of friends and family often don’t understand the time, the needs and little rituals that are required.
…for example, this here’s my writin’ dress…
The Horror Writers’ Association was started about 25 years ago. They provide support in a number of ways, most notably their annual Bram Stoker awards
, given to authors who have shown superior achievement in horror literature. (2013 Nominees include last week’s interview Grey Matter Publications
and friend of KnippKnopp Gregory Frost
I’m not saying it’s because they interviewed here, but there’s no underestimating how much influence I have with the HWA voters.
…yeah, about that much…
The current president of the HWA, Rocky Wood, has his own intriguing story. He was born a Kiwi and is an Australian citizen (which automatically qualifies him as a badass), he is perhaps the world-wide expert on all things Stephen King, and keeps a full schedule despite a four year battle with ALS (see, I told you he was a badass).
I asked Rocky to share his thoughts on his experience in the writing world, and he graciously accepted. Here is what he had to say:
JK: Stephen King recently wrote some really nice things about you in his author’s notes for Doctor Sleep. What was it like working with the master?
RW: Steve is very easy to work with. He’s what New Englanders call ‘wicked smart’, has a great sense of humor and is as down to earth as anyone I know.
JK: You are president of the Horror Writers Association, why are associations and groups like the HWA and ITW (International Thriller Writers) so important to writers?
RW: Writing is a solitary occupation. Of the perhaps 30 million people in the US who think they have a book ‘in them’ maybe a quarter of a million in that country alone may have self-published in the last year or two. That’s in addition to the traditional routes – mainstream publishers and the specialty press. So, where do all these people go to learn the ropes; associate with like minded writers; network with publishers, editors, agents and other writers; give back and participate and their genre community. Local writers groups are great for support but genre writers will often find themselves on the outer. The power of HWA and similar associations is we provide support, a collegial atmosphere and promotion of our genre specifically. A horror writer will find more support in the HWA than anywhere else, simple as that.
JK: You have been writing on and about horror for almost 40 years. How has the Horror world changed? What does the resurgence of horror on television (Walking Dead, American Horror Story) and movies mean for horror in print?
RW: They are separate markets but of course some screen fans will drift over the print/ebook version of their favorite shows/genres; and many more readers will follow horror on the screen. The zombie wave has not yet subsided in print, despite predictions and I credit The Walking Dead, World War Z and other screen zombie productions for at least part of sustaining that wave. As technology advances there is a convergence – not only in content, but also in taste. And the internet makes it so much easier for readers/viewers/game players to find and enjoy new content, on demand.
The more horror changes the more it stays the same. We are always speaking to the same part of the human psyche.
Of course the market for books has changed immeasurably – where midlist horror writers could sell books in the hundreds of thousands through mass market paperback in the 70s and 80s that publishing route has literally disappeared. But now there are ebooks and self publishing and a channel to new readers. Authors must learn the business of marketing to succeed.
JK: What advice would you give the new writer just starting out?
RW: Read widely. Read every day. Read writers you respect. Write every day. Set a goal to improve your writing every day (Stephen King does, even now, so why not you?). Join a writers group. Get beta readers you respect. Don’t self publish or submit work to publishers until you know the work is properly written, edited and presents you in the best light. Attend specialist writing conventions. Take feedback seriously but respect your own style. Believe in yourself. Write every day. And as King says, ‘Adverbs are not your friend’.
Many thanks to Rocky for taking the time and you’re great insight. You can find more about the Horror Writers’ Association at http://horror.org
, like their page on Facebook
and follow them on Twitter