Rage Against the Night – An Anthology to Benefit Rocky Wood
Under the onslaught of supernatural evil, the acts of good people can seem insignificant, but a courageous few stand apart. These brave men and women stand up to the darkness, stare it right in the eye, and give it the finger. These are the stories of those who rage against the night, stories of triumph, sacrifice, and bravery in the face of overwhelming evil.
Rocky Wood – Bram Stoker Award™-winning author, Stephen King scholar, and president of the Horror Writers Association – is one of the bravest men I know. Diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, Rocky has nonetheless set out to redefine the Horror Writers Association as the inclusive voice of the horror community. From his home inAustralia, Rocky travels the world, attending many conventions each year, in order to foster that sense of community among writers, publishers, agents and other industry professionals.
I call him the bravest man I know because he towers above the obstacles in his way, not only the ALS, which is a mountain of an obstacle in and of itself, but also the headstrong egos and maddening politics that always seem to plague groups of creative people. He is a model of teamwork, relentless energy, and above all, vision. In just a few short years he has created a legacy in the HWA that will define the organization for decades to come. Positive change and a spirit of renewed enthusiasm follow him everywhere. For all those reasons, I am in awe of him, and for all those reasons, I am honored to call him my friend.
So, imagine my surprise – and pleasure! – when Shane Jiraiya Cummings contacted me about donating a story for an anthology to help Rocky Wood with some of his medical expenses. I couldn’t say yes fast enough! “What’s the theme?” I asked. “How soon do you need it?”
Shane’s idea was a collection of stories showcasing good triumphing over evil. He said it was the perfect testament to Rocky, and I agreed on the spot.
The story I sent Shane was “The Gunner’s Love Song,” one of my earliest. In it, a young man comes home toEast Texasshortly after World War II to find his cousin, who has a heavy speech impediment and a reputation for being a little slow, suddenly villainized by their town because of his romance with a woman rumored to be a werewolf.
Fans of Manly Wade Wellman will undoubtedly see my influences shining through in this story; and believe me, I had a hard time resisting the urge to go back through the tale and “clean it up a bit,” to sort of buff out the obvious Wellman touches. But I resisted because “The Gunner’s Love Song” has something special to it. It has a lot of Wellman, to be sure, but it has a lot of me, too. In fact, it was the first time I remember feeling my own voice surging through in the fiction. The story is genuine. It’s a little raw, perhaps, but it’s me, and I see in this story the elements that would take hold and grow in my later fiction: themes like a sense of optimism that’s been tested and tempered by trial and the importance of good guardianship.
In short, the story worked for me, and when I sent it to Shane, he agreed.
Apparently he really agreed, for he chose it as the lead-off story in a collection that features an amazing roster of creative talent. Check out this table of contents:
The Gunner’s Love Song—Joe McKinney
Keeping Watch—Nate Kenyon
Like Part of the Family—Jonathan Maberry
The Edge of Seventeen—Alexandra Sokoloff
The View from the Top—Bev Vincent
Afterward, There Will Be a Hallway—Gary A. Braunbeck
Following Marla—John R. Little
Magic Numbers—Gene O’Neill
Tail the Barney—Stephen M. Irwin
The Nightmare Dimension—David Conyers
Roadside Memorials—Joseph Nassise
Dat Tay Vao—F. Paul Wilson
Mr. Aickman’s Air Rifle—Peter Straub
Agatha’s Ghost—Ramsey Campbell
Blue Heeler—Weston Ochse
Sarah’s Visions—Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
More Than Words—David Niall Wilson
Dead Air—Gary Kemble
Two Fish to Feed the Masses—Daniel G. Keohane
Fenstad’s End—Sarah Langan
Fair Extension—Stephen King
Rocky Wood, Skeleton Killer—Jeff Strand
And to you, Rocky – you’re the best, my friend!