Obituary Note: Stuart Woods

Stuart Woods

Stuart Woods, the bestselling and prolific author who "had an outsized personality, craved adventure, and gloried in the thrill of life," died July 22, according to his publisher  Putnam. He was 84. His 1981 fiction debut, Chiefs, established Woods as a novelist. He went on to publish more than 90 novels, writing five books a year. His memoir, An Extravagant Life, was published last month. Putnam will release Black Dog, the 62nd book in the detective-turned-lawyer-investigator Stone Barrington series, on August 2; and Distant Thunder, the 63rd book in the series, on October 11.

Born and raised in Georgia, Woods moved to New York in 1960 to pursue a career as a journalist, eventually landing at an advertising agency, where he worked for a decade before relocating to London for three years to work for a British ad agency. In 1973, he moved to Galway, Ireland, and began to write his first novel. "I was about a hundred pages into the book when I discovered sailing," Woods wrote on his website. "Everything went to hell. All I did was sail."

In 1976, he competed in the Observer Single-handed Trans-Atlantic Race, after which he returned to Georgia and wrote his first book--Blue Water, Green Skipper--a nonfiction account of his OSTAR experience. When Norton acquired the American rights to the book, it also agreed to publish Chiefs, which CBS eventually turned it into a six-hour TV movie starring Charlton Heston, Danny Glover and Billy Dee Williams. Chiefs also won the Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America. In 2010, Woods received the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière for Imperfect Strangers.

He continued to sail throughout his career and was a licensed, instrument-rated private pilot who flew regularly around the country on his many book tours. 

Woods was also committed to the Authors Guild, becoming a member in 1977, serving on the foundation board from 2004-2021 and the advisory board since 2021. The organization's president, Douglas Preston, said, "Stuart's support of young writers was legendary. Over 30 years ago, when I was an unknown writer with one modest book to my credit, Stuart took me under his wing, helped me find an agent, and was incredibly generous with advice and encouragement. He later dragged me, somewhat unwillingly, onto the board of the Authors Guild, which also transformed my life. He was a huge presence in the book world. We will deeply miss him."

Nick Taylor, Woods's long-time friend and past AG president, added: "Stuart was a dear friend, and one of the most generous people you'd ever hope to meet. He lived life on his own terms, and what a life!"

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