The King

What can I say about Stephen King that hasn’t already been said by basically everyone?  I mean seriously, the man is just amazing.  He was my gateway to horror.  My parents weren’t big horror movie fans, so I got my fix through reading.  My first King book was Salem’s Lot.  Totally scared the shit out of me.  I don’t remember how old I was when I read it.  All I know is that his intent was to scare people and it absolutely worked.

Unfortunately for me, the first thing of King’s that I actually watched was the TV movie IT.  First of all, in case I haven’t already mentioned it, I hate clowns!!!  Second of all….really Tim Curry? Really???  His Pennywise was, and remains to this day, the absolute scariest clown in the history of scary clowns!  And that’s saying a lot!  Have you ever seen the original Ronald McDonald?  Don’t look it up if you’re afraid of clowns.  The movie as a whole didn’t scare me all that much, but Pennywise?  ‘Nuff said.

For someone who is so good at writing so many horrific things, I have never heard anyone say a bad thing about him. Devoted family man, dog owner, and all around good guy. So then where do all the horror stories come from?  There is a theory: When he was a boy, he apparently saw one of his friends killed by a train. He doesn’t remember it, but his family said that when he got home that day, he was speechless and in shock. His family didn’t know what was wrong and didn’t find out about the accident until later. Some people think that this may have been the psychological influence behind his stories. King said that he once found an old book of H.P. Lovecraft’s short stories in the attic that used to belong to his father, and “I knew that I’d found home when I read that book.”

Whether it was a childhood trauma, a found book, or just creative genius – here he is decades after his first novel Carrie was published in 1974, and he is still the master of horror.  That’s why after I recovered from Salem’s Lot, I went back for more. I can’t say that I’ve loved every one of his books, nor have I read them all, but I’ve read (and occasionally re-read), most of them. When I was younger I would get annoyed trying to skim the wordy parts, just to get to the good stuff. But you know what they say….the devil is in the details!  And the details are what sets Stephen King apart from the rest. He is a storyteller. 

He is a master at detail. If you’re the type of person that can get lost in a book, he’s the one to do it. He doesn’t leave out a thing. By the time he finishes describing where a story takes place, you can see every inch of it in your mind. You end up knowing the characters inside and out. And on top of that he will both terrify you and gross you out. Possibly both in the same book! I am a fan of a lot of authors, don’t get me wrong. There have been many books over the years that have low key kept me awake at night. But he’s always been able to draw me into a story more than any other author has.

He also keeps his characters real. Average, small town families, nerdy kids, and unpopular teens trying to fit in. When you read his books you’re bound to find a character that you understand. He deals with things that we can all relate to in one way or another.  They have money troubles. Some are alcoholics or raised by bad and abusive parents. They’ve been bullied or had school difficulties. Or even physical or health issues. There’s someone for everyone in his books. Although hopefully none of us have an evil clown living in the sewer!

He used his own life experiences in his stories. Many of his main characters are successful authors, like Paul Sheldon in Misery, Thad Beaumont in The Dark Half, Ben Mears in Salem’s Lot, and Jack Torrance in The Shining, just to name a few.  And of course they’re all going through it for one reason or another! He even used his experience of having a serious car accident for the main character in Duma Key. King had struggles with addiction over the years, and even that shows up in various forms in his novels. (Can I get you a drink, Mr. Torrance?)

There’s not a place in the world that Stephen King loves more than Maine! The majority of his books are set in Maine, in both real and fictional towns.  And he apparently gets attached to some of his characters. If you pay attention, you can find some of his characters making appearances in more than one book. The one that comes to mind is Sheriff Pangborn, who was in both Needful Things and The Dark Half. And in case you didn’t already know this, pay close attention when you watch a Stephen King movie.  You never know when he’s gonna make an appearance.

Now that I’ve finished gushing over him, here are a few fun facts you may not know:

  • He used to publish stories under the name Richard Bachman, until someone found out. He stopped using it after he was found out.  He published several other Bachman books after that, claiming that the author had written them before he died.  The cause of death? Cancer of the Pseudonym. 
  • He has triskaidekaphobia (fear of the number 13)
  • He is a HUGE fan of The Ramones.
  • He and his wife, Tabitha, own three radio stations.
  • He hated the movie adaptation of The Shining and was not happy about Jack Nicolson being cast as Jack Torrance.
  • He threw out the book Carrie after he wrote it, but his wife took it out of the garbage and convinced him to try and have it published.
  • He was hurt on a plane during extreme turbulence and is now afraid of flying. (me too!)

My parents weren’t big horror movie fans, so I got my fix through reading.  My first King book was Salem’s Lot.  Totally scared the shit out of me.  I don’t remember how old I was when I read it.  All I know is that his intent was to scare people and it absolutely worked.

Unfortunately for me, the first thing of King’s that I actually watched was the TV movie IT.  First of all, in case I haven’t already mentioned it, I hate clowns!!!  Second of all….really Tim Curry? Really???  His Pennywise was, and remains to this day, the absolute scariest clown in the history of scary clowns!  And that’s saying a lot!  Have you ever seen the original Ronald McDonald?  Don’t look it up if you’re afraid of clowns.  The movie as a whole didn’t scare me all that much, but Pennywise?  ‘Nuff said.

For someone who is so good at writing so many horrific things, I have never heard anyone say a bad thing about him. Devoted family man, dog owner, and all around good guy. So then where do all the horror stories come from?  There is a theory: When he was a boy, he apparently saw one of his friends killed by a train. He doesn’t remember it, but his family said that when he got home that day, he was speechless and in shock. His family didn’t know what was wrong and didn’t find out about the accident until later. Some people think that this may have been the psychological influence behind his stories. King said that he once found an old book of H.P. Lovecraft’s short stories in the attic that used to belong to his father, and “I knew that I’d found home when I read that book.”

Whether it was a childhood trauma, a found book, or just creative genius – here he is decades after his first novel Carrie was published in 1974, and he is still the master of horror.  That’s why after I recovered from Salem’s Lot, I went back for more. I can’t say that I’ve loved every one of his books, nor have I read them all, but I’ve read (and occasionally re-read), most of them. When I was younger I would get annoyed trying to skim the wordy parts, just to get to the good stuff. But you know what they say….the devil is in the details!  And the details are what sets Stephen King apart from the rest. He is a storyteller. 

He is a master at detail. If you’re the type of person that can get lost in a book, he’s the one to do it. He doesn’t leave out a thing. By the time he finishes describing where a story takes place, you can see every inch of it in your mind. You end up knowing the characters inside and out. And on top of that he will both terrify you and gross you out. Possibly both in the same book! I am a fan of a lot of authors, don’t get me wrong. There have been many books over the years that have low key kept me awake at night. But he’s always been able to draw me into a story more than any other author has.

He also keeps his characters real. Average, small town families, nerdy kids, and unpopular teens trying to fit in. When you read his books you’re bound to find a character that you understand. He deals with things that we can all relate to in one way or another.  They have money troubles. Some are alcoholics or raised by bad and abusive parents. They’ve been bullied or had school difficulties. Or even physical or health issues. There’s someone for everyone in his books. Although hopefully none of us have an evil clown living in the sewer!

He used his own life experiences in his stories. Many of his main characters are successful authors, like Paul Sheldon in Misery, Thad Beaumont in The Dark Half, Ben Mears in Salem’s Lot, and Jack Torrance in The Shining, just to name a few.  And of course they’re all going through it for one reason or another! He even used his experience of having a serious car accident for the main character in Duma Key. King had struggles with addiction over the years, and even that shows up in various forms in his novels. (Can I get you a drink, Mr. Torrance?)

There’s not a place in the world that Stephen King loves more than Maine! The majority of his books are set in Maine, in both real and fictional towns.  And he apparently gets attached to some of his characters. If you pay attention, you can find some of his characters making appearances in more than one book. The one that comes to mind is Sheriff Pangborn, who was in both Needful Things and The Dark Half. And in case you didn’t already know this, pay close attention when you watch a Stephen King movie.  You never know when he’s gonna make an appearance.

Now that I’ve finished gushing over him, here are a few fun facts you may not know:

  • He used to publish stories under the name Richard Bachman, until someone found out. He stopped using it after he was found out.  He published several other Bachman books after that, claiming that the author had written them before he died.  The cause of death? Cancer of the Pseudonym. 
  • He has triskaidekaphobia (fear of the number 13)
  • He is a HUGE fan of The Ramones.
  • He and his wife, Tabitha, own three radio stations.
  • He hated the movie adaptation of The Shining and was not happy about Jack Nicolson being cast as Jack Torrance.
  • He threw out the book Carrie after he wrote it, but his wife took it out of the garbage and convinced him to try and have it published.
  • He was hurt on a plane during extreme turbulence and is now afraid of flying. (me too!)