Author Spotlight: Steven King
Article By: Riley Vaughn
Supernatural and Horror
61 Novels and 200 Short Stories Published
There are many great writers out there that have made their way into just about every household, store, and library. There are names that are synonymous with literature, names like Shakespeare, Twain, Tolkien, and Dickens. However, many of these classic writers are just that, they are classic and they are established in another time. That’s not to say that more modern writers have not made their way into the spotlight. Today we think of names like Rowling, Martin, and the focus of my writing today, the great Stephen King.
King’s interest in writing and horror began when he was quite young with his discovery of H.P. Lovecraft’s short story, The Lurker in the Shadows. He would later begin writing for fun at school, and would eventually contribute to his brothers self published newspaper, Dave’s Rag. King would also have a number of short stories published in multiple fanzines, which are unofficial publications created by fans of a particular genre.
King would go on to attend the University of Maine in 1966. He would write for the student newspaper, The Maine Campus, while pursuing a degree in English. The title of his column was Steve King’s Garbage Truck. He wrote for the school paper until he graduated in 1970 and in the same year his daughter Naomi was born.
While attending college King truly began his professional writing career with his creation of the short story, The Glass Floor, which was then published in Startling Mystery Stories in 1967. After school King would go on to teach in order to pay the bills, but would still write when he had the chance. During this time, King had a number of other short stories published in a variety of magazines.
He wouldn’t truly find success until his novel Carrie was picked up by the publishing company Double Day in 1973. Carrie was actually King’s fourth novel, but it was his first to be published. The novel began as a short story, but King struggled greatly with writing it. He even went so far as to throw the story in the garbage, but fortunately King’s wife Tabitha retrieved it and encouraged him to finish it. With her help he was able to adapt the short story into a novel and better write from the perspective of a young woman. Thanks to her would go on to complete the book, and with it came the break he needed to begin his lifelong career.
King received a 2500 dollar advance for Carrie and with it he purchased a brand new Ford Pinto. Later that year another company, New American Library, would purchase the paperback rights to the novel for 400,000 dollars.The novel would later be made into a successful horror film in 1976. The success of Carrie was a huge boost for King and really set his career in motion.
Now that he had found success King really began to churn out great work. He published Salem’s Lot in 1975 and then The Shining in 1977. King has said that his inspiration for The Shining came when his family moved to Colorado after his mother’s death. In 1982 King published a collection of short stories called Different Seasons. This collection is especially famous because many of the stories contained would be turned into very well renowned films. The first was Stand by Me which was adapted from his story The Body, the second was Shawshank Redemption from Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, and lastly was Apt Pupil. Something interesting that I found was that the events of Stand by Me were actually inspired by true events from King’s own childhood. At a young age one of King’s childhood friends was struck and killed by a train. King says he has no memory of it, but says that his parents said he was silent and in shock one day after coming home from playing outside. They wouldn’t hear of the boys death until later.
King’s career continued to take off as he wrote more and more books, so much so that he wanted to perform a little experiment. King decided that he would write a number of books under a variety of pseudonyms. This way King could prove to himself that it wasn’t just his own fame wasn’t an accident or by sheer luck. Under this experiment king would write a number of books including The Running Man and Rage under the name, Richard Bachman.
However, this experiment was not to last as an especially perceptive bookstore clerk, Steve Brown, began to draw similarities between King and Bachman’s works. He then confirmed his suspicions at the Library of Congress, which had documents naming King as the author of one of Bachman’s works. After he was found out King, having a good sense of humor, made a press release that announced the “death” of Bachman by “cancer of the pseudonym”. King has even used Richard Bachman as inspiration for another book called The Dark Half, about a pseudonym turning on its writer.
King’s approach to writing is fairly simple. He has quoted with saying that “Read and write 4-6 hours a day. If one cannot find time for that, you can’t expect to be a good writer”. He personally sets out to write 2000 words a day and will not stop writing until he has reached his goal. King has also said that writing stories is his purpose in life and that he can’t see himself doing anything else with his life. Through his methods King has written countless successful books and won numerous awards including a lifetime achievement award from the National Book Awards.
Today King lives with his wife Tabitha, who is also a novelist, in Maine. They have three children, a daughter and two sons. Their daughter Naomi is a unitarian minister and their two sons, Owen and Joseph, are both authors. King and his wife spend their time between their three houses, two in Maine and one in Florida. He is still writing vigorously to this very day and putting out new books almost yearly.
Many of Stephen King's works can be bought directly from The Book Bundler in a variety of bundles. His books are definitely more mature in their subject matter and are only recommended for people who like suspense, horror, and aren’t afraid of some graphic detail.