American author Stephen King is undoubtedly a pioneer in penning horror fiction. His novels are famous for inducing sheer terror and making you sweat profusely. In addition to contemporary horror and supernatural fiction, he has also written in genres like fantasy, science fiction, and suspense. Not straying far from his specialty has ensured that 350 million copies of his books have sold till date. Many of his books like The Shining, The Shawshank Redemption, and Carrie made it into successful feature film adaptations.
Authors like Richard Matheson, H.P. Lovecraft, Don Robertson, Bram Stoker, Joseph Payne Brennan, John D. MacDonald, and Shirley Jackson have had a profound influence on Stephen King. Yet another author that holds a vise-like grip over King’s affections is Ray Bradbury. King said about Bradbury’s influence: ‘Without Ray Bradbury, there is no Stephen King.’
King’s first story, I Was A Teenage Grave Robber was published in 1965. More than 4 issues of Comics Review carried the story, giving him the much useful impetus. In continuum, King wrote his first novel, Carrie, but trashed it halfway because of his displeasure with the story. King’s wife encouraged him to continue writing it to completion. Thus was born the famous story of the teenage girl with psychic powers.
Stephen King’s repertoire has 54 novels; 6 of these non-fiction books and 7 of these written under the pseudonym, Richard Bachman. The novels include hits like The Shining, The Stand, The Plant, Mr. Mercedes, Desperation, Cell, 11/22/63, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, and Finders, Keepers. He has also written 200 short stories, most of which take place in Stephen King’s home state of Maine.
Stephen King’s works have also been adapted into miniseries, TV shows, and comic books. King’s early tryst with horror started when he showed interest in comic books published by EC Comics. His first written comic book came out in 1985. Called the Heroes for Hope: Starring the X-Men, it was co-written by the likes of Harlan Ellison, Stan Lee, Alan Moore, and Chris Claremont. A self-confessed fan of Batman over Superman, King wrote the introduction to the 400th issue of the Batman comics in 1986. Following this, King inked a seven-issue limited series deal with Marvel for a spin-off of the Dark Tower series called The Gunslinger Born.
In his writing career, King also collaborated with musical artists, designers like Barbara Kruger, and multitalented artists like John Mellencamp from across the world. Artists like AC/DC, Metallica, Anthrax, The Ramones, and also Michael Jackson worked alongside Stephen King to bring stunning music videos to the world.
King’s family is also of published authors. Wife Tabitha King, and sons Joseph Hillstrom King (who writes under the pseudonym Joe Hill), and Owen King have had successful careers in writing.
The Accident That Almost Ended His Career:
In 1999, Stephen King met with an accident as he was walking on a street in Lovell, Maine. A car hit him from behind and threw him on the ground 4 meters away. He suffered multiple fractures and serious injuries. This led to King becoming frustrated with his writing that had taken a dip in pace because of the discomfort in sitting that it caused, and reduced concentration and stamina. Thankfully, he recovered, slowly and steadily, and has since published a number of books including 8 story collections and nonfiction books.
Stephen King’s Mantra For Writing:
‘Read and write four to six hours a day. If you cannot find the time for that, you can’t expect to become a good writer.’
And his definition of talent is something every writer can take heart from, a quote that has become a talisman for many writers:
‘If you wrote something for which someone sent you a check, if you cashed the check and it didn’t bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.’
Thank You, Stephen King!
Stephen King is an exemplary writer of modern horror fiction, succeeding with every book in sending tingling goosebumps raging throughout one’s skin. In over 49+ years of active writing, King’s involvement in genre novels made them more real. His interplay of characterization and a rich plot while keeping in mind social situations makes him an absolute pleasure to read.
Though his books have ample horror in their stories, there would be no greater horror than to see King retire!
Stephen King’s next book, Sleeping Beauties is all set to release in 2017. He has co-written Sleeping Beauties with son Owen King.