Reviews, articles, rants & ramblings on the darker side of the media fringe

Stephen King

Stephen Edwin King (born September 21, 1947) is an American author of contemporary horror, suspense, fantasy and science fiction. is books have sold more than 350 million copies worldwide, which have been adapted into a number of feature films, television movies and comic books. As of 2011, King has written and published 49 novels, including seven under the pen name Richard Bachman, five non-fiction books, and nine collections of short stories. Many of his stories are set in his home state of Maine.

When King was two years old, his father left the family under the pretense of “going to buy a pack of cigarettes,” leaving his mother to raise King and his adopted older brother, David, by herself, sometimes under great financial strain. As a child, King apparently witnessed one of his friends being struck and killed by a train, though he has no memory of the event. His family told him that after leaving home to play with the boy, King returned, speechless and seemingly in shock. Only later did the family learn of the friend’s death. Some commentators have suggested that this event may have psychologically inspired some of King’s darker works, but King himself has dismissed the idea.

While browsing through an attic with his elder brother, King uncovered a paperback version of an H.P. Lovecraft collection of short stories that had belonged to his father. From 1966, King studied English at the University of Maine, graduating in 1970 with a bachelor of Arts in English. After leaving the university, King earned a certificate to teach high school but, being unable to find a teaching post immediately, initially supplemented his laboring wage by selling short stories to various mens magazines. Many of these early stories have been published in the collection Night Shift.

In 1973, King’s novel ‘Carrie’ was accepted by publishing house Doubleday. King actually threw an early draft of the novel in the trash after becoming discouraged with his progress writing about a teenage girl with psychic powers. His wife retrieved the manuscript and encouraged him to finish it.  His advance for Carrie was $2,500, with paperback rights earning $400,000 at a later date. King then began writing a book titled Second Coming, later titled Jerusalem’s Lot, before finally changing the title to ‘Salem’s Lot’ (published 1975). King has written of his severe drinking problem at this time, stating that he was drunk delivering the eulogy at his mother’s funeral.

After his mother’s death, King and his family moved to Boulder, Colorado, where King wrote ‘The Shining’ (published 1977). It would appear that Kings well documented issues with Stanley Kubrick’s version of the Shining stem from Kubrick removing most of Jack Torrance’s alcoholism that is prevalent in the novel. King produced his own TV version in 1997, it wasn’t as good as Kubrick’s classic.

The family returned to western Maine in 1975, where King completed his fourth novel, ‘The Stand’ (published 1978). By now King was well established as an international bestselling author. He has continued to publish novels at an exceptional rate of at least one every year since ‘The Shining’. Apart from those first 4 mentioned, my favourites have been ‘The Dead Zone'(1979), ‘Firestarter’ (1980), ‘Cujo’ (1981), ‘Pet Sematary (1983) and ‘Misery’ (1987). I have to confess that I became less interested in Kings books as my reading preferences became more varied.

There have been almost 40 filmed versions of his work, the best of which are, as with his novels, from his earlier work. ‘Carrie’, ‘The Shining’, ‘Creepshow’, ‘Cujo’, ‘The Dead Zone’, ‘Misery’, being the best of the them. There have also been some excellent movies from his short stories, ‘Stand by Me’, ”The Shawshank Redemption’, ‘Apt Pupil’, ‘1408’ and ‘The Mist’. The best filmed version of his later work is ‘The Green Mile’. There has been a long running bid to get his book series, ‘The Dark Tower’ into production, however the scale of the story has thus far prevented any real progress.

King has received Bram Stoker Awards, World Fantasy Awards, British Fantasy Society Awards, his novella ‘The Way Station’ was a Nebula Award novelette nominee, and in 2003, the National Book Foundation awarded him the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.

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