For my first writer crush article I thought it fitting that I write about the first novelist I really got into. I acknowledge that while his works may never be found in the literature section of your local bookstore, there is no doubt that the writing of Stephen King was a huge part of my teenage years, and as such, he will always hold a place in my heart.
When I was 12 I decided that R.L Stine just wasn’t scary enough anymore. I didn’t need to look far for something a little juicier, having within my reach a bunch of books my older brother had left behind when he’d moved out two years prior. I turned the blue-jacketed Misery over in my hands and wondered if I could read something so long. From the moment I started reading I could not put it down, and so began my love affair with Stephen King.
I quickly devoured Misery (which remains one of my favourites) and moved on to Carrie, Cujo, Christine and Pet Sematary, as well as enjoying story collections like Skeleton Crew, Different Seasons and Four Past Midnight. Somewhere out there is a 3.5 inch floppy disk on which I had saved a spreadsheet containing a list of the SK books I had read, my rating of each, and my favourite lines.
I think I would’ve been about sixteen when I bit the bullet and pulled down what looked to me to be the scariest book in my Grandfather’s shelves. That copy of The Shining was a bright yellow film tie-in version, and it had me at ‘redrum.’ I think King’s best work comes about when he writes about writers, and Jack Torrance is certainly no exception to that.
When I was seventeen, my English teacher (who I admired greatly) expressed her disdain at my Stephen King fan status, labelling his work ‘airport fiction’ and made it clear her estimation of me had dropped considerably. But the short stories I wrote which she so often praised almost always had an element of horror to them, something owing no doubt to my consumption of King over the preceeding years.
I haven’t read much Stephen King since my teens. I tried to get into The Gunslinger, but it just wasn’t grabbing me. King himself admits the Dark Tower series doesn’t really get going until a few books in. The series’ cult following makes me think it could be possibly worth the wait, but not having the luxury of time I did as a teen makes me reluctant to slog it out for pages and pages until I get to the good stuff. Instead I think I’ll pin my hopes on Doctor Sleep, which is a sequel to The Shining and is out later this year. It seems as good a reason as any to rekindle my relationship with the master of horror.
Stephen King’s Official Website is here.
You can see a teaser trailer for Doctor Sleep here.
I plan to review Stephen King’s On Writing next month for my first edition of Writer’s Bookshelf.
Are you a Stephen King fan?
Should I persevere with the Dark Tower?
Who was the first novelist you couldn’t get enough of?