Stephen King has single-handedly written his own bio many times, in the various prefaces to his novels; if you want a truer representation of who (and what) Stephen Edwin King is, then read his books. It's all there. But I'll get the facts out of the way, and attempt to articulate the reason why Stephen King is a major force and source of inspiration for my own meagre writing.

Born in 1947 in Portland, Maine, Mr. King was raised by his mother after his father left when he was still a toddler. His mother was a wonderful influence and source of strength where King's gift for writing was concerned; she allowed him to pursue writing ventures from a young age. His gift was apparent, too, as one can see in On Writing's accompanying book Secret Windows. There is a short story written in there, by King at the age of fifteen, and the traditional, brutal frankness of Stephen King is there at the outset. In 1970, King graduated the University of Maine at Orono, with a B.S. in English, where he met his future wife, Tabitha Spruce. They were married in 1971, and have three children together, Owen, Joe, and Naomi.

After a couple of years of labour-related work, King found employment as a high school English teacher. Writing after the stacks of papers were marked, and on the weekends, King produced stories which were published by men's magazines, like the now-defunct Adam, which were later gathered into collections like Night Shift.

His first published novel was Carrie (Doubleday, 1973). Though it enjoyed little success in its hardcover run, it sold amazingly in paperback. It permitted him some spending money, which he could use to live, while he wrote his next novels, 'Salem's Lot, and then The Shining. The rest was downhill from there, as the books sold very well, and King and family could live solely off the "writing money," as King likes to call it. The money has never been truly an issue with King; it's nice to have, that's all. As he said in the preface to Four Past Midnight regarding thinking of the money you'll make while writing a great novel, "it constipates the whole process." He's grateful for the money, naturally, it represents the money of the average joe, worked for, sweated for, placed into his pocket. As he likes to point out, he is paid for publishing, not for writing. The act of writing, in King's opinion, is worth far more than the simple concept of money, or payment. And being typecasted as a horror writer means little to Mr. King; he likes to scare people, a small guilty pleasure in his life.

I see no need to place Mr. King's bibliography in this writeup; it's covered nicely above, but what I would like to speak about for a moment is a couple of Stephen King's works, and how they've affected me, made me want to pursue writing as a pastime, made me want to grab someone in the street and shout into their faces: "You HAVE TO read this!"

The Stand is a sweeping work of fiction, of what King calls "dark Christianity", in the preface to the novel. I will sum it up for you, very briefly, my thoughts on the work: it could happen. That's what's scary about it. The destruction of the world has been a dank fear most people have bottled up inside once or twice, with the Cold War-related obsession with The Bomb dropping at any given time. And it's nice for people to view the government as a faceless automaton, with all sorts of bombs and diseases to kill us all with. King makes us look that fear in the face, and attempt to come to terms with it.

Equal in size to The Stand, It scared the hell out of everybody. To this day, I still know people who are afraid of Pennywise the Dancing Clown. It was a coming-of-age tale, which "The Body," the novella upon which the movie Stand By Me was based, is a more clear representation of. That was what It was all about. Not only did it allow us to remember the small horrors of our own childhoods, it helped us to understand that there are worse fears out there than we remembered: the sounds of the sewer, that dusty, boarded up house at the bottom of the hill, or that scary old woman downstairs.

Stephen King's works speak to working-class people, as it's "working class" fiction, situational fiction. He doesn't coddle, he doesn't try to impress. As he says, he's no Robert Browning, he's no Ray Bradbury or Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., or Herman Melville. He writes what he is, what he knows, and he's a simple person, who enjoys crashing out in front of the TV, watching the Red Sox get beat.

That's what makes me like him.

Other authors (of this sort?) to check out: Dean Koontz, Thomas Harris, Ray Bradbury, Peter Straub.


Following are several lists that more or less comprise King's bibliography. Most of the info was either taken from previous nodes or his website, http://www.stephenking.com, or the liner notes from any of his novels. They're pretty boring, so feel free to skip on by, but before you do, take a quick look at how many books and movies there are. It's sort of a testament to the man's popularity, and to be honest, it's pretty impressive. Let's start with his novels, by publisher:

As Richard Bachman:

Short story collections, Novella Collections and miscellany:

A number of movies have been made based on Stephen King's novels and short stories. Again, these are current as of November 2004, but disclude unfinished/pre-production or anything else :


If I'm ever in need if additions, please let me know.

Sources: any and all of Stephen King's books, especially Four Past Midnight, Secret Windows, Night Shift, The Stand.

Also, http://www.stephenking.com, and various TV things.

A well-worn cliché states that "fact is stanger than fiction". In one particular episode of King's life however it seems that the two converged to produce something even stranger.

In June 1999, near North Lovell, Maine, the horror writer Stephen King was hit by a van driven by a man named Bryan Smith. King suffered serious multiple injuries, almost losing a leg as a result.

King subsequently bought the van from Smith for $1,500 and had it crushed. He later described Smith in an interview in the New Yorker as resembling "a character out of one of my novels".

As a result of the accident, Smith lost his driver's license and received a suspended sentence. He is said to have become increasingly isolated as time went on.

On September 22 2000, King’s 53rd birthday, Smith was found dead in his mobile home in Freyeburg, Maine. The sheriff's deputy who found the body was the same officer who had arrived first at the scene of the road accident.

Although the results of toxicology reports were still awaited, at the time of the reports quoted here the autopsy on Bryan Smith had failed to find a cause of death.

Both King and Smith had the middle name Edwin.

Sources:
Fortean Times report culled from Mirror, Telegraph, Int. Herald Tribune, Sunday Mail.

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