Anyone who knows me knows that Stephen King is my all time favorite author. It isn't just because I'm a major horror fan...but because he has inspires me when it comes to writing. I learned a lot from his book "On Writing." It gave the most helpful advice and each time I read it it gives me a renewal of confidence and inspiration.
Here is my tribute to Stephen King and a look at some of my favorite work by him.
"If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot." - Stephen King "On Writing"
In addition to being the author of novels, short stories and essays - he is also a screenwriter, film producer, movie director and actor. It's been almost 40 years since the publication of his first book. Let's take a look at my favorite list of books (which most have turned into films) from the very beginning...
- CARRIE - He wrote this while teaching high school English, on a typewriter in the furnace room of their rented mobile home. He started and discarded this novel in the trash...thinking he would enver have the time or the character insight to finish. His wife, Tabitha King, found and read it. She encouraged him to finish. Taking her advice he did...and thus Stephen King, The Master of Horror was born. This was also turned into a movie starring Sissy Spacek as "CARRIE" an odd girl with telekinetic powers.
- SALEM'S LOT: As a follow up to Carrie, King turned in an already finished manuscript for consideration that was first titled SECOND COMING (also known now as Salem's Lot.) This earned King a $500,000 advance and became his very first best-seller. After not having much and living off a teacher's salary in the 70's...this advance was just what King needed to be able to quit his job and write full time. The movie was exceptional! The vampire is one of the scariest looking vampires I've seen in horror history.
- THE SHINING: In the fall, King and his wife left for a mini-getaway at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. They arrived the night before the hotel closed for the winter and were the only guests. This is where King got his amazing inspiration for this novel. He didn't realize it then and it was years after it's publication when King became sober, that he related to his character Jack Torrance in a lot of ways. King said, "By making Jack Torrance a drinker....I found myself able to look around a dark corner and to see myself as I could have been, under the right set of circumstances." The movie is absolutely terrifying and I have heard a lot of talk about a sequel in the making.
- THE STAND: One of Stephen King's longest novels and was one of my very favorite books/movies. I guess because the survivors are presented with a true moral dilemma...are they good or are they evil??? Do they respond to Mother Abigail or the dark man...Randall Flagg??? See this is what I see being the question of today's society...are we all good...taught to be evil...or evil...taught to be good? Of course the answer will always be a mystery I suppose... King also plays the part of Teddy Weizak, a guy who drives Nadine to Mother A's house in the movie.
- THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION: This is one of my personal non-horror favs. Talk about friendship and loyalty! This is the ultimate meaning in my book. Of course this is one of his short stories in the book "Different Seasons" that became an extremely famous movie starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. One of my favorite quotes from this movie (and there are so many) is one when Red goes up for Parole for like the 10th time after being denied... " There's not a day goes by that I don't feel regret. Not because I'm in here and because you think I should. I look back on the way I was then, a young, stupid kid who committed that terrible crime. I want to talk to him. Try and talk some sense into him. Tell him the way things are. But I can't. That kid's long gone, and this old man is all that is left. I gotta live with that. Rehabilitated? That's just a bullshit word. So you go and stamp your form, sonny, and stop wasting my time. 'Cause to tell you the truth, I don't give a shit." And of course you know he was granted parole after that...
- CUJO: After finishing "The Dead Zone", King and his family moved to Hampshire, England for a year, during which, King completed "Cujo" I've read the book and watched the movie but it was this movie that truly had me scared to go outside for fear that Cujo was outside...the end of the movie is by far the best but how many of you got SO tired of hearing that little boy screaming and crying throughout half of it?
- PET SEMETARY: When King was teaching Creative Writing at the University of Maine, he moved his family to a rented house on a major highway. There he discovered a burial ground not far from them that held cats, dogs, birds and a goat. Shortly after, King found his daughters cat dead on the side of the road. His youngest son Owen (18 months) got dangerously close to that very busy road one day, King barely getting there in time to catch him. These are all the events that led to creation of this awesome (and scariest) novel!
- IT: While King worked on other projects and such over the next 2 years his idea for America's scariest monster came into play. I mean, because what is scarier for most people than a demonic clown? Personally, not very scary for me because I don't have a thing with clowns but I know a lot of people who do and I get it. The movie was really good to me. I watched it for the first time in years a couple of months ago and was reminded just why I love it so much. I've always believed that as adults, we are so closed-minded that we just refuse to believe...while children...well, they are open and innocent to all sorts of possibilities. Over-all, this is just another example of why Stephen King is genius to me!
- THE BODY: Also known to a lot of you guys as "Stand By Me." This was another Novella written in the book "Different Seasons" and turned into a major film. Growing up (at about the age of 11) this was my favorite movie. At this point I was already into reading, writing, mysteries... and River Phoenix. So when I watched this movie for the first time about 4 kids venturing out to find a dead body, it was right up my alley. Still one of my very favorites to this day.
- MISERY: I have to mention this one because it had such an impact on me for years. The scene where Kathy Bates puts a wooden block between his feet and whacks his ankles with a sledge hammer, breaking them, so he couldn't leave her. Wow. I still shudder.
- THE GREEN MILE: How awesome was this? Stephen King started having thoughts of a death row novel while working on the book "Desperation" (which was yet again another great one in my opinion.) In 1996, both books were published. How much of a genius does it take to come up with a character like John Coffey. And Tom Hanks is one of my very favorite actors anyway and did an exceptional job Paul Edgecomb.
- BAG OF BONES: It was many years after being a King Fan that I finally read and watched this for the first time...like this year later...and it was awesome. I can't believe I waited so long but I honestly didn't think I was going to be able to get into it. (yes, being a fan, I can still say that sometimes, I can't get my attention all the way interested in absolutely everything he does...just most of it.) But I was wrong on this one. Also I would like to mention another absolute fantastic movie STORM OF THE CENTURY: this was one of my very favorites for a long time and still is. I think it's very under-rated and a lot of people I recommend this to has never heard of it. It has one of the very best twists at the end! Watch it if you've never given it a chance. You will not regret it.
"Whatever happens to us feeds into whatever we write." - Stephen King