"We make up horrors to help us cope with the real ones." - Stephen King
No other horror author has had as many novels translated into other languages and certainly no other has had as many film adaptations as Stephen King. He is the most financially successful horror writer in history (and this is a fact, not an opinion). What do you say about a legend like this? Perhaps if I had read his book "On Writing", all this would be easier. I could go on for paragraphs explaining why this man is the influence that is he today, but that could take all day.
It actually all boils down to one simple fact: Stephen King knows what scares us and he knows it so well that regardless of what your fears are, he will discover and exploit them... and scare the daylights out of you while doing so. He understands the human personality and psychology so well that we believe that his characters are real... and that they could be us! To explain it best I will quote the description of his work when he was given the lifetime achievement award by the National Book Awards (2003):
Stephen Kings writing is securely rooted in the great American tradition that glorifies spirit-of-place and the abiding power of narrative. He crafts stylish, mind-bending page-turners that contain profound moral truthssome beautiful, some harrowingabout our inner lives.
Stephen King has a very interesting grasp of horror that relates to his opinion of horror as a coping mechanism. While some consider his work to be generally gory and over-the-top, he has never pigeon-holed himself.
In "IT" we explore horror from the perspective of a child (and boy! does he know how to write from a kid's perspective) and its progression into adulthood. He takes an innocent icon of your childhood and twists it so deeply that you never look at a clown the same way again. He did for clowns what Hitchcock's "Psycho" did for showers.
In "Misery" you have the horror of an obsessed personality that will not leave the object of her fantasies alone... or alive.
In "Needful Things", King shows us what happens when you can have anything you want when the price that you pay is just one evil deed. He shows us how quickly evil can spread.
Take a moment to consider one his most well-known publishings.... "Carrie". Just the mere mention of the title makes you think of a girl drenched in blood. King takes the idea of an young outcast growing up and manifests her anxieties into a telekinetic ability that wrecks uncontrollable havoc. As a fun little factoid, he originally intended to write "Carrie" for a magazine after a female remarked to him that he could not write from a feminine perspective. He took up the challenge and the first 3 pages that he wrote were the shower scene where our poor Carrie is assaulted by a barrage of sanitary napkins from the other girls when she first gets her period. He initially tossed these pages until his wife fished them out of the garbage and told him to finish it. Soon later, "Carrie" was born.
King accomplishes an amazing feat. He takes a piece of your life, turns it around, and then shows it right back to you all twisted up. By changing the perspective and circumstances of what you've come to know, you're able to gain a better grasp of your own world. Who hasn't wanted their beloved pet to come back to life? Read "Pet Cemetery" and next time you'll be careful what you wish for. No wonder that countless artists today draw their inspiration from a man that easily claims the title of "King of Horror".
I was planning on organizing this feature by novel.... but you know what? It's a lot more fun to see if you can guess the inspiration for the photo before clicking on it
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By the way, do you know that his son recently published an amazing book called "The Heartshaped Box" under the name Joe Hill? It must run in the family.
The Dark Muse Collection
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