Why I love Stephen King

Stephen King is synonymous with horror. There are few authors who can compare when it comes to his skill, number of books written and number of books sold. So why do I love Stephen King? Here are five reasons:

(1) He spooked an entire generation

When King write ‘IT’, I wonder if he knew that he would kill a whole generation’s love of clowns. I know few people who don’t have that infamous creature’s image come to mind when they think of clowns, and even less who can suppress a shiver when you talk about that film. The new generation feels little for IT, but for those of us who watched it when we were young, we’ll never be the same…

(2) Carrie

Carrie White embodies the feelings of all teenagers. She was a victim, an outcast and a character who we couldn’t help but identify with. Having to face the overbearing parent, the unsympathetic school teachers and the vicious class mates every day are something that we have all gone through. Let’s face it, who wouldn’t have jumped at the chance to have had her powers at that age? To have been able to have inflicted revenge on those horrendous creatures that are known as teenagers? As much as we tell ourselves that we would have had more control over her powers than she did, we know deep inside that ultimately anyone in that situation would go down in flames.

The power of Carrie is in that while King makes us sympathize with her, he also makes us realize that we would have jumped on that tampon throwing, pig blood dousing bandwagon rather than defend her. We loved Carrie because we hated her.

(2) The Moving Finger

I first read ‘The Moving Finger’ when I was about twelve and it has been the only story I have read that I was too scared to finish. Finally, after 14 years I’m admitting that that short story scared me. Yet I went back for more and finished it. So how did that gem manage to freak me out? Because the characters and setting were so commonplace and the finger was so bizarre. Yet possible!

I still pick up the story once in a while and read it, hoping to find a glimpse of that horror from years ago, but I never find do it. I chuckle when i think that it could have scared me, because really, it shouldn’t have. No story has scared me since, yet I find myself hoping that every new book I read will have something of that essence, of that primal inexplicable fear, that special something that makes me glad I have a hair trap in my sink. But I’ve never found it, and King will forever be the first (and only) author who scared me.

(3) Everyday objects

Chattery teeth, a toy monkey, cars, fridges and don’t forget the Hadley-Watson Model-6 Speed Ironer and Folder. Each of these objects became something sinister, something other than what they were, and while it seems pretty lame in hindsight, when you’re reading them they draw you in. Hi subtle yet powerful characters are confronted with the bizarre, and I find myself thinking what I would do in that situation. The odds are I’d end up as the characters did…

(4) The Jaunt

One of the few stories that I’ve read and could actually hear a characters voice ringing in my head long after I put it down. The Jaunt is a little long winded but worth it. The sheer horror smacks you in the face after listening to the father tell his calming tale before the jaunt. You almost find yourself expecting to blink and wake up on Mars, only hear the commotion and see the… well… you’ll have to read it for yourself. After all, it’s longer than you think… right?

(5) He made me cry

While it wasn’t the gut wrenching full waterworks, a tear or two did fall at the end of the book Cujo. If you’ve seen the film, read the book instead. While I the horror genre doesn’t have a lot of happy endings, it doesn’t have a lot of tear jerkers either. Cujo is about more than just a dog, and when you finish that last page you can’t help but feel sad.

If you’re a King fan, you’ll have noticed that these references all come from early on in his career. I love King’s writing and continue to be a faithful reader, but my dedication to him has wavered somewhat over the years (round about the time The Dark Tower series came out). In my opinion, his best work came in the form of his early short stories, where his work was still filled with raw emotion and wrote for the effect – for the horror – no matter what people had to say.

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  1. #1 by danielledevalera on 2011/11/20 - 21:10

    Hi HW, Nice blog, as usual. I’m in awe of you layout skills!
    Just discovered a lady called Anna Maguire, who’s on WordPress writing about e books and digital publishing. I’m snowed today, but I think she’d be worth having a look at.
    About to try to follow you on twitter. Wish me luck!
    Best,
    Danielle de Valera

  2. #2 by danielledevalera on 2011/11/20 - 21:13

    No Luck – I’m a klutz digitally. Would you mind awfully sending me a tweet at @de_valera?
    DAnielle (The Luddite) de Valera

    • #3 by Horror Writing on 2011/11/20 - 22:30

      Hi, thanks again for your support. Always good to hear from a fan! I don’t do the twitter thing right now, maybe at some stage in the future!

  3. #4 by Writing Jobs on 2011/11/21 - 00:27

    Great post thanks. I really enjoyed it very much.

    Love writing? We would love for you to join us!

    - Writers Wanted -

  4. #5 by The Paranormalist on 2011/11/21 - 01:58

    Re: #1 – The teenagers I know are still carrying that fear of clowns, and it’s directly related to IT. For them, though, it was the movie, which shows frequently on late night cable. I keep trying to get them to read the book, but they won’t. Too scary, they say.

    • #6 by Horror Writing on 2011/11/21 - 09:07

      I’m glad to see the book is still working it’s magic all these years after it first came out!

  5. #7 by Aniko Carmean on 2011/11/21 - 07:11

    The Langoliers made it impossible for me to fly in an airplane without thinking that it really would be best if I slept the whole flight. The Shining scares me, even on subsequent re-reads, although I’ve never been as frightened as the first time I read it. I keep meaning to read Pet Cemetery and, yes, the end of Cujo also made me cry (…he was a good dog…).

  6. #8 by iZombie on 2011/12/01 - 09:55

    HBA Welcome Wagon…
    Wanted to let you know, you part of the Alliance.
    Please stop by and check to make sure your link is correct.
    Remember to say Thank You and visit the other HBA Members.

    Jeremy [Retro-Zombie]
    Visit The Madness:
    IZOMBIE
    HBA Staff

  7. #10 by Kirk Jolly on 2012/04/09 - 23:15

    I appreciate your points and agree with almost all of them except that you say his work took a turn about the time the Dark Tower came out. Do you mean the entire series or just the last book titled The Dark Tower? Either way, if you haven’t read the Dark Tower series and you call yourself a King fan, you need to get on it. Think Cujo is sad? The last book of DT will have you balling.

    I’m not saying that there hasn’t been a decline in his work in recent years, but what can you expect when 4 of your first 6 books are Carrie, Salem’s Lot, The Shining, and the Stand. I mean he could have never written another word and he would have had the most brilliant horror writing career with just those. Timeless classics.

    You touched on this a bit but King’s brilliance has nothing to do with creative plots or scares. It’s all about his characters. He writes them so you know them personally and he makes you love them, become them, hate them, and then, bastard that he is, he usually kills them in gut wrenching fashion.

    Not to pick on Dean Koontz because I thorougly enjoy reading him, but just as an example Koontz has some great plots and scares in his books but his characters for the most part are a little flat which makes him entertaining to read but I would never say that his books will be classics. Eventually when he stops churning out the hits, somebody else with a similar easy to read style will step up to fill his place and in 50 years, most won’t know who he is. King will be remembered not because he scared or entertained us, but because he made us invest ourselves in his characters and go along for whatever hellacious ride they take us on.

    • #11 by Horror Writing on 2012/04/10 - 07:38

      Hi, thanks for your comments, you raise some interesting and valid points. We all love our authors for various reasons and this post was about why I like his work.

      Yes, he does have strong characters that fuel his stories, and we all have a couple that we won’t forget. That’s a great point and true to his work!

  8. #12 by Nick Warren Writes on 2012/04/18 - 06:30

    King will be remembered and read by future generations. I think he evokes periods and locales perfectly. His early work appeals more to me although some of his later works are excellent. I’m reading 11.22.63 and it is far superior to other recent outings. Lisey’s story, Duma Key, and others have been listless works. Well written as any reader of his stories is used to but not even close to his best. From A Buick 8 was poor. A great idea but a boring read.

    Having said that, if I could write as well as he does at his worst I’d be twice the writer I am.

    • #13 by Horror Writing on 2012/04/18 - 10:21

      I agree. I recently read 11.22.63 and was impressed. It’s a great book, definitely one of his better works in recent times!

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