Stephen Edwin King is an American author of contemporary horror, supernatural fiction, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy. His books have sold more than 350 million copies,many of which have been adapted into feature films, miniseries, television shows, and comic books. King has published 54 novels. He has written nearly 200 short stories, most of which have been collected in book collections.
Stephen Edwin King was born September 21, 1947, in Portland, Maine. When King was two years old, his father left the family under the pretense of "going to buy a pack of cigarettes", leaving his mother to raise King and his adopted older brother, David, by herself, sometimes under great financial strain. The family moved to De Pere, Wisconsin, Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Stratford, Connecticut. When King was eleven, the family returned to Durham, Maine, where Ruth King cared for her parents until their deaths. She then became a caregiver in a local residential facility for the mentally challenged.King was raised Methodist and remains religious as an adult.
As a child, King apparently witnessed one of his friends being struck and killed by a train, though he has no memory of the event. His family told him that after leaving home to play with the boy, King returned, speechless and seemingly in shock. Only later did the family learn of the friend's death. Some commentators have suggested that this event may have psychologically inspired some of King's darker works,but King makes no mention of it in his memoir On Writing (2000).
King related in detail his primary inspiration for writing horror fiction in his non-fiction Danse Macabre (1981), in a chapter titled "An Annoying Autobiographical Pause". King compares his uncle's successfully dowsing for water using the bough of an apple branch with the sudden realization of what he wanted to do for a living. That inspiration occurred while browsing through an attic with his elder brother, when King uncovered a paperback version of an H. P. Lovecraft collection of short stories, entitled The Lurker in the Shadows, that had belonged to his father. The cover art—an illustration of a yellow-green demon hiding within the recesses of a Hellish cavern beneath a tombstone—was, he writes, the moment in his life which "that interior dowsing rod responded to." King told Barnes & Noble Studios during a 2009 interview, "I knew that I'd found home when I read that book.
Stephen attended the grammar school in Durham and then Lisbon Falls High School, graduating in 1966. From his sophomore year at the University of Maine at Orono, he wrote a weekly column for the school newspaper, THE MAINE CAMPUS. He was also active in student politics, serving as a member of the Student Senate. He came to support the anti-war movement on the Orono campus, arriving at his stance from a conservative view that the war in Vietnam was unconstitutional. He graduated from the University of Maine at Orono in 1970, with a B.A. in English and qualified to teach on the high school level. A draft board examination immediately post-graduation found him 4-F on grounds of high blood pressure, limited vision, flat feet, and punctured eardrums.
King published his first short story while in college, which appeared in Startling Mystery Stories. After graduating with a degree in English in 1970, he tried to find a position as a teacher, but he had no luck at first. King took a job in a laundry and continued to write stories in his spare time until late 1971, when he began working as an English teacher at Hampden Academy.
In 1973,the first King's novel Carrie was accepted by publishing house Doubleday. King threw an early draft of the novel in the trash after becoming discouraged with his progress writing about a teenage girl with psychic powers. His wife retrieved the manuscript and encouraged him to finish it. His advance for Carrie was $2,500, with paperback rights earning $400,000 at a later date. King and his family moved to southern Maine because of his mother's failing health. At this time, he began writing a book titled Second Coming, later titled Jerusalem's Lot, before finally changing the title to Salem's Lot (published 1975). In a 1987 issue of The Highway Patrolman magazine, he stated, "The story seems sort of down home to me. I have a special cold spot in my heart for it!" Soon after the release of Carrie in 1974, his mother died of uterine cancer. His Aunt Emrine read the novel to her before she died. King has written of his severe drinking problem at this time, stating that he was drunk delivering the eulogy at his mother's funeral.
After his mother's death, King and his family moved to Boulder, Colorado, where King wrote The Shining (1977). The family returned to western Maine in 1975, where King completed his fourth novel, The Stand (1978). In 1977, the family, with the addition of Owen Phillip (his third and last child), traveled briefly to England, returning to Maine that fall where King began teaching creative writing at the University of Maine. He has kept his primary residence in Maine ever since.
In 1985 King wrote his first work for the comic book medium, writing a few pages of the benefit X-Men comic book Heroes for Hope Starring the X-Men. The book, whose profits were donated to assist with famine relief in Africa, was written by a number of different authors in the comic book field, such as Chris Claremont, Stan Lee, and Alan Moore, as well as authors not primarily associated with that industry, such as Harlan Ellison. The following year, King wrote the introduction to Batman No. 400, an anniversary issue in which he expressed his preference for that character over Superman.
On June 19, 1999 at about 4:30 pm, King was walking on the shoulder of Route 5, in Lovell, Maine. Driver Bryan Smith, distracted by an unrestrained dog moving in the back of his minivan, struck King, who landed in a depression in the ground about 14 feet from the pavement of Route 5. According to Oxford County Sheriff deputy Matt Baker, King was hit from behind and some witnesses said the driver was not speeding, reckless, or drinking.
King was conscious enough to give the deputy phone numbers to contact his family but was in considerable pain. The author was first transported to Northern Cumberland Hospital in Bridgton and then flown by helicopter to Central Maine Medical Center, in Lewiston. His injuries—a collapsed right lung, multiple fractures of his right leg, scalp laceration and a broken hip—kept him at CMMC until July 9. His leg bones were so shattered doctors initially considered amputating his leg, but stabilized the bones in the leg with an external fixator. After five operations in ten days and physical therapy, King resumed work on On Writing in July, though his hip was still shattered and he could only sit for about forty minutes before the pain became worse. Soon it became nearly unbearable.
King's lawyer and two others purchased Smith's van for $1,500, reportedly to prevent it from appearing on eBay. The van was later crushed at a junkyard, much to King's disappointment, as he dreamed of beating it with a baseball bat once his leg was healed. King later mentioned during an interview with Fresh Air's Terry Gross that he wanted to completely destroy the vehicle himself with a pickaxe.
During this time, Tabitha King was inspired to redesign his studio. King visited the space while his books and belongings were packed away. What he saw was an image of what his studio would look like if he died, providing a seed for his novel Lisey's Story.
In 2002, King announced he would stop writing, apparently motivated in part by frustration with his injuries, which had made sitting uncomfortable and reduced his stamina. He has since resumed writing, but states on his website that:
''I'm writing but I'm writing at a much slower pace than previously and I think that if I come up with something really, really good, I would be perfectly willing to publish it because that still feels like the final act of the creative process, publishing it so people can read it and you can get feedback and people can talk about it with each other and with you, the writer, but the force of my invention has slowed down a lot over the years and that's as it should be.''
In 2000, King published a serialized novel, The Plant, online, bypassing print publication. At first it was presumed by the public that King had abandoned the project because sales were unsuccessful, but he later stated that he had simply run out of stories. The unfinished epistolary novel is still available from King's official site, now free. Also in 2000, he wrote a digital novella, Riding the Bullet, and has said he sees e-books becoming 50% of the market "probably by 2013 and maybe by 2012." But he also warns: "Here's the thing—people tire of the new toys quickly."
In August 2003 King began writing a column on pop culture appearing in Entertainment Weekly, usually every third week. The column is called "The Pop of King," a play on the nickname "The King of Pop" commonly given to Michael Jackson. In 2006, King published an apocalyptic novel, Cell. The book features a sudden force in which every cell phone user turns into a mindless killer. King noted in the book's introduction that he does not use cell phones. In 2007, Marvel Comics began publishing comic books based on King's Dark Tower series, followed by adaptations of The Stand in 2008 and The Talisman in 2009.
In 2008, King published both a novel, Duma Key, and a collection, Just After Sunset. The latter featured 13 short stories, including a novella, N., which was later released as a serialized animated series that could be seen for free, or, for a small fee, could be downloaded in a higher quality; it then was adopted into a limited comic book series.
In 2009, King published Ur, a novella written exclusively for the launch of the second-generation Amazon Kindle and available only on Amazon.com, and Throttle, a novella co-written with his son Joe Hill, which later was released as an audiobook Road Rage, which included Richard Matheson's short story "Duel". On November 10 that year, King's novel, Under the Dome, was published. It is a reworking of an unfinished novel he tried writing twice in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and at 1,074 pages, it is the largest novel he has written since 1986's It. It debuted at No. 1 in The New York Times Bestseller List.
On February 16, 2010, King announced on his website that his next book would be a collection of four previously unpublished novellas called Full Dark, No Stars. In April of that year, King published Blockade Billy, an original novella issued first by independent small press Cemetery Dance Publications and later released in mass market paperback by Simon & Schuster. The following month, DC Comics premiered American Vampire, a monthly comic book series written by King with short story writer Scott Snyder, and illustrated by Rafael Albuquerque, which represents King's first original comics work. King wrote the background history of the very first American vampire, Skinner Sweet, in the first five-issue story arc. Scott Snyder wrote the story of Pearl.
King's next novel, 11/22/63, published in 2011, was nominated for the 2012 World Fantasy Award Best Novel. The eighth Dark Tower volume, The Wind Through the Keyhole, was published in 2012. King's next novel is the upcoming sequel to The Shining (1977), titled Doctor Sleep, scheduled for 2013, and King is currently working on Joyland, a novel about "an amusement-park serial killer," according to an article in The Sunday Times (April 8, 2012).
''I've always believed in God. I also think that's the sort of thing that either comes as part of the equipment, the capacity to believe, or at some point in your life, when you're in a position where you actually need help from a power greater than yourself, you simply make an agreement.''
King’s website addresses his Methodist upbringing in the Frequently Asked Questions sections, which reads:
Stephen was raised as a Methodist and attended church regularly in his youth. He no longer attends church, but he does believe in God and reads the Bible.
But this isn’t nearly enough for some folks, who are convinced that King’s books mirror the stories of the Bible.King himself doesn’t agree, saying he’s not “God’s stenographer.” In fact, King doesn’t seem to hold religion in very high regard. He said:
''I hate organized religion. I think it’s one of the roots of real evil that’s in the world. If you really unmask Satan, you’ll probably find that he’s wearing a turnaround collar.''
King, a highly intelligent man with an obvious penchant for the occult and supernatural, a man who’s made his living off of his readers’ fascination with the impossible and irrational, ironically condemns the illogical nature of belief, saying:
''The beauty of religious mania is that it has the power to explain everything. Once God (or Satan) is accepted as the first cause of everything which happens in the mortal world, nothing is left to chance… logic can be happily tossed out the window.''
King is a staunch Democrat and a confirmed liberal.
King has simultaneously endorsed Obama and blasted the conservatives that hate him. Truly, the amount of contempt and bile sent Obama’s way during the 2012 election is staggering and King worried that someone may try to assassinate him.
King hates conservatives like Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly and the Tea Party. Beck, according to King is “Satan’s younger brother,” while O’Reilly is “Satan’s older, mentally challenged brother.”
Concerned about corporate greed, money in politics, and budgetary issues in the United States, King sided with ultra-liberal members of the Occupy movement in asking for higher taxes on the rich, saying:
''As a rich person, I pay 28% taxes. What I want to ask you is, why don’t I pay 50%? Why is everybody in my bracket not paying 50%? The Republicans will say, from John Boehner to Mitch McConnell to Rick Scott, that we can’t do that because, if we tax guys like me, there won’t be any jobs. It’s bull! It’s total bull!''
''People think that I must be a very strange person. This is not correct. I have the heart of a small boy. It is in a glass jar on my desk.''
''Life is like a wheel. Sooner or later, it always come around to where you started again.''
''Only enemies speak the truth; friends and lovers lie endlessly, caught in the web of duty.''
''The most important things are the hardest things to say. They are the things you get ashamed of because words diminish your feelings - words shrink things that seem timeless when they are in your head to no more than living size when they are brought out.''
''And as a writer, one of the things that I've always been interested in doing is actually invading your comfort space. Because that's what we're supposed to do. Get under your skin, and make you react.''
''If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There's no way around these two things that I'm aware of, no shortcut.''
''I'm not a big fan of psychoanalysis: I think if you have mental problems what you need are good pills. But I do think that if you have thinks that bother you, things that are unresolved, the more that you talk about them, write about them, the less serious they become.''
''A lot of us grow up and we grow out of the literal interpretation that we get when we're children, but we bear the scars all our life. Whether they're scars of beauty or scars of ugliness, it's pretty much in the eye of the beholder.''
''Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.''
''I was in enough to get along with people. I was never socially inarticulate. Not a loner. And that saved my life, saved my sanity. That and the writing. But to this day I distrust anybody who thought school was a good time. Anybody.''
''Like anything else that happens on its own, the act of writing is beyond currency. Money is great stuff to have, but when it comes to the act of creation, the best thing is not to think of money too much. It constipates the whole process.''
''I'm still in love with what I do, with the idea of making things up, so hours when I write always feel like very blessed hours to me.''
''And poets, in my view, and I think the view of most people, do speak God's language - it's better, it's finer, it's language on a higher plane than ordinary people speak in their daily lives.''
''I love the movies, and when I go to see a movie that's been made from one of my books, I know that it isn't going to be exactly like my novel because a lot of other people have interpreted it. But I also know it has an idea that I'll like because that idea occurred to me, and I spent a year, or a year and a half of my life working on it.''
The Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation,founder
Open and generous, Stephen King enjoys a wide circle of friends and acquaintances and he thrives on sociability and fellowship. He is adventurous, playful, freedom loving, and always ready for a good time. King rarely allows obstacles or difficulties to keep him down, for no matter how bleak the past or present, Stephen always expects a better, brighter future. In fact, he is uncomfortable with his own or other people's problems and emotional pain. Stephen King often tries to "cheer up" or offer philosophical advice to those who are hurting, but he unwittingly avoids or ignores the emotions involved.
Friendship means a great deal to King, perhaps even more than love relationships or romance. For Stephen King to be happy, his mate must be his best friend and encourage Stephen's aspirations and ideals. Stephen King also needs a great deal of emotional freedom and mobility.
He is emotionally expressive and often dramatizes his feelings by acting them out or blowing them out of proportion. Stephen King cannot hide his instinctive emotional reactions to people or situations, and he does not make any pretenses about his personal sympathies or antipathies.
Stephen King has a childlike openness and playfulness that is very appealing to others but sometimes gets him into trouble, as Stephen takes risks on an impulse or a whim.
Richard Matheson,H. P. Lovecraft, Bram Stoker, Joseph Payne Brennan,John D. MacDonald,Robert A. Heinlein,Elmore Leonard