Friday, October 28, 2011

Stephen is the King of Fear

Yep, it's my turn to talk about scary books for All Hallows Read.

Frankly, I'd never viewed books as truly scary when I was a kid. Washington Irving's Headless Horseman and Charles Dickens' Ghosts of Christmas were delightfully creepy but still enjoyable. In fact, I never met a book I couldn't finish. Not until high school. Not until my sister insisted I read a book she loved called Firestarter.

I got about a quarter of the way through the book before the nightmares started. Don't ask me why I had nightmares over a sci-fi thriller. I gave the book back to my sister. "Didn't you just love it?" I told her what happened. She shook her head in disbelief.

A few months, she handed me a book she'd borrowed from the library. "With all that weird stuff you read, you might like this one better." This time the book was Stephen King's Carrie. The nightmares were even worse than with Firestarter. It probably didn't help that I was going through similar issues in high school as the title character did. Once again, I stopped reading and returned the book to my sister.

She shook her head in disgust. "You watch zombie and vampire movies, and you can't handle this?"

I don't care what anyone says about Stephen King's writing. In me, he hit that gut-level response, the one you get when faced with the real possibility of pain and death. The one I've only felt a couple of times in my life, like when my car started sliding on ice and headed straight for a telephone pole. And in most of King's works, the real danger in not external, but internal. Literally, his characters are often their own worst enemy.

Maybe that's part of the reason I write urban fantasy. The monsters are an external force to fight.

On the other hand, I did manage to finish one of King's books. The title? On Writing.


  1. The one SK book that scared me to death was THE SHINING. Can't really explain why, but that one had me jumping.

    THE STAND was an obsession. I had no choice but to stay up until 3am three nights in a row to finish it. Many years later, when the unexpurgated edition came out, history repeated itself.

    I kind of backed away from King the past few years, but I am having trouble waiting for his new one titled 11/23/63. The concept itself has been done before (going back in time to prevent the JFK assassination), but in his hands, I'm hoping for something that will knock me out of my chair.

  2. The first book I ever read WILLINGLY was Stephen King's Pet Cemetery. That's when I fell in love with reading. I heard about some guy named Koontz, LOL, and devoured his books. Then on to Anne Rice. See the trend?

    Thanks, Stephen.

    BTW - Love On Writing!


  3. I love 'On Writing' and that's the only book of his I've read. I tried a couple others, but just couldn't get into them!

  4. Suzan,

    My first King book was SALEM'S LOT.. I only read it in the daytime because of the you know what....

    I loved ON WRITING; it made me cry.

    Enjoy your weekend.

  5. @Will - I LOVED The Stand mini-series with Gary Sinese. Just don't ask me to read the book.

    @Jenn - Heck, Pet Semetary was the one movie based on King I couldn't watch wither. I mean, why would ANYONE do that to their wife?!

    @Tess - Maybe my problem is I got in a little too much!

    @Meb - Salem's Lot was my sister's last stab to get me to read a King book. I refused to even open it.