Love or hate Stephen King, the guy writes. He writes like a pornstar shags: every day, year in, year out, and much to the annoyance of his immediate family.
If you haven’t lost yourself in one of the 7,528 books he’s written, it’s a safe bet you’ve seen one of their adaptations on the telly. The Shining, IT, The Shawshank Redemption, Stand By Me, Misery, The Green Mile… all of them King’s imaginings.
Though despite some of these Oscar-winning conversions as well as a lengthy series of fantasy novels, the 70-year-old is still renown exclusively as a writer of horror fiction.
And it’s fair. It’s how he started out way back in 1974 with the release of Carrie – originally binned only to be retrieved by his wife – followed shortly by Salem’s Lot and then the seminal Shining.
But have you ever wondered what made the man tick? Look at any public appearance made by the author and you’d be hard pressed to find any give-aways that what you’re looking at is a man responsible for the countless sleepless nights of people all over the world.
One instance from his childhood, some critics believe, is what inspired Stephen King.
It’s a tale from his early childhood, in 1950’s Maine. King meets up with a friend at his house, which is near a railroad and… yeah. You don’t need much else. I’ll let the man do the honors.
The event occurred when I was barely four. According to mom, I had gone off to play at a neighbour’s house – a house that was near a railroad line. About an hour after I left, I came back, she said ‘as white as a ghost.’
I would not speak for the rest of the day. I would not tell her why I’d not waited to be picked up or phoned that I wanted to come home. I would not tell her why my chum’s mom hadn’t walked me back, but had allowed me to come home alone.
It turned out that the kid I had been playing with had been run over by a
train while playing on or crossing the tracks. My mom never knew if I had been near him when it happened. But I have no memory of the incident at all, only of having been told about some years after the fact.
Would you honestly not remember something like that? A fucking freight train? I remember seeing a kid get clipped by a car more vividly than I remember what I bought at Gregg’s this morning. But to each their own, I guess.
King himself rubbished the idea this happening from his childhood was responsible for him channeling the darkest recesses of his soul.
I believe this is a totally specious idea – such shoot-from-the-hip psychological judgements are little more than jumped-up astrology.
So there we have it. There is no defining moment that sparked some of the greatest novels of the late 20th century.
Stephen King’s just a normal bloke who loves scaring people.