Dubbed the King of Horror, American author Stephen King has kept his readers on the edge of their seats since he first began getting published. If you haven’t read any of his stories, chances are you’ve seen at least one of the 200 films adapted from his works. Throughout his career, he’s managed to sell more than 350 million copies of his writings and has received countless accolades for his impact on literature and his consistency throughout the decades. Clearly a man with a fascinating mind, take a more in-depth look into the life of Stephen King to learn about what makes him tick and how he grew to become such an accomplished writer.
He Almost Didn’t Finish Carrie
Early in his career, Stephen King was struggling as a relatively unknown author. With no published books and little money, he was barely supporting himself trying to get published in short story magazines. During that time, he had also begun work on his manuscript for the novel Carrie.
Only part of the way through, he became frustrated and ended up throwing the entire thing in the trash. Luckily, his wife Tabitha retrieved it from the garbage and encouraged him to finish it. Carrie would go on to become his first published novel and a massive hit.
He Was Hit By A Car And Bought The Car That Hit Him
In 1999, King was hit by a car near his summer home in Maine. The accident left King severely injured with a collapsed lung, numerous fractions to his hip and leg, and a deep cut on his head.
As a way of finding some closure after the accident, King and his lawyer bought the exact van from the person that had hit King for just $1,500. King had big plans to destroy it himself. He announced, “Yes, we’ve got the van, and I’m going to take a sledgehammer and beat it!”
His Family is Full Of Writers
Stephen King isn’t the only writer in the King clan. His wife, Tabitha, is also an accomplished writer who has had several of her own novels published. Their eldest son, Joe, is a successful horror writer who writes under the pen name of Joe Hill.
King’s youngest child, Owen, married a writer and is also a writer in his own right, having published a collection of short stories including one novella. He also co-wrote Sleeping Beauties with his father which was released in 2017. His only daughter, Naomi, is the only non-writer in the family who is a minister and an LGBT activist.
His Novella The Body Was Inspired By True Events
Stephen King’s novella, The Body, which was later adapted into the hit film Stand By Me, was inspired by real events. When King was a young boy, a friend he was playing with was hit and killed by a freight train. However, King claims to have no memory of the event.
According to his mother, after leaving to play with his friend, he came back an hour later white as a ghost and unable to speak. He commented, “My mom never knew if I had been near him when it happened, if it had occurred before I even arrived, or if I had wandered away after it happened.”
He Was In An All-Writers Band
For some time, King played rhythm guitar for a band made up of successful writers called The Rock Bottom Remainders. The group got its name from the publishing term “remainder book,” which is the unsold remainder of a stock of copies that are sold for a reduced price.
The band would go on tour around once a year between 1992 to 2012, acting as a charity supergroup who have already raised over $2 million for charity from their ticket sales. The group included Amy Tan, Dave Barry, Ridley Pearson, Matt Groening, Mitch Albom, Barbara Kingsolver, and of course, King.
He Isn’t A Fan Of Kubrick’s Adaptation Of The Shining
Considering that The Shining is such a revered horror film today, it’s interesting to learn that King didn’t enjoy the film adaptation. He hasn’t been quiet about it either and has criticized the film for being misogynistic and didn’t agree with the direction of the casting.
On the film, King commented, I think The Shining is a beautiful film and it looks terrific, and as I’ve said before, it’s like a big, beautiful Cadillac with no engine inside it. In that sense, when it opened, a lot of the reviews weren’t very favorable, and I was one of those reviewers. I kept my mouth shut at the time, but I didn’t care for it much.”
He Used To Make Money Writing For Adult Magazines
Before King grew to become a best-selling author, he made a living by selling his short stores to adult magazines. Some of his go-to publications included Playboy and Cavalier who would pay him a small amount of money in exchange for one of his stories.
According to King, most publications would pay him under $100 for each story, barely enough to make a living. However, years after becoming a successful writer, he decided to write a final story for Playboy titled “The Bone Church” in 2009.
He Killed Off One Of His Author Alias’
In the late 1970s, King was producing so many books that he decided it was time to create a writing alias to avoid an overflow of King novels on the shelf. The pseudonym that he created was Richard Bachman whom he wrote seven books under in the following years.
However, when people began to become suspicious that Bachman was King in the 1980s, King came forward with the truth. Instead of merely creasing to write under the name, he claimed that Richard Bachman has died of “Cancer of the Pseudonym.”
He Struggled With Addiction
During much of the 1980s, at the height of King’s success, he battled with drug and alcohol abuse. He claims that “There’s one novel, Cujo, that I barely remember writing at all. I don’t say that with pride or shame, only with a vague sense of sorrow and loss. I like that book. I wish I could remember enjoying the good parts as I put them down on the page.”
Things finally came to a head when his family members staged an intervention for him regarding his drinking and mostly hidden drug abuse. The intervention was an eye-opening moment for King who became sober not long after.
He Co-Wrote A Musical
In 2012, John Mellencamp, Stephen King, and T Bone Burnett collaborated on the musical Ghost Brothers of Darkland County. The idea for the musical came from Mellencamp who had bought a house in Indiana that was associated with a ghost story. The musical is a Southern Gothic tale about two brothers that hate each other and are forced by their father to spend time together in a haunted cabin.
There, the brothers encounter the ghosts of another set of brothers that hated each other as well. The show was well-received and was described by Esquire as being a musical for men, written by men.
He’s A Die Hard Red Sox Fan
Stephen King has been a hardcore Red Sox fan for a long time. He even wrote The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, a story about the Boston Red Sox. Furthermore, he had a cameo in the movie Fever Pitch where he plays himself, throwing the first pitch at a game.
In 2004, King, along with fellow writer, Stewart O’Nan, wrote about the season that brought the World Series back to the Boston. Their writings were titled Faithful: Two Diehard Boston Red Sox Fans Chronicle the Historic 2004 Season.
He And His Wife Own A Radio Station
Stephen and Tabitha King own Zone Radio Group, located in Bangor, Maine. It’s one of the few commercial radio stations in the country that is still locally owned. Furthermore, Zone Radio consists of the three channels WZON/620 AM, WKIT-FM/100.3, and WZLO/103.1, with WKIT going by the tagline “Stephen King’s Rock Station.”
There, King plays all of his favorite music for his fans and has free reign over several of the other stations that his radio group controls.
He’s Afraid Of The Number 13
While King has given plenty of people nightmares, he suffers from triskaidekaphobia, which is the severe superstition of the number 13. While being superstitious of the number 13 is somewhat common in popular culture, King has admitted that his superstition of the number is over the top.
He explains, “The number thirteen never fails to trace that old icy finger up and down my spine. When I’m writing, I’ll never stop work if the page number is thirteen or a multiple of thirteen; I’ll just keep on typing till I get to a safe number.” He basically avoids the number at all costs.
He’s Loyal To The State Of Maine
Stephen King was born, raised, and currently lives in Maine. He is one of the most famous people to come out of the state and frequently writes about it because he’s called the state home his entire life. Although towns such as Castle Rock and Derry are fictional locations, how he describes them could fool someone from Maine into believing that they are real.
He also frequently writes about Maine because the state is perfect for the settings of his spooky stories full of small towns, abandoned cemeteries, eerie bodies of water, and more.
He Wrote Carrie To Prove He Could Write About Women
While still writing short stories for various adult magazines, King came under fire when readers began pointing out that he wasn’t capable of writing about women. His dark short stories shared the same pages as scantily-clad women and offended some people. One reader responded stating, “You write all those macho things. But you can’t write about women. You’re scared of women.”
So, King took these words to heart and began writing Carrie, a book about a female high school student undergoing the woes of puberty and bullying. Of course, there was a decent amount of the supernatural in there too.
He Enjoys Playing Cameos In Film Adaptations Of His Work
According to Guinness World Records, more of Stephen King’s novels have been adapted into films than any other living author. With movies constantly being made based on his books, he usually has the opportunity to have a brief cameo, which he often accepts.
He was the man at the ATM in Maximum Overdrive, a minister in Pet Sematary, a grave worker in Sleep Walkers, Tom Holby in The Langoliers, among many other roles. As long as King continues writing, chances are he’ll keep making cameos, too.
He Has Written An Astonishing Amount
Throughout his career, Stephen King has published over 60 novels, seven under the pen name Richard Bachman, and has written over 200 short stories, many of which have been compiled in book collections. How does he manage to write all this?
Well, his secret is that he tries to write at least 2,000 words a day. This pace would allow him to write a novel in a couple of months, yet we all know how long Stephen King novels can be. Typically, he has one lengthy book published a year.
He Directed The Movie Maximum Overdrive
King’s novels have been adapted into over 200 movies, yet the only one that he ever personally directed was the 1986 film Maximum Overdrive. Yet, when asked why he hasn’t sat in the director’s chair since, he claims it was because the movie did so horribly that he figured his best place is behind the keyboard and not the camera.
He also admits having been abusing cocaine at the time, something that he believes negatively impacted the film and led to its ultimate demise. It’s also something he says he deeply regrets.
He’s Not A Fan Of Signing Autographs
While he still makes appearances for established book signings upon the release of his latest works, King doesn’t like giving autographs. There are even rumors that if someone sends him a book, he’ll burn it and return the ashes to the sender! Of course, these rumors are false, but he doesn’t feel right signing pieces of paper for his fans.
He claims that he “hates the idolatry of celebrities,” and wants to be treated like a regular person rather than some superior being. Also, if he gave an autograph to every fan that he came across when would he ever have the time to write his next book?
He Essentially Banned One Of His Own Books
Released in 1977, Rage was the first novel that King wrote under the pseudonym, Richard Bachman. The book is about a disturbed high school senior named Charlie Decker who goes on a shooting rampage and holds his classmates hostage at school.
However, it was later discovered that Jeffery Lyne Cox, who had held his classmates hostage was inspired by Rage, which sparked controversy over the text.After three similar incidents associated with the novel, King let his book fall out of print. In 2013, he went on to write an anti-firearms violence essay titled “Guns.”