#SKweek The Success of Stephen King (by Elizabeth)
A guest post kindly provided by Elizabeth from DirecTV
With over 300 million copies of his novels in publication, it’s no wonder why we call him the King of Horror: Stephen King, whose 66th birthday will be celebrated on September 21, has brought us the influential and terrifying horror stories such as The Shining, IT, and Carrie, just to name a few.
I remember watching the film adaptation of IT when I was 10 years old, and I have never been able to walk near a storm drain or look at clowns since. His novels have that effect on people — they are memorable and haunting originals that follow us through our lifetime, reminding us of our fears and never letting us forget his inventive plots. But how did a boy living in Maine catch such a break and become one of the most famous authors of all time? As it turns out, King’s fame is largely due to a story about a high school girl named Carrie who had telekinetic powers.
King was inspired to write after finding an old, dusty copy of an H.P. Lovecraft book, The Lurker in the Shadows, in his attic. At an early age, he was a dedicated reader of EC’s horror comics and started to write for fun, contributing work to his brother’s newspaper called Dave’s Rag while in school. His first story that was ever published was I Was a Teenage Grave Robber in 1965 for Comics Review.
It wasn’t until after he graduated from the University of Maine with a bachelor’s degree in English, after working as a teacher, and after selling short stories to men’s magazine such as Cavalier, that he finally had his first big break as a writer. In 1973, while King was drafting a novel, he became disappointed with his writing and threw it in the trash. His wife, Tabitha, recovered the pages from the trash and encouraged him to keep writing the story. What his final draft ended up being was his first novel Carrie, which was accepted by the publishing house Doubleday. Originally, his advance for the book was $2,500, but his paperback rights sold for $400,000. This was about the time that King decided to quit his teaching job to pursue writing as a full-time career.
After Carrie was published, King began writing a series of stories about a gunslinger, Roland in the late 1907’s, which was later adapted into an eight-book epic series called The Dark Tower. In 1982, the small-press Donald M. Grant printed The Dark Tower for the first time in hardcover form with illustrations.
His works have become much-desired entities for television and movie producers — HBO paid $1.5 million for the rights to the novel Rose Madder, and his novel Delores Claiborne, was picked up for film rights before it was even published. King even holds the Guinness World Record for having the highest number of movie adaptations by a living author. His novels Carrie, The Shining, and Green Mile all were adapted into widely popular films, and his short story Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption was made into the film Shawshank Redemption which was nominated for seven Oscar Awards.
Although King has been claiming he will retire since 2002, he has continued to write horror novels, including two in 2013 — Joyland was published in June, and Doctor Sleep, is set to be released on September 24, 2013, which continues where The Shining left off.
Elizabeth Eckert is a film and entertainment blogger for DirectTVcomparison.com. Her first Stephen King novel was It, which she read at age ten and still fears well into her twenties.