Love him or leave, you’ve got to admit – Stephen King has done a lot for the modern horror genre over the past several decades.
Not only did his novel ‘Carrie’ grab the world by storm and shake up the ideas of what ‘horror’ writing was, but it started the career of one of the world’s most prolific and widely read authors. Not to mention one of the most film-adapted authors ever.
Today is the 40th anniversary of ‘Carrie’ (initially published on April 5, 1974), the novel was King’s first to be published, and when he’d first started it, he’d actually tossed it in the bin.
The next night, when I came home from school, my wife Tabby had the pages. She’d spied them while emptying my waste-basket, had shaken the cigarette ashes off the crumpled balls of paper smoothed them out and sat down to read them. She wanted me to go on. She wanted to know the rest of the story. (Source: The Guardian)
Aren’t we all glad she did?
For me, I started reading King’s books as a young teen in the mid 80’s, and was instantly enthralled .. and scared shitless at the same time. His books were the first to introduce me to the world of horror and suspense.. which eventually lead me to authors such as Anne Rice, Clive Barker, Dean Koontz, and so many others that I still read to this day.
But the thing that got me to stick with his books was how, no matter whether you liked the main character or not, you could always identify with something they were going through in the story. It could be Carrie White’s feeling of being ostracized from her peers in ‘Carrie’, or the gang’s fear of Pennywise the Clown in ‘IT’, or even Rose’s desire for a new life away from her abusive husband in ‘Rose Madder’.
The point is, there is something in each of his characters that makes you want to root for them. Hell, there’s even some traits in the bad guys that make you want to cheer for (some of) them as well, and that’s a testament to King’s skill at characterization.
A skill I am working on as I foray into fiction myself.
As someone who’s mostly written blog posts or articles from my own perspective, it’s interesting to look at things differently while writing fiction.. and realise that even if I understand the character’s motives or thoughts behind what they’re doing, my reader won’t unless I show them through the writing itself.
Let’s just say it’s a work in progress. 😀