The King of Terror


Stephen Edwin King is one of today’s most popular and best selling writers.
King combines the elements of psychological thrillers, science fiction, the paranormal,
and detective themes into his stories. In addition to these themes, King sticks to
using great and vivid detail that is set in a realistic everyday place. Stephen King
who is mainly known for his novels, has broadened his horizons to different types of
writings such as movie scripts, nonfiction, autobiographies, children’s books, and short
stories. While Stephen King might be best known for his novels The Stand and It, some
of his best work that has been published are his short stories such as “The Body” and
“Quitters Inc”. King’s works are so powerful because he uses his experience and
observations from his everyday life and places them into his unique stories.
Stephen Edwin King was born in Portland, Maine, on September 21, 1947, at the
Maine General Hospital. Stephen, his mother Nellie, and his adopted brother David were
left to fend for themselves when Stephen’s father Donald, a Merchant Marine captain,
left one day, to go the store to buy a pack of cigarettes, and never returned. His
fathers leaving had a big indirect impact on King’s life. In the autobiographical work
Danse Macabre, Stephen King recalls how his family life was altered: “After my father
took off, my mother, struggled, and then landed on her feet.” My brother and I didn’t
see a great deal of her over the next nine years. She worked a succession of continuous
low paying jobs.” Stephen’s first outlooks on life were influenced by his older brother
and what he figured out on his own. While young Stephen and his family moved around
the
North Eastern and Central United States. When he was seven years old, they moved to
Stratford, Connecticut. Here is where King got his first exposure to horror. One
evening he listened to the radio adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s story “Mars Is Heaven!”
That night King recalls he “slept in the doorway, where the real and rational light of
the bathroom bulb could shine on my face” (Beaham 16). Stephen King’s exposure to
oral storytelling on the radio had a large impact on his later writings. King tells his
stories in visual terms so that the reader would be able to “see” what was happening in
their own mind, somewhat in the same fashion the way it was done on the radio (Beaham
17). King’s fascination with horror early on continued and was pushed along only a
couple weeks after Bradbury’s story. One day little Stephen was looking through his
mother’s books and came across one named “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr.
Hyde.”
After his mother finished reading the book to him, Stephen was hooked. He immediately
asked her to read it again. King recalls “that summer when I was seven, [my mother]
must have read it to me half a dozen times”(Beaham 17). Ironically that same year,
while Stephen was still seven years old, he went to go see his first horror movie, The
Creature from the Black Lagoon. This is important because Stephen says, “ Since [the
movie], I still see things cinematically. I write down everything I see. What I see,
it seems like a movie to me”(Beaham 17). During this year the biggest event that
probably had the biggest impact on Stephen King’s writing style was the discovery of the
author H. P. Lovecraft. King would later write of Lovecraft, “He struck with the most
force, and I still think, for all his shortcomings, he is the best writer of horror
fiction that America has yet produced”(Beaham 22). In many of Lovecraft’s writings he
always used his present surroundings as the back drop of his stories. King has followed
in his footsteps with the fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine. Castle Rock is a
combination of several towns that King moved to and from with his family in his
childhood. The main town that it resembles is that of Durham, Maine. It was after the
exposure to H. P. Lovecraft’s stories that King first began to write.
While growing up and moving around the way his family did, Stephen had never
been able to feel comfortable and