Stephen King: 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 settle down in one place and make
friends they way other kids his age did (Underwood 77). Around the age of
twelve the King family finally settled in the town of Durham, Maine. For
Stephen King, Durham was the place where his imagination began to shine.