At some point in the 1970s, I was teaching English at a private school in Vero Beach. The pay was terrible, but I lived within a block of the beach and I liked most of the kids I taught.
One day, a student in my eighth grade English class, Brian, cornered me during lunch and handed me a book. “Ms. Trish, you gotta read this. It’s the best book I’ve ever read and since you’re a writer, too, I think you’re going to love this.”
At that point in my life, my writing consisted mostly of depressing poetry. The book was The Shining by Stephen King. I read it over a weekend and on the following Monday, brought it to school and returned it to Brian. “Fantastic. This afternoon, I’m heading over to Vero Beach Bookstore to buy whatever else this guy has written.”
“Carrie and Salem’s ‘Lot,” Brian said.
And that’s how my love of Stephen King books began. With an eighth grader. In the years since, as King has continued to write and write and write, I’ve bought and read, bought and read. And bought and read and written my own books. People who dislike King’s “horror,” love his other books, like The Green Mile, Firestarter, The Running Man… Thing is, King was never a genre writer, never just a horror writer. He’s a storyteller.
In Your Creative Stars, an astrology book I wrote on creativity, I used King’s chart for Virgo. His gift for detail, for engaging all our senses, our emotions: that’s Virgo. His moon in Sagittarius in the fifth house of creativity is why we are treated to other worlds – his Dark Towers series, for instance. That moon is also why he always gives us the larger emotional picture of his characters. The moon rules our emotions, Sagittarius rules the big picture, foreign travel – and publishing. His Cancer rising, with Mars closely conjunct, suggests a nurturing quality as a human being. Both of his sons- Joe Hill and Owen King – are writers.
At some point in the 1990s, Megan and I drove to one of the Miami Book fairs. We got lost, had trouble finding parking, but when we finally got out of the car – there was Stephen King, about 300 yards away, talking to someone. He’d just gotten out of a car – limo? – still parked at the curb.
“Oh my God, Mom,” Megan burst out. “It’s him. Go over there, tell him how much you love his books.”
Yeah, sure, Megan. This is the guy who wrote Misery, about an overzealous fan. We just stood there, staring, and later went to his talk. Megan is now an avid consumer of anything King and is writing her own novel. That’s the thing with King. For anyone with aspirations or talent for writing, start with King. He’s how I learned to write. He taught me about back stories, the inner worlds of characters, and that it’s okay to tackle the weird and the strange if your characters are emotionally real.
When The Dark Tower movie came out and got such awful reviews, Megan and I saw it and loved it. We left the theater marveling at the whole thing. We figured the negatives had come from avid fans of the books who wanted, well, the depth that writing provides.
I follow him on Twitter and get a kick out of his comments about trump. When trump blocked him, I was nearly hysterical with glee. When JK Rowling told King not to worry, that trump hadn’t blocked her yet and she had King’s back, I texted Megan, who had already seen it.
Recently, our friend Dwane Elmore was flying back from Oklahoma and had a layover in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was sitting at the bar and realized that the man standing next to him, talking to the bartender about terrible trump, was none other than Stephen King.
Dwane sat there quietly, sipping his martini, listening. After King left, Dwane asked the waitress if she knew who that man was. “Some Hollywood celebrity,” the bartender replied.
Uh, lady, that was Stephen King.
Cultural and literary icon.
I’m so envious of Dwane. I would love to spend hours talking to King, but would settle for a minute or two or politics, books, writing.
Thank you, again, Stephen King, for hours and hours of pleasurable reading!