There was a period of time I was mystified by the work of Stephen King. I have never liked the horror genre and believed it would always be that way. Of course, I’m still not a fan of gory films but I have found that the novels of Stephen King have all been books I could not put down, at least of the ones I have read so far.
It all began when I took a Gothic Literature course during college. I wasn’t keen on the idea but it was a class I needed and it fit in the time slot that I needed it too. The first day of class I realized what I was truly going to have to deal with, books like “The Turn of the Screw” by Henry James, “The Haunting of Hill House” by Shirley Jackson, and “The Shining” by Stephen King. The course began lightly, taking us through an anthology of Gothic work. I was surprised to learn that these thrilling stories were not as scary as I believed them to be. It was when I read “The Veldt” by Ray Bradbury that I truly began to enjoy the class. “The Veldt” is placed in a futuristic world in which technology has advanced far enough that humans can create living landscapes within their homes. The landscapes change according to the children’s moods and thoughts; It is their own short of virtual reality and the kids seem to love it more than their parents. Suspicious happenings begin when the parents go into the room, weird lion roars, strange ripped clothing. It ends with the children inside the room reading and the lions eating “something” off in the distance giving the reader the impression that the kids ‘trained’ the lions through their minds to kill their parents. It opened up new ways of thinking, about how horror can be incredibly psychological and still terrifying. Horror is a genre that can really make a reader think about the content they are reading.
It was sometime after that when I grew excited to read “The Shining”. Our professor had hinted about the contents of the novel while we read through her syllabus. I was even lucky enough that I hadn’t seen Stanley Kubrick’s movie adaptation. Except for the general plot I was completely in the dark. Finally, the day came that we were able to begin reading; I wasn’t able to put the book down. Not only was it written well, something I was nervous about because of the size of Stephen King’s body of work, it was also creating classroom discussion that was amazing. The professor had filled her syllabus full of works that Stephen King pulled from for “The Shining”. It was an amazing experience to realize that King had truly thought through his work and created something real. He leads the reader through a beautifully terrifying world and uses references from other classic Gothic tales to embellish his story and bring it to life.
Writing is a lot of work, but creating a work with depth and feeling is even more difficult. Even though this was a short description of my descent into the works of Stephen King, I hope it has encouraged you to try one of his novels.