Friday, September 21, 2012

Happy Birthday Stephen King!

I don't know how many of you remember books that stick with you through the years, but the first book by Stephen King that I read, Salem's Lot, has remained in my memory bank since 1977.   I can still remember devouring the book on the sofa desperately trying to finish it before bed.  Big mistake.  I finished it and then promptly dreamt about vampires all night long.  I can remember picking up The Shining early one morning and could not break myself away from it, even holding it in my hand as I stood at the stove fixing dinner.  Since that first title I have read almost every novel and short story published with my all-time favorite, The Stand at the top of the list.  I have probably seen the mini-series based on it over twenty times.  His talent with words and  his wonderful portrayals of his characters make his books hard to put down once you have hit that first paragraph.

Stephen King was born September 21, 1947 in Portland, Maine.  His father left the family when he was two leaving his mother to raise him and his brother David on her own.  They moved to Indiana, Wisconsin and Connecticut before his mother finally settled their little family in Durham, Maine when Stephen was eleven.  He graduated from Lisbon Falls High School and went on the University of Maine and received a Bachelor of Arts in English in 1970.  Stephen started writing stories while in college and once he graduated, he submitted stories to several men's magazines while he awaited word on a teaching job.  He married his wife Tabitha in 1971 and was finally hired as a teacher at Hampden Academy. 

His first novel Carrie was accepted by Doubleday for publication in 1973, but nearly was a heap of paper in the trash.  Stephen had become discouraged with where the novel had progessed, but his wife dug it out and encouraged him to keep at it.  His persistence paid off and he was later awarded $400,000 in paperback rights for the book.  After the death of his mother in 1974 he moved his family to Boulder, Colorado where he wrote The Shining which was eventually published in 1977Stephen then returned to Maine in 1975 and completed the novel The Stand.  He has remained a Maine resident since the late 1970s and set many of his stories and novels in that state. 

King continued to publish bestsellers through the 1980's and 1990's with such best-sellers as The GunslingerFirestarter, and ChristineHe also published some novels under the pseudonym Richard Bachman as he wondered whether his success was a fluke. This might have very well gone unnoticed but for a book clerk in Washington D.C., who could see the similarities in both authors. 

The world may not have any Stephen King novels today as his brush with death on June 19, 1999 (he was hit by a van on a local highway) led him to say he would no longer publish any works.  He had found it difficult to sit more than forty minutes at a time and was unable to deal with the constant pain.  Eventually though, he got better and began writing again.  He published two works that were done exclusively online.  Stephen felt that digital books would be something that publishers would embrace and the e-book industry has indeed exploded onto the publishing scene in the last three years.  He has since published several more novels, written a column for Entertainment Weekly and penned an original comic series American Vampire for DC Comics.  Upcoming works include a sequel to The Shining, titled Doctor Sleep and a new novel about "an amusement-park serial killer".

Stephen has named several authors that influenced his work, such as Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury, H.P. Lovecraft, Shirley Jackson and Elmore Leonard.  Some of his own favorite books include, The Golden Argosy, Lord of the Flies, Nineteen-Eighty Four, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Blood Meridian.  Many of his short stories and novels have been adapted into blockbuster movies, such as The Green MileStand by Me and The Shawshank Redemption.  Television movies and mini-series include The Stand, The Langoliers, The TommyKnockers and Storm of the Century.  He has produced Kingdom Hospital and wrote an episode of The X-Files with Chris Carter titled Chinga.  Some of the numerous awards that Stephen has won include the Bram Stoker award, the Locus award, a Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters from the National Book Foundation and the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America.

Hopefully "Uncle Stevie" as he is affectionately known,  will continue to churn out books that never cease to enthrall and delight his millions of fans around the world. 

If you want to try one of his books or relive the magic all over again, there are over three-hundred titles to choose from in the library catalog and are available in several formats, e-book, audiobook, e-audiobook, print and the new Playaway audiobook. 

You can also find more about Stephen King online at his official website.

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