55 Years Of Terror

by Sayan Panda
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Most of us think, Stephen King’s reign of terror began with “Carrie”, which was published as his 1st novel, in the year 1973. But the fact of the matter is, that King started his journey way back in the year 1967, by selling his first professional short story,” The Glass Floor”, to Startling Mystery Stories in 1967. That was when Stephen King started his journey to become “The King Of Horror.”

Raised Methodist, King lost his belief in organized religion while in high school. Though, he chose to believe in a supreme power. Seeing your best friend run over by a train would scar a child for life. And that is what happened to him. When he returned home, he had flashes of memory of his friend, but was speechless due to the intense shock. It is safe to say that this particular event may have psychologically inspired King’s works. Though, in his words, he stated that the inspiration occurred while rummaging through an attic with his older brother, where he uncovered a paperback version of a H.P. Lovecraft collection of short stories, he remembers as “The Lurker In The Shadows”, that belonged to his father. In an interview, he said that, “I knew that I’d found home when I read the book.”

He displayed an early interest in horror, and began writing for fun while in school, contributing articles to Dave’s Rag, the newspaper his brother published with a mimeograph machine, and later began selling stories to his friends based on movies he had seen.

The first of his stories to be independently published was “I Was A Teenage Grave Robber”, which was serialized over four issues of a fanzine, Comic Review, in 1965. It was republished the following year in revised form, as “In a Half-World of Terror”, in another fanzine, Stories of Suspens. As a teen, King also won a Scholastic Art and Writing Award.

He initially supplemented his laboring wage by selling short stories to men’s magazines such as Cavalier. Night Shift was a collection of his republished short stories. His short story “The Raft” was published in Adam, a men’s magazine.

“Carrie” was King’s 4th novel, but that was the first to be published.It began as a short story intended for Cavalier magazine, but King tossed the first 3 pages in the garbage. Thank God for Tabitha (his wife), that she took out the papers and encouraged him to finish the story, saying she would help him with the female perspective; he followed her advice and expanded it into a novel.


According to The Guardian, “Carrie” “is the story of Carrie White, a highschool student with latent- and then, as the novel progresses, developing- telekinetic powers. It’s brutal in places, affecting in others, and gory in even more.


Doubleday editor sent a telegram to King’s house in late March 1973 which read: “Carrie Officially A Doubleday Book. $2.500 Advance Against Royalties. Congrats, Kid- The Future Lies Ahead , Bill,” and King said that he bought a new Ford Pinto with the advance. Carrie’s success set his career in motion and became a significant novel in the horror genre. In 1976, it was made into a successful horror film.
In the 1987 issue of The Highway Patrolman magazine, King talked about “Salem’s Lot”, and said, “the story seems sort of down home to me. I have a special cold spot in my heart for it!”
After his mother’s death King and his family moved to Boulder, Colorado, and one night while staying in the hotel Shanley, he had a terrifying nightmare about his son being chased by a fire hose, which led him to write “The Shining” which got published in the year 1977. He completed “The Stand” in 1975, and it was published in 1978.

“Different Seasons”, a collection of four novellas with more serious dramatic bent than the horror fiction was published in 1982, that brought him more in the limelight. From the four novellas, three got turned into Hollywood Films. One of them was “The Shawshank Redemption”.


In the following year, King published “It” in 1986, which was the best-selling hardcover novel in the United States that year, and it too, was turned into multiple Hollywood movies.


King began what became a series of interconnected stories about a lone gunslinger, Roland, who pursues the “Man In Black” in an alternate-reality universe in the late 1970s. “The Dark tower: The Gunslinger”, the first of the series, was initially published in five installments by The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, from 1977 to 1981. This continued as an eight-book epic series called “The Dark Tower”, whose books King wrote and published infrequently over 40 years.


In 2006, King published an apocalyptic novel, “Cell,” that featured a sudden force in which every cell phone user turns into a mindless killer, and in the introduction of the book, he stated that he does not use cell phones.


In 2008, King published both a novel, “Duma Key”, and a collection, “Just After Sunset”. The latter featured 13 short stories, including a previously unpublished novella.


In 2009, King published “Ur”, a novel written exclusively for the launch of the second-generation Amazon Kindle. His novel “UnderThe Dome” was published on November 10 of that year, which was a reworking of an unfinished novel he tried writing twice in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and at 1,074 pages, it is the largest novel he has written since “It”. The book debuted at No. 1 in The New York Times Bestseller List.
On the 5th of November 2010, King published his next, which was a collection of four previously unpublished novellas called “Full Dark, No Stars”, right after publishing “Blockade Billy” in April.
“11/22/63”, his next novel was published in November of 2011, and was nominated for the 2012 World Fantasy Award Best Novel. After that King went on a roll, publishing the eighth “Dark Tower” volume, “The Wind Through The Keyhole”, in 2012, and followed it with “Joyland”, a novel about an amusement park serial killer, in April, of the same year.


With a working title “Mr. Mercedes” and inspired by a true event about a woman driving her car into a McDoland’s restaurant, it was originally meant to be a short story, but as he developed it, he knew it was becoming a novel, which he published in the june of 2013. “Revival”, his next, was published on the 11th of November 2014.


The second book of the “Mr. Mercedes” series, “Finders Keepers”, was released on the 2nd of June of 2015. The third book of the trilogy, “End of Watch”, tied up all the knots and was published in the year 2016.


In 2018, he released the novel “The Outsider”, which featured his most famous and loved character Holly Gibney, and the novella “Elevation”. In 2019, he released the novel “The Institute”. In 2020, King released “If It Bleeds”, a collection of four previously unpublished novellas.


King’s quirky definition for talent, in his own words: “If you wrote something for which someone sent you a check, if you cashed the check and it didn’t bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.” His writing process usually starts with imagining a “what if” scenario, such as what would happen if a writer is kidnapped by a sadistic nurse in Colorado.


He broke the fourth wall by including himself as a character in “The Dark Tower” series from “The Dark tower V: Wolves of the Calla onwards.

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