Stephen King: Meet One of the Masters of the Macabre


Stephen King

American Author

Stephen King is a New York Times bestselling American novelist and short-story writer who made his mark in the fantasy and horror genres with books like Carrie, IT, Pet Sematary, and The Shining.

Life and Career

Stephen Edwin King, better known as Stephen King, is a New York Times bestselling American novelist and short-story writer who is best known for his work in the horror fiction, suspense, fantasy, and supernatural fiction genre.

Born on September 21, 1947, in Portland, Maine, King lived in a modest house in Scarborough with his family. However, when he was only two years old, his father left the family which left King’s mother to raise him and his brother, David, by herself. Eventually, the family moved from Scarborough, and depended on relatives in Indiana, Chicago, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. When King was eleven, his family returned to Maine, where his mother cared for her parents until they passed.

As a boy, King found a box of fantasy-horror fiction stories and books that had belonged to his father, and read them all. By the time he was seven, he started writing his own stories.

King graduated from the University of Maine in 1970 with a bachelor’s degree in English. He married Tabitha Spruce, a fellow writer, the following year.

After graduating, King taught English at a high school in Maine and supplemented his income by holding a number of part-time jobs, including moonlighting as a janitor and gas pump attendant. He also wrote short stories for several popular magazines; however, he didn’t receive much money from the sale of his stories, and sometimes, he wasn’t paid at all.

Throughout it all, King continued to write until finally, in 1973, he had his breakthrough novel, Carrie. Though it was not King’s first novel, Carrie was the first to be published and set his career in motion. It also became a significant novel in the horror genre.

Carrie tells the tale of a tormented teenage girl gifted with telekinetic powers who gets revenge on her peers. The book was an immediate popular success after being published, allowing him to devote himself to writing full time. It was later adapted for the big screen with Sissy Spacek as Carrie White.

More popular novels soon followed, and Carrie was only the first of many novels in which King blended the macabre, horror, science fiction, and fantasy. Some of his other notable works, include ‘Salem’s Lot (1975), The Shining (1977), The Dead Zone (1979), IT (1986), The Dark Half (1989), and Dreamcatcher (2001) – just to name a few.

Throughout his career, King used several pseudonyms, including Richard Bachman, John Swithen, and Beryl Evans to publish several short stories, including Rage (1977), Thinner (1984), The Fifth Quarter (1972), and Charlie the Choo-Choo: From the World of The Dark Tower (2016).

King married Tabitha Spruce, a fellow novelist and philanthropic activist, on January 1971. The couple owns several homes and divides their time between the three: one in Lovell, Maine; one in Bangor, Maine, and one off the Gulf of Mexico in Sarasota, Florida. The Kings have three children; two sons and a daughter, and four grandchildren.

King’s Addiction and Car Accident

In the early 1970s, King struggled with a drinking problem – a problem that plagued him for over a decade. Soon after Carrie’s release, King’s mother passed away; King wrote about his severe drinking problem at the time, stating that he was drunk while delivering her mother’s eulogy. In 2000, King acknowledges in On Writing that his addictions to alcohol and other drugs were so bad that he can barely writing Cujo. Shortly after the novel’s release, King’s family and friends finally staged an intervention. As King revealed in his memoir, he sought help immediately after that, quitting all drugs, including alcohol, in the late 1980s. He has remained sober since.

King had his own personal experience with horror on the afternoon of June 1999. While King was walking on the shoulder Maine State Route 5 in Lovell, Maine, a minivan hit him from behind. King landed about four meters from the pavement of Route 5. He suffered from multiple injuries, including a scalp laceration, a collapsed right lung, a broken hip, and multiple fractures of his right leg, which required several operations and an extended stay at the hospital. Furthermore, the bones in his leg were so shattered that they considered amputating it, but they were able to stabilize it with an external fixator. After several surgeries and physical therapy, he was able to resume work on On Writing, though his hip was still shattered and he could sit for only around forty minutes at a time before the pain became too much.

Stephen King Net Worth

King’s books have sold over 350 million copies around the world, several of which have also been adapted into successful feature films, comic books, and television shows. As of 2020, King’s net worth is estimated to be around $400 million dollars, making him one of the highest-paid authors in the world.

Stephen King Books (Best Stephen King Books)

Stephen King has hundreds of short stories and novels throughout his career. However, some of his most defining work are:

  1. Carrie (1974)
  2. IT (1986)
  3. The Shining (1977)
  4. ‘Salem’s Lot (1975)
  5. Misery (1987)
  6. The Dark Tower Series (1982-2012)
  7. Pet Sematary (1983)
  8. The Dead Zone (1979)
  9. Lisey’s Story (2006)
  10. The Long Walk (1979) (released under the pseudonym Richard Bachman)

Stephen King Books in Order

Here is a complete list of King’s books in chronological order.

  • Carrie (1974)
  • ‘Salem’s Lot (1975)
  • The Shining (1977)
  • Rage (1977)
  • Night Shift (1978)
  • The Stand (1978)
  • The Long Walk (1979) (under the pseudonym Richard Bachman)
  • The Dead Zone (1979)
  • Firestarter (1980)
  • Roadwork (1981) (under the pseudonym Richard Bachman)
  • Danse Macabre (1981)
  • Cujo (1981)
  • The Running Man (1982) (under the pseudonym Richard Bachman)
  • The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger (1982)
  • Different Seasons (1982)
  • Christine (1983)
  • Cycle of the Werewolf (1983)
  • Pet Sematary (1983)
  • The Eyes of the Dragon (1984)
  • The Talisman (1984) with Peter Straub
  • Thinner (1984) (under the pseudonym Richard Bachman)
  • Skeleton Crew (1985)
  • IT (1986)
  • The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three (1987)
  • Misery (1987)
  • The Tommyknockers (1987)
  • The Dark Half (1989)
  • The Stand: The Complete & Uncut Edition (1990)
  • Four Past Midnight (1990)
  • The Dark Tower: The Waste Lands (1991)
  • Needful Things (1991)
  • Gerald’s Game (1992)
  • Dolores Claiborne (1992)
  • Nightmares & Dreamscapes (1993)
  • Insomnia (1994)
  • Rose Madder (1995)
  • The Green Mile (1996)
  • Desperation (1996)
  • The Regulators (1996) (under the pseudonym Richard Bachman)
  • The Dark Tower: Wizard and Glass (1997)
  • Bag of Bones (1998)
  • The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon (1999)
  • Hearts in Atlantis (1999)
  • Storm of the Century (1999)
  • On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (2000)
  • Dreamcatcher (2001)
  • Black House (2001) with Peter Straub
  • Everything’s Eventual (2001)
  • From a Buick 8 (2002)
  • The Dark Tower: Wolves of the Calla (2003)
  • The Dark Tower: Song of Susannah (2004)
  • The Dark Tower: The Dark Tower (2004)
  • Faithful (2004) with Stewart O’Nan
  • The Colorado Kid (2005)
  • Cell (2006)
  • Lisey’s Story (2006)
  • The Secretary of Dreams: Volume One (2006)
  • Blaze (2007) (under the pseudonym Richard Bachman)
  • Duma Key (2008)
  • Just After Sunset (2008)
  • Under the Dome (2009)
  • Blockade Billy (2010)
  • The Secretary of Dreams: Volume 2 (2010)
  • Full Dark, No Stars (2010)
  • 11/22/63 (2011)
  • The Dark Tower: The Wind Through the Keyhole (2012)
  • Joyland (2013)
  • The Dark Man (2013)
  • Doctor Sleep (2013)
  • Mr. Mercedes (2014)
  • Revival (2014)
  • Finders Keepers (2015)
  • The Bazaar of Bad Dreams (2015)
  • End of Watch (2016)
  • Charlie the Choo-Choo (2016) (under the pseudonym Beryl Evans)
  • Six Scary Stories selected by Stephen King (2016)
  • Gwendy’s Button Box (2017) with Richard Chizmar
  • Sleeping Beauties (2017) with Owen King
  • The Outsider (2018)
  • Flight or Fright (2018) coedited with Bev Vincent
  • Elevation (2018)
  • The Institute (2019)

For a complete list of King’s written works, including novels, short stories, anthologies, novellas, speeches, and more, visit his website here.

Stephen King Short Stories

King has written around 200 short stories, most of which have been published in book collections. 

Some of his short stories include, Battleground (1978), Crouch End (1980), Beachworld (1985), Home Delivery (1989), Dolan’s Cadillac (1993), Lunch at the Gotham Café (1996), Everything’s Eventual (2002), Graduation Afternoon (2008), Little Green God of Agony (2011), Premium Harmony (2015), and The Turbulence Expert – just to name a few.

View the complete list of King’s short stories, here.

Stephen King Audiobooks

Several of King’s novels are available as audiobooks, including Misery (1995), The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon (1999), Pet Sematary (2001), ‘Salem’s Lot (2004), Blaze (2007), Gerald’s Game (2008), In the Tall Grass (2012), Finders Keepers (2015), and Flight or Fright (2018) – just to name a few. 

View the complete list of King’s audiobooks, here.

Stephen King Quotes (Favorite Quotes from Stephen King)

“The scariest moment is always just before you start.”

“Books are the perfect entertainment: no commercials, no batteries, hours of enjoyment for each dollar spent. What I wonder is why everybody doesn’t carry a book around for those inevitable dead spots in life.” 

“There’s something in us that is very much attracted to madness. Everyone who looks off the edge of a tall building has felt at least a faint, morbid urge to jump. And anyone who has ever put a loaded pistol up to his head… All right, my point is this: even the well-adjusted person is holding onto his or her sanity by a greased rope. I really believe that. The rationality circuits are shoddily built into the human animal.” 

“A lot of us grow up and we grow out of the literal interpretation that we get when we’re children, but we bear the scars all our life. Whether they’re scars of beauty or scars of ugliness, it’s pretty much in the eye of the beholder.”

“Good description is a learned skill, one of the prime reasons why you cannot succeed unless you read a lot and write a lot. It’s not just a question of how-to, you see; it’s also a question of how much to. Reading will help you answer how much, and only dreams of writing will help you with the how. You can learn only by doing.”

“The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them — words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That’s the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller but for want of an understanding ear.”

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