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Linking Young Minds Together
     Volume 2 Issue 27 | July 15 , 2007|


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Author Profile

Stephen King the mystery writer

When King was two years old, his father, Donald Edwin King, deserted his family. His mother, Nellie Ruth Pillsbury, raised King and his adopted older brother David by herself, sometimes under great financial strain. The family moved to Ruth's home town of Durham, Maine, but also spent brief periods in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Stratford, Connecticut.

As a child, King witnessed a gruesome accident one of his friends was caught on a railway track and struck by a train.[1] While this may have inspired King's dark, disturbing creations, King himself dismisses the idea.

King attended Durham Elementary School and Lisbon Falls High School. As a young boy, King was an avid reader of EC's horror comics including Tales from the Crypt, which provided the genesis for his love of horror. His screenplay for Creepshow would later play tribute to the comics. When in school, he wrote stories based on movies he had seen, copying them with a mimeo machine his brother used to publish a newspaper, Dave's Rag, to which King contributed. King sold the stories to friends, but his teachers disapproved and forced him to return his profits.

His first published story was "In a Half-World of Terror" (retitled from "I Was a Teen-Age Grave-robber"), published in a horror fanzine issued by Mike Garrett of Birmingham, Alabama.

From 1966 to 1971, King studied English at the University of Maine at Orono, where he wrote a column entitled "King's Garbage Truck" for the student newspaper, the Maine Campus. He met Tabitha Spruce there; they married in 1971. The campus period in his life is readily evident in the second part of Hearts in Atlantis, and the odd jobs he took on to pay for his studies, including one at an industrial laundry, would later inspire stories such as "The Mangler" and the novel "Roadwork"(as Richard Bachman).

After receiving a Bachelor of Arts in English and a certificate to teach high school, King taught English at Hampden Academy in Hampden, Maine. He and his family lived in a trailer, and he wrote short stories, most for men's magazines, to help make ends meet. As Carrie's introduction relates, if one of his kids got a cold, Tabitha would joke, "Come on, Steve, think of a monster." King also developed a drinking problem which would stay with him for over a decade.

King soon began a number of novels. One of his first ideas was of a young girl with psychic powers, but he grew discouraged and discarded it. His wife later rescued it from the trash and encouraged him to finish it. After completing the novel, he titled it Carrie and sent it to Doubleday. He received a $2,500 advance (not large for a novel, even at that time) but the paperback rights eventually earned $400,000, with half going to the publisher. Soon following its release, his mother died of uterine cancer. His Aunt Emrine read the novel to her before she died.

In On Writing, King admits that at this time he was often drunk and was even intoxicated while delivering his mother's eulogy. [4] He states he was the basis for The Shining's alcoholic father, though he would not admit it (even to himself) for several years.

Shortly after TheTommyknockers' publication, King's family and friends finally intervened, dumping his trash - beer cans, cigarette butts, grams of cocaine, Xanax, Valium, NyQuil, dextromethorphan (cough medicine), and marijuana - on the rug in front of him to show the evidence of his addictions. As King related in his memoir, he sought help and quit all forms of drugs and alcohol in the late 1980s, and has remained sober since.

King will not sign photographs. He feels that is something that should be reserved for movie stars. However, some of his fans have received autographed photos simply by asking.

King spends winter seasons in a waterfront mansion located off the Gulf of Mexico in Sarasota, Florida. Their three children, Naomi Rachel, Joseph Hillstrom King (who appeared in the film Creepshow), and Owen Phillip, are grown and living on their own.

Owen and Joseph are writers; Owen published his first collection of stories, We're All in This Together: A Novella and Stories in 2005. The first collection of stories by Joe Hill (Joseph's pen name), 20th Century Ghosts, was published in 2005 by PS Publishing in a very limited edition, winning the Crawford Award for best new fantasy writer, together with the Bram Stoker Award and the British Fantasy Award for Best Fiction Collection. Tom Pabst will adapt Hill's upcoming novel, Heart-Shaped Box, for a 2007 Warner Bros release.

King's daughter Naomi spent the past two years as a Reverend in the Unitarian Universalist Church in Utica, New York, where she lived with her partner; she has since been reassigned.


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