Is this the truth behind why literary icon Stephen King started writing horror stories?
Stephen King has written a lot of books.
In his 69 years he has written an astounding 56 novels, and 200 short stories. And it's not as if these stories are short disposable things to be thrown aside either. I can attest to that, after I have recently finished 'It', the book that was recently adapted into a box office hit.
That novel is an overwhelming 1,138 pages long, and is packed with some of the most grotesque and terrifying things a human mind can imagine. There's no end to the horrific things King can conjure up on the page, as he is responsible for dozens of horror stories you may know better from their big screen outings.
He wrote The Shining, Christine, Carrie, The Running Man, Misery, Cujo, and The Mist. Outside of the horror flicks, he wrote other stories that made it to films, such as the fantasy epic The Dark Tower, and Stand By Me - which comes from the short story The Body in the collection Different Seasons. Even The Shawshank Redemption is one of King's, based on a novella from the same book.
The one question that everyone wants to ask is where the inspiration for these stories comes from. What happened to Stephen King that gave him such an insight into the evil in the world, and motivated him to give us the terrifying Pennywise the Clown, is something fans have been intrigued by for years.
It turns out that one story from his childhood may shed light on where this all comes from. In his early childhood, in 1950s Maine (the setting of It), he had a shocking experience:
"The event occurred when I was barely four. According to mom, I had gone off to play at a neighbour’s house – a house that was near a railroad line. About an hour after I left, I came back, she said ‘as white as a ghost.’
"I would not speak for the rest of the day. I would not tell her why I’d not waited to be picked up or phoned that I wanted to come home. I would not tell her why my chum’s mom hadn’t walked me back, but had allowed me to come home alone.
"It turned out that the kid I had been playing with had been run over by a train while playing on or crossing the tracks. My mom never knew if I had been near him when it happened. But I have no memory of the incident at all, only of having been told about some years after the fact."
Could this be the darkness at the centre of his writings? It does explain some of the things he's written, such as the shock the characters in Stand By Me suffer from after finding a dead body, or the memory-blocking trauma experienced in 'It'. But the author has since rebutted this idea as ludicrous:
"I believe this is a totally specious idea – such shoot-from-the-hip psychological judgements are little more than jumped-up astrology."
He's pretty on-point when it comes to the idea of strangers analysing an author based on one story, but it does sound like a child who experiences something like that might grow up understanding the dark parts of life a little better than most. In turn, his work has greatly affected others. For instance, did you know that fans are dressing up as Pennywise the Clown to see 'It'?