Monday, April 5, 2010
Stephen King. The writer who ¨got typed¨
Cujo. Image from http://www.dreadcentral.com/
Every time I want to rest my mind of so many scholar subjects, I read Stephen King. I´ve read lots of his novels and stories, being my favorite Cujo. And from the stories Apt Pupil, which was also a film.
Apt Pupil is not a horror story, but it´s really intriguing, the psychological suspense, the mind games between a teenager and a retired old Nazi officer. It is very shocking to know, as it happened in a close neighborhood to my parent´s house in Buenos Aires, you have a nice, pacific neighbor, and one day, you discover he was a hard Nazi officer in his youth, who has been hiding in our village for so many years.
I don´t consider all King´s novels and stories are good. Some of them are part of the ¨horror factory¨, nothing else, no value added.
Let us see in these paragraphs taken from the afterword of his book ¨The Shawshank Redemption¨ in Different Seasons, what happened with his editor in New York, at the very beginning of his career.
Shot of the movie ¨Apt Pupil¨. From
¨Although ¨Where do you get your ideas?¨ has always been the question I´m most frequently asked …, the runner-up is undoubtedly this one: ¨Is horror all you write?¨ When I say it isn´t, it´s hard to tell if the questioner seems relieved or disappointed.
Just before the publication of Carrie, my first novel, I got a letter from my editor, Bill Thompson, suggesting it was time to start thinking about what we were going to do for an encore……
I promptly sent to Bill the manuscripts of two novels, one called Blaze and one called Second Coming. Blaze was a melodrama about a huge, almost retarded criminal who kidnaps a baby, planning to ransom it back to the child´s rich parents…and then falls in love with the child instead. Second Coming was a melodrama about vampires taking over a small town in Maine. Both were literary imitations of a sort, Second Coming of Dracula, Blaze of Steinbeck´s Of Mice an Men…..
He read them both over the next couple of weeks…. and I went down to New York from Maine to celebrate the publication of Carrie (April 1974).
The final decision was made on a street corner –Park Avenue and Forty-six Street, in fact. Bill and I were standing there waiting for the light, ….And Bill said ¨I think it should be Second Coming.¨
Well, that was the one I liked better myself –but there was something so oddly reluctant in his voice that I looked at him sharply and asked him what the matter was. ¨It´s just that if you do a book about vampires ad the follow-up to a book about a girl who can move things by mind-power, you´re going to get typed,¨ he said.
¨Typed?¨ I asked, honestly bewildered. I could see no similarities to speak of between vampires and telekinesis. ¨And What?¨
¨As a horror writer,¨he said, more reluctantly still.
¨Oh,¨ I said, vastly relieved. ¨Is that all!¨
¨Give it a few years,¨he said, ¨and see if you still think it´s all¨.
¨Bill,¨ I said, amused, ¨no one can make a living writing just horror stories in America. Lovecraft starved in Providence. Bloch gave it up for suspense novels…The Exorcist was a one-shot. You´ll see¨.
The light changed. Bill clapped me on the shoulder. ¨It think you´re going to be very successful,¨ he said.He was closer to the truth than I was. It turned out that it was possible to make a living writing horror novels in America. Second Coming, eventually entitled Salem´s Lot, did very well.¨