Not Just Horror

"So, uh. . . you like Stephen King, huh?"

People usually say this with an air of surprise. How could a preacher -- a Baptist preacher -- like Stephen King. "Doesn't he write that scary stuff?" They ask. Well, yes, sort of.

I've noticed that we live in a world that loves to classify people! You can't just write books, you have to write a type of books. But good authors break the mold! Stephen King does write wonderful horror novels. Fo rexample, The Shining is a great example of good horror.

But, King doesn't JUST write horror. The Body is a coming of age story. Eyes of the Dragon is a children's novel. The Dead Zone, though is is grouped has horror, is really more of a straight character driven novel witha twist. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon is suspense.

Sometimes King leans more toward scifi. For instance Tommyknockers was supposed to be a 1940's sci-fi novel. Of course, it didn't really work -- but it was a nobel and mostly enjoyable try. Dreamcatcher is also scifi and so is From A Buick 8. Most of the stories in Four Past Midnight are science Fiction. The Sun Dog reminded me of a long Twilight Zone episode.

Fantasy is a major Genre for King. The Dark Tower series is King's version of Lord of the Rings. Of course, I like the way King did it better! Eyes of the Dragon fall into the Fantasy catagory of Fantasy. I"m not a fan of the genre -- usually fantasy is just people walking around. But King colors the stories with other genre's! Wonderful to have a western story mixed with horror and fantasy. Ahhh, only Stephen King could do that!

Often a King novel isn't any one "thing." What is the Stand, really? What is Cujo, or Needful Things? They're just good books. Horror? Yes! But there's more than that. The novels are deeper.
Good writers always go beyond the genre. For instance, what eactly did Dicken's write? Legal thriller (Bleak House) or charater novel (Copperfield) or ghost story (Christmas Carol) or social commentary (Hard Times). Life doesn't fall into one catagory, or pity the person who has to live a horror novel! Sometimes horror mixes with romance.
Stephen King at his best is when he is writing stories without conern for any "type." The story tells itself.


  1. Okay, so the post is old, I don't care. I only recently discovered this blog, so I must comment.

    First of all, I also am a Baptist, and a pastor's son, so I totally get it when I talk to my fellow Christians and they look at me like the number 6 has just appeared on my forehead three times when I tell them I love Stephen King, and moreover, not only read but WRITE horror! Gasp!

    I do think you need to read a few of the more modern fantasy classics. They are far more than just "people walking around". Check out nearly anything by Joe Abercrombie. I promise you will not be disappointed.

  2. As for King not just writing horror, I think there's an argument that he's written outside the genre more than within. While there's a dark element to each of his books and stories, they are absolutely not all horror, and of late he seems to really be trying other things.

    If he'd published 11/22/63 under a pseudonym, it would have been racked in general fiction.