Question -- do you feel like you know Stephen King better than other authors?
I found myself thinking about this as I read The Stand. A character named Joe appears on the scene -- a child who doesn't talk but sure likes knives! Larry Underwood is not a fan of the kid. I thought, "I wonder if Joe is a tribute to his son. Probably same age when it was written." Then I began to think how much I know about King. Strange. I didn't seek to know anything. That's the truth! I just read books.
But I don't know Tom Clancy's kids names. If I work real hard I might come up with Dicken's wife's name -- but I don't remember. I did see Dicken's biography on Biography channel, but it was so cut up and scattered that it offered nothing.
But without much extra effort you learn a lot about King and his family. For one thing, that's because his introductions and commentary's are always so chatty and personal. For another, his writing itself is very personal. Scattered throughout novels are personal nods.
Is it just that I read more King? I read Anne Rice's books for a while. I know she had a husband who died and a son. And I read a book about her return to Christianity (before she un-returned!). But still, there's not that sense of personal connection.
Seems the more you know about an author, the clearer their narrative voice becomes. I suspect one reason readers go back again and again to certain authors is because they feel a connection to them. I know, and disagree with, King's politics. But actually knowing where he's coming from helps me understand what he's writing about.
Now I'm not advocating crazy fandom! In fact, I don't make any attempt -- or want to -- meet King or know him. I'm just a reader. It worries me when I see how crazy people get for a signature in a book or. . . more. But a "constant reader" as King calls us slowly learns more and more about the artist just by reading. Of course, King has made himself available for about 1.6 billion interviews! So that helps. He speaks often on an array of subjects.
One of the things I really respect about King is his love for his wife. Does this make him a better writer? Probably not. But my respect for his treatment of his wife gives me a deeper appreciation for his work.
Now I have read a couple biography's on King. But here's an interesting thing: His biography's all follow the same trail! They focus on his writing career (as they should) instead of personal interactions with family. By the way, George Beahms "Stephen King, America's Best Loved Boogieman" is the best bio out there.
Think about all the stuff you know about King. Isn't that strange? Do you know that stuff about other authors? Did you go out trying to find out those things, or did the information just come bit by bit as you read.