The Shining Scared King

10,000 Magazines, #9993
People Weekly, March 7, 1977

Tame warp back to 1977.  People Magazine is where you would have to go to find out about celebrities; because there was no google.   Funny thing, the magazine pictures are in black and white -- except the ads.

Frank Sleeper's article about King was written just as the Shining was published, and a novel about "a flu" was being edited.  

"It's the first time I was actually scared as I was  writing," says Stephen King, 29, about his latest chiller, The Shining.  The novel set in the shuttered Colorado resort hotel filled with menacing spirits centers on the father who is unable  to control his rages."
The article discusses King's sudden wealth, and the trappings that go with it -- via 1977.  That would be an uh, color TV!

I like these old magazines with King articles because it gives us glimpses of things a little closer to when they happened.  So King discussing his work on The Shining is a little different in 1977 than it is in 2014.  It was still fresh. And, as you'll see in the quotes below, it was pretty raw.

"I felt very hostile to my children there," says King.  "I wanted to grab them and hit them.  Even though I didn't do it, I had severe guilt feelings because of my brutal impulses."  
Four years ago King was earning 6,700 a year teaching English at the Hampden Academy in Hampden Maine.  He and his family were living in a trailer and his car was ready for the junk yard.  "We had taken our phone out, because we couldn't pay for it," says King. He was moonlighting in an industrial laundry.  "There was a woman whom I met at the laundry, very strange, always quoting the Bible," says King.  "I thought, if she has children, I wonder what they're like.  That's where I got my idea for Carrie."   
King got a $2,500 advance for it, and movie rights sold for $35,000 plus a percentage of the movie gross.  The paperback rights brought him another $200,000.  "Tabby cried," King recalls.  "We called all our relatives.  It took eight months for it to sink it."
In 1975 Salem's Lot, a nightmarish tale about vampires taking over a Maine community, achieved another hefty paperback sale and a movie price of $250,000. 
 The two books have sold over three million copies, and King now reigns as the book world prince of horror.  "Money actually makes you a little saner," says King.  "You don't have to do the things you don't want to do."  
His success has not slowed his productivity.  He writes for two hours each morning and has finished a fourth novel about a spooky flu epidemic.  "My wife reads everything," he says.  "I set a lot of store by her opinion.  I think Carrie is her favorite because once, when gave up on it, and threw it int he waste basket, she fished it out.  She told me it was terrific."   
Born in Portland Maine, King recalls a hardscrabble early life.  His father, a merchant mariner, left King's mother when the boy was two.  Steve, an English major, graduated from the University of Maine, where he met Tabitha, who was studying history.  Except for their $150,000 three bedroom house in Bridgton Maine, the King's live a fairly modest life. "But we certainly have more material things than before -- a Cadillac, a four year old color TV," says millionaire King.  "We go to the movies.  We swim in the summer.  We went to Hawaii for a couple of weeks, and we went Florida."  
King likes to ski cross-country and play the guitar and a friendly game of poker. He takes pills to keep his high blood pressure under control.  He also munches on aspirin to ease his migraines.  "They are strictly a work symptom," he says.  
On a personal note -- I'm sitting in a hospital room with my wife, who is reading me this article.  She's here for high blood pressure.  She paused when she read that, raising an eyebrow.
For King writing horror fiction is like psycho analyzing yourself in public.  "I'm externalizing my own fears and those of many others," he says.  He admits a few of his literary predecessors -- like Poe and Bram Stoker -- were peculiar types.  But insists, "I'm the nicest sort of fellow you'd want to me."
Someone ought to write a book discussing King and Poe. 

1 comment:

  1. For some reason, I can't see King as a skier. I can see him as jogger (though not anymore, perhaps) or a treadmill user, but not skiing.

    As for King and Poe, I did find this one article on Poe and New England literature by a guy named Paul Elmer More in a series he called "Shelburne Essays".

    It's an Internet Archive Text so getting to the article takes some digital leafing through pages, but it's informative once you find it. The article is called "The Origins of Hawthorne and Poe":