Stephen King & Me: Neighbors in a Scary World

I often get asked where ideas come from. And now that I’ve written a dark book with a body count, I get asked that even more–probably because it seems so unlike. At my publisher’s blog, I explain how I got here and why it’s Stephen King’s fault.

When I was a kid growing up in the 1970’s there was no question who haunted my dreams: Stephen King. He was a neighbor of a sort: I spent most of the year living with my mom in rural Maine, not pretty-coastal-sailboat Maine but poor-inland-factory Maine. King lived north of me by a half hour, but considering the size of the state and the fact that he too came from the Maine not on postcards, this seemed to fall easily within the neighborly category.

I was a good Seventh-day Adventist boy, who once burned a KISS poster in a bonfire, the flames of which were literally stoked by a schoolteacher. I didn’t play with guns and I was by nature more kiss-kiss than bang-bang. So on some levels it made no sense that I was hooked on King’s eerie, sometimes supernatural, always disturbing novels. But I was also a default storyteller: whether it was testimony at camp-meeting or making people laugh (say, by recounting the time a classmate’s mother walked into school to find a boa constrictor wrapped around my neck), I couldn’t resist the lure of a tale and having someone to tell it to.

Salem’s Lot was my entry point for scary books and let me tell you: if you live in a New England house with a dank earthen cellar, there is very little you want to do less than to go down those old wooden steps in the dark after reading Salem’s Lot. I was at once repulsed by the horrors in the book and thrilled by the way the plot kept turning. Reading Stephen King as a tween was for me the equivalent of driving by a car crash: look, don’t look, LOOK. 

Keep reading here…





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