Humans do their utmost to avoid being in scary, suspenseful situations, and yet humans built a multimillion publication and entertainment industry based entirely on the scary and the suspenseful. Every year (and this happens not just on Halloween), Hollywood offers us a roster of suspense thrillers, horror mysteries, and other movies in between. Bookstores dedicate whole walls and shelves to the mystical and the spine-tingling.
If you would look closely, you would realize that always present among these shelves is a Stephen King book. Just what is it about horror, suspense, and “the King” have that got people hooked up? Even in video stores, racks reserved for horror movies contain at least one movie adaptation of a Stephen King book. Is it his writing style? His dry humor at times? The witty banters and dialogues? The characters you can easily identify with and relate to, who are ordinary people he placed in extraordinary situations? His frank, straight-to-the-point narrative? Or is it his insane ideas – the way he transforms ordinary things into something macabre and suspicious – that hold readers into his power to entertain, frighten, and terrify?
King’s Horror Portfolio
Stephen King’s writing career spans forty years, covering numerous works from the first stories he wrote as a teenager growing up in Maine to his work collaborations and recent publications in the second decade of the 2000s.
To date, author Stephen King has penned 70 books, 49 of which are bone-chilling novels; seven are terrifying tales under his pseudonym Richard Bachman; five non-fiction works; and nine collections of scary short stories. His works have been adapted to television, film, and comic books. Even the early movie adaptations of Stephen King books that date back to the ’70s and ’80s get revived into television shorts or series well into the ’90s and the 2000s.
Due to his prolific writing and boundless imagination, King has been given many monikers that range from “Horror King” to “Master of Suspense”. He received numerous literary awards for his contribution to literature: O. Henry Awards in 1996, Quill Awards in 2005, National Book Foundation in 2003, a lifetime achievement award from the National Book Awards in 2003; and in the suspense and horror genre in particular: World Horror Convention, World Fantasy Awards, Science Fiction and Fantasy Awards of America, Mystery Writers of America Awards, British Fantasy Society Awards, the Locus Awards, the International Horror Guild Awards, and so many others.
His name continues to make the nomination rosters of award-giving bodies in literature, and Stephen King books are always present in annual bestseller lists. Needless to say, he has established for himself a loyal following among readers who enjoy his sharp prose, witty dialogues, and suspenseful plot and plot twists.
Stephen King’s Horror Legacy
Just as movie director Alfred Hitchcock left behind a legacy in making horror and suspense movies, Stephen King has made a huge influence into the writing of novels in the horror and suspense genre. One of the key features he has introduced into popular culture in general is the idea of turning the usual into the unusual, the harmless into something very dangerous. He plays with our expectation of what things and people are based solely on what we perceive of them. For example, in his classic novel Misery, the premise is simple: a horror writer was hurt and trapped in a snowstorm in a small, rural town. A woman helped him and offered her house to him so he could recuperate while waiting for help. The woman, middle-aged and still single, turned out to be a huge fan of his and had professed to be his “number one fan”. The story, if you don’t know it yet, twists and spirals down into a dark abyss without changing the simple premise of an author stuck in a snowstorm with his number one fan.
Think you can handle a little paranoia? Read Stephen King books now and experience what generations of readers encountered when they first read the Horror King’s tales.