Stephen Edwin King was born on September 21, 1947, at the Maine General Hospital in Portland. His parents were Nellie Ruth (Pillsbury), who worked as a caregiver at a mental institute, and Donald Edwin King, a merchant seaman. His father was born under the surname "Pollock", but used the last name "King", under which Stephen was born. He has an older brother, David. The Kings were a typical family until one night, when Donald said he was stepping out for cigarettes and was never heard from again. Ruth took over raising the family with help from relatives. They traveled throughout many states over several years, finally moving back to Durham, Maine, in 1958.
Stephen began his actual writing career in January of 1959, when David and Stephen decided to publish their own local newspaper named "Dave's Rag". David bought a mimeograph machine, and they put together a paper they sold for five cents an issue. Stephen attended Lisbon High School, in Lisbon, in 1962. Collaborating with his best friend Chris Chesley in 1963, they published a collection of 18 short stories called "People, Places, and Things--Volume I". King's stories included "Hotel at the End of the Road", "I've Got to Get Away!", "The Dimension Warp", "The Thing at the Bottom of the Well", "The Stranger", "I'm Falling", "The Cursed Expedition", and "The Other Side of the Fog." A year later, King's amateur press, Triad and Gaslight Books, published a two-part book titled "The Star Invaders".
King made his first actual published appearance in 1965 in the magazine Comics Review with his story "I Was a Teenage Grave Robber." The story ran about 6,000 words in length. In 1966 he graduated from high school and took a scholarship to attend the University of Maine. Looking back on his high school days, King recalled that "my high school career was totally undistinguished. I was not at the top of my class, nor at the bottom." Later that summer King began working on a novel called "Getting It On", about some kids who take over a classroom and try unsuccessfully to ward off the National Guard. During his first year at college, King completed his first full-length novel, "The Long Walk." He submitted the novel to Bennett Cerf/Random House only to have it rejected. King took the rejection badly and filed the book away.
He made his first small sale--$35--with the story "The Glass Floor". In June 1970 King graduated from the University of Maine with a Bachelor of Science degree in English and a certificate to teach high school. King's next idea came from the poem by Robert Browning, "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came." He found bright colored green paper in the library and began work on "The Dark Tower" saga, but his chronic shortage of money meant that he was unable to further pursue the novel, and it, too, was filed away. King took a job at a filling station pumping gas for the princely sum of $1.25 an hour. Soon he began to earn money for his writings by submitting his short stories to men's magazines such as Cavalier.
On January 2, 1971, he married Tabitha King (born Tabitha Jane Spruce). In the fall of 1971 King took a teaching job at Hampden Academy, earning $6,400 a year. The Kings then moved to Hermon, a town west of Bangor. Stephen then began work on a short story about a teenage girl named Carietta White. After completing a few pages, he decided it was not a worthy story and crumpled the pages up and tossed them into the trash. Fortunately, Tabitha took the pages out and read them. She encouraged her husband to continue the story, which he did. In January 1973 he submitted "Carrie" to Doubleday. In March Doubleday bought the book. On May 12 the publisher sold the paperback rights for the novel to New American Library for $400,000. His contract called for his getting half of that sum, and he quit his teaching job to pursue writing full time. The rest, as they say, is history.
Since then King has had numerous short stories and novels published and movies made from his work. He has been called the "Master of Horror". His books have been translated into 33 different languages, published in over 35 different countries. There are over 300 million copies of his novels in publication. He continues to live in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, and writes out of his home.
In June 1999 King was severely injured in an accident, he was walking alongside a highway and was hit by a car, that left him in critical condition with injuries to his lung, broken ribs, a broken leg and a severely fractured hip. After three weeks of operations, he was released from the Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston.
- IMDb Mini Biography By: Christian Skibinski
Usually sets stories in Maine, particularly (until "Needful Things") in the small town of Castle Rock, which he created.
Almost always has a cameo in the movies or mini-series based on his novels
Horror and fantasy themes
Children in his books often are killed such as Tad in "Cujo", Gage in "Pet Sematary", Ray Brauer in "The Body")
Often depicts small-town life, particularly in the fictional Castle Rock, as having a dark and dangerous underside to it.
Common theme is characters being isolated or trapped from the outside world.
Newspapers reported that he has bought the van that hit him on June; he plans to hammer it to pieces on the anniversary of the accident. [September 1999]
Revealed that he is suffering from macular degeneration, a currently incurable condition which will most likely lead to blindness. [May 1999]
HBO paid $1.5 million for the rights to the novel "Rose Madder". [October 1996]
King published seven novels ("Rage", "The Long Walk", "Roadwork", "The Running Man", "Thinner", "The Regulators" and "Blaze") under the pseudonym Richard Bachman.
Met his wife Tabitha King while the two were working at the Fogler Library as students at the University of Maine in Orono, Maine.
His daughter Naomi wed her 54-year-old lesbian partner Thandeka (who is a theological school teacher) in Nashville, Tennessee. [June 2000]
Scored in the 1300s on the SAT.
Wrote "The Running Man", a 304-page novel, in only ten days.
Certified by Guinness Superlatives (the "Book of World Records" group) as having the most number of motion picture adaptations by a living author.
Contributed a short monologue to two versions of the Blue Öyster Cult song "Astronomy" (from the out-of-print "Imaginos" album) on a promotional CD single.
- Underwent surgery to remove scar tissue and fluid
from his lungs from a bout of pneumonia. [November 2003]
Dogs are often described as monsters or -- the opposite -- victims in his books and films (like Cujo (1983) or Pet Sematary (1989)).
He is the most successful American writer in history.
A recovering alcoholic, King noted in his book "On Writing" that he was drunk virtually the whole time of writing the book "Cujo" and to this day barely remembers writing any of it.
Biography/bibliography in: "Contemporary Authors". New Revision Series, vol. 134, pages 256-271. Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale, 2005.
Writes reviews of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series for Entertainment Weekly magazine.
The fictional town of Castle Rock is located in Maine. Stand by Me (1986), accidentally set it in Oregon. This is because the original story, "The Body," only mentions that Castle Rock is near Portland, without identifying which state. It is only identified as being in Maine in his other stories. The only clues in "The Body" that it takes place in Maine is the fact that the local radio stations begin with W, which, with only a few exceptions, applies only to stations east of the Mississippi River.
Son Joseph Hillstrom King is also a novelist. He spent the past several years writing under the pen name Joe Hill, the name of a labor leader who is also his namesake.
Cites Sir William Golding's novel Lord of the Flies as a major influence on him. One of the chapters in that book was "Castle Rock," which later became the name of a fictional town in several of King's stories.
In his book "On Writing", he states that as punishment for making fun of Ellen Margitan, the vice principal of Lisbon High, he is sent to the offices of the Lisbon Enterprise to work with the editor, John Gould which he states is not "the" John Gould. In fact, it was "the" John Gould, famous Maine humorist and it was John Gould that helped King develop into a writer that people wanted to read.
After watching the first cut of Rob Reiner 's Stand by Me (1986), he was said to be crying and stated it was the closest adaptation to one of his novels he'd ever seen.
Controversially, King once wrote a complimentary "Blurb" for the back cover of L. Ron Hubbard's book "Fear".
His characters frequently meet other characters from other Stephen King books. In Tommyknockers, for example, poet Jim Gardner encounters Jack, from The Talisman, on a beach.
As a little boy he had a recurring nightmare in which he entered a room and saw a suicide victim hanging from the ceiling. He later incorporated this scene into an early book, Salem's Lot.
Famously disliked Stanley Kubrick's The Shining (1980), which was adapted from his novel of the same name. King was opposed to the casting of Jack Nicholson who, in his opinion, did not accurately portray the gradual descent into madness that the book had described. He also lamented that many story elements, some of them autobiographical and important to King, had not been included, such as alcoholism and his father issue. King therefore produced a mini series of The Shining (1997) that follows his novel more closely, but is generally regarded as inferior to Kubrick's interpretation.
In 2011, his fondness for the Harry Potter books came full circle, when it was announced that Potter director David Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves would be making a new adaptation of his novel The Stand.
A rumor circulated for years that he did not want to complete his novel "Pet Sematary" as it frightened him to do any writing for it. King or Doubleday (the publisher) may have started the story and while not exactly true it is partially based in fact. King fell into a depression while writing it and had no desire to complete it while feeling the strong melancholy.
The first author to have three simultaneous titles on the publishers weekly list: Firestarter, The Dead Zone, and The Shining.
All three of his children as well as his wife have followed his footsteps into writing.
His favourite way of relaxing is to take a bath while smoking a cigarette, and listen to a Red Sox game on the radio, propped on the sink. He would also drink a beer during the days when he was an alcoholic.
In later years, movie studios and production companies snapped up the film rights for King novels before the books saw print, e.g. Delores Claiborne.
King once flew on a plane that ran into turbulence. The oxygen mask came out, and his seat was ripped from the floor and he landed on his side, still strapped in. It was a while before he could get on a plane again.
Never answers his own phone.
In 1993, King played with the Rock Bottom Remainders to sell-out arenas.
King gets depressed when people say The Stand is his best book because that was written three decades ago and implies he hasn't written anything as good since.
During King's recovery after being knocked down by a van in 1999, he was appalled when he was hooked up to a morphine drip, what with his former past as a drug addict. He didn't become re-addicted by doctors keeping him below the recommended dose. He could feel the craving bubbling to the surface, but this time experience prepared him to recognize the danger signs. By the time he came home, he had lost 40 pounds. None of the nurses cracked any "Misery" jokes but he said he would have appreciated the dark irony. He could only write for up to an hour and a half every day, so he spent the Winter in Florida; the warm weather would aid his recovery. He still needs to walk with a cane though. After accepting a literary award in 2003, he had a relapse and had to spend another month in hospital. He weighed 160 pounds and nearly died. Tabitha took the opportunity to refurbish his office.
Has a fear of therapists. He had to conquer that fear during the worst stages of his alcoholism and drug addiction.
Hates being famous. He's also uncomfortable in large crowds.
Repeated the first grade because of frequent absences.
Because The Shining came from a very personal place, King managed to write the book very quickly. The subject matter hit so close to King that he took time out from it to work on his next novel, The Stand.
King used to listen to rock and roll when drafting a novel; now he doesn't need to.
King has a library made up of 17,000 books; he's read them all except for any new additions.
The first American to win the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Canadian Booksellers Association.
Before he wrote Carrie (his first published novel), King wrote a few practice novels first under his pseudonym Richard Bachman. He called them "trunk novels".
King owns two neighboring houses in Bangor. He wanted to build an underground tunnel with a trolley you could ride between them. When asked why, he replied, "because I can".
He'd like to direct a film now that he's totally sober.
Hit the No 1 bestseller list 36 times, and is still disappointed when he doesn't.
Does some of his book tours on motorbike.
By 1987, the King family lived in a 24-room restored Victorian mansion.
Bryan Smith, the van driver who hit King in 1999, had a history of driving offenses and his license had been suspended three times by the time of the accident. He was indicted for aggravated assault and driving to endanger. He later died of a drug overdose.
Prefers to be called Steve.
Suffers from high blood pressure, limited vision, flat feet, and punctured eardrums. These spared him from being drafted into Vietnam.
People will often camp outside King's house to get a view of the great author. A man named Erik Keene broke in April 20, 1991 at 6:00am. He threatened Tabitha with a bomb, claiming King stole the idea for Misery from Keene's aunt. She ran to a neighbour and called the police. They found Keene in the attic and the bomb was a dud. He was arrested and sentenced to 18 months in jail before he was extradited to Texas for a parole violation. The King's increased security by extending a wrought-iron fence around the yard gates with access codes as well as CCTV.
Teaches a course as part of the Writers in Paradise Winter Term at Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, Florida. [January 2006]
Writing a column for the back page of Entertainment Weekly magazine called "The Pop of King". [July 2003]
The recipient of the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for distinguished contribution to American letters.
King writes his fear of flying into some of his stories, Eg The Langoliers.
Grew up in Portland, Maine.
When writing Doctor Sleep, King had to be reminded of things from The Shining he'd forgotten.
King has never understood why people find The Shining (1980) so scary.
King has written very few sequels in his career.
Claimed that he realized he was an alcoholic when he began to save bottles for recycling. The piles of empty bottles made clear how much he drank regularly.
One of the only times he has scared himself with his own writing is when Patrick Hockstetter of "It" gets trapped in a refrigerator with leeches.
I've killed enough of the world's trees.
Each life makes its own imitation of immortality.
I recognize terror as the finest emotion and so I will try to terrorize the reader. But if I find that I cannot terrify, I will try to horrify, and if I find that I cannot horrify, I'll go for the gross-out. I'm not proud.
For every six crappy poems you read, you'll actually find one or two good ones. And that, believe me, is a very acceptable ratio of trash to treasure.
[asked why he hasn't personally directed more movies] Just watch Maximum Overdrive (1986).
Rob Reiner, who made Stand by Me (1986), is one of the bravest, smartest filmmakers I have ever met, and I'm proud of my association with him. I am also mused to note that the company Mr. Reiner formed following the success of "Stand By Me" is Castle Rock Productions . . . a name with which many of my longtime readers will be familiar.
Like anything else that happens on its own, the act of writing is beyond currency. Money is great stuff to have, but when it comes to the act of creation, the best thing is not to think of money too much. It constipates the whole process.
I know writers who claim not to read their notices, or not to be hurt by the bad ones if they do, and I actually believe two of these individuals. I'm one of the other kind - I obsess over the possibility of bad reviews and brood over them when they come. But they don't get me down for long; I just kill a few children and old ladies, and then I'm right as a trivet again.
Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.
Books and movies are like apples and oranges. They both are fruit but taste completely different.
[on film adaptations of his work] I don't feel any urge to control after I sign a piece of paper. I say, "See you later. You have what you need and I have what I want. As long as the check doesn't bounce, you and I are quits."
I know a few writers who claim not to read reviews, and I actually believe one of these individuals. I am the opposite: I anticipate bad reviews and brood over them when they come. But then I just kill a few children and old ladies and I'm right as a trivet again.
I didn't believe there was justification for going into the war in Iraq. And it just seemed at the time, that in the wake of 9/11, the [George W. Bush] Administration was like this angry kid walking down the street who couldn't find whoever sucker-punched him, and so turned around and punched the first likely suspect. Sometimes the sublimely wrong people can be in power at a time when you really need the right people.
You can still reconcile the idea that things are not necessarily going to go well without falling back on platitudes like "God has a plan" and "This is for the greater good."
(About seeing Carrie (1976) for the first time) In the row in front of us there were two huge African-American men. Two-hundred and fifty pounders at least. They're screaming like children. They're grabbing each other around the neck and one of them says to the other one, "That's it, that's it. She ain't never gonna be right". And I looked at my wife and I said this movie's gonna be huge.
I was addicted for most of the 80s. Its not a terribly long time to be an addict, but it lasted longer than WW2.
Having kids allows you to finish off your own childhood, but from a more mature perspective.
Never write a book whose manuscript is bigger than your own head.
A short story is like a stick of dynamite with a tiny fuse; you light and that's the end.
[on cocaine] One snort, and it owned me body and soul.
Book tours are like a pillow fight with all the pillows treated with low-grade poison gas.
One of the reasons that I live in Bangor is because if somebody wants to get to me, they have to be really dedicated.
[on his past career as a teacher] Teaching school is like having jumper cables hooked to your ears, draining all the juice out of you.
People ask me when are you going to write something serious, but that's a question that hurts. That's like walking up to a Black man and asking how it feels to be a nigger.
[his religious beliefs] I've always believed in God. I also think that the capacity to believe is the sort of thing that either comes as part of your equipment, or at some point in your life when you're in a position where you actually need help from a power greater than yourself. You simply make an agreement to believe in God because it will make your life easier and richer to believe than not to believe. So I choose to believe.
All those addictive substances are part of the bad side of what we do. Writing is an addiction for me. Even when its not going well, if I don't do it, the fact that I'm not doing it nags at me.
My brains used to work better. I wrote something last week and I looked at it the other day and thought it familiar, so I went back 100 pages and found I had duplicated myself. Paging Dr Alzheimer.
Good work gets better when its read aloud, and bad work is mercilessly exposed. Its like shining a strong light on facial structure. Even good makeup won't hide bad writing.
There's always a market for shit. Just look at Jeffrey Archer. He writes like old people fuck.
The appeal of horror has always been consistent. People like to slow down and look at the accident. That's the bottom line.
The worst advice I've ever received is don't listen to the critics. I think you should, because sometimes they're telling you something is broken that you can fix. None of us like critics, but if they're saying something's a piece of shit, they're right.
I have a permanent address in the people's republic of paranoia.
[why he likes having peripheral vision] The part I want to keep, as a man and as a writer, is what I see out of the corners.
[about On Writing] Its like the town whore trying to teach women how to behave.
[Neil] Gaiman is simply put, a treasure-house of story, and we're lucky to have him.
Once you get to a certain age you've got to try expanding your field. You've got to try new things, and if you don't you tend to get conservative. I always say you dig yourself a rut and then you furnish it.
I believe everyone is mentally ill. All people angrily screw up their faces like children or talk to themselves when they think nobody's looking.
I get my ideas from everywhere. But what all of my ideas boil down to is seeing maybe one thing, but in a lot of cases it's seeing two things and having them come together in some new and interesting way, and then adding the question 'What if?' 'What if' is always the key question.
[on why he became a writer] The answer to that is fairly simple - there was nothing else I was made to do. I was made to write stories and I love to write stories. That's why I do it. I really can't imagine doing anything else and I can't imagine not doing what I do.
Why can't a story just be a story?
If you look too closely you might see something you don't like.
[Doctor Sleep, his sequel to The Shining] The true history of the Torrance family.
I like to think I'm still pretty good at what I do, but nothing can live up to the memory of a good scare, and I mean nothing, especially if administered to one who is young and impressionable.
A lot of people did serve in the Civil War.
It's interesting to me to know that I have Southern roots. I had no idea. No idea of that.
[while writing Doctor Sleep] I didn't know what was gonna happen. I never know.
I'll never be able to play like Keith Richards, but I always did my best. I always had a blast.
I've always been curious about what my past was.
[when discovering his roots] Thankyou.
[after learning new things about his heritage] Wow.
Information always leads to more questions, where you say to yourself yes but I want to know.
[his children Owen, Joe and Rachel] They're good kids.
I always thought to myself you look like an Irishman and you've got the Irish imagination. I've always had that appreciation for fairies and ogres and boggarts.
[on Psycho (1960)] They remember the first time they experienced Janet Leigh, and no remake or sequel can do that moment when the curtain is pulled back and the knife starts to do its work.
People change. The man who wrote Doctor Sleep is very different from the well-meaning alcoholic who wrote The Shining, but both remain interested in the same thing: telling a kickass story. I enjoyed finding Danny Torrance again and following his adventures. I hope you did too. If that's the case, Constant Reader, we're all good.
You can take my gun, but you will have to prise my book from my cold, dead hands.
Sometimes human places create inhuman monsters.
[on being approached by dying fans about how Dark Tower might end] I would have given both of these folks what they wanted - a summary of Roland's further adventures - if I could have done, but alas, I couldn't... To know, I have to write. I once had an outline, but I lost it along the way.