Friday, October 28, 2011

Stephen is the King of Fear

Yep, it's my turn to talk about scary books for All Hallows Read.

Frankly, I'd never viewed books as truly scary when I was a kid. Washington Irving's Headless Horseman and Charles Dickens' Ghosts of Christmas were delightfully creepy but still enjoyable. In fact, I never met a book I couldn't finish. Not until high school. Not until my sister insisted I read a book she loved called Firestarter.

I got about a quarter of the way through the book before the nightmares started. Don't ask me why I had nightmares over a sci-fi thriller. I gave the book back to my sister. "Didn't you just love it?" I told her what happened. She shook her head in disbelief.

A few months later, she handed me a book she'd borrowed from the library. "With all that weird stuff you read, you might like this one better." This time the book was Stephen King's Carrie. The nightmares were even worse than with Firestarter. It probably didn't help that I was going through similar issues in high school as the title character did. Once again, I stopped reading and returned the book to my sister.

She shook her head in disgust. "You watch zombie and vampire movies, and you can't handle this?"

I don't care what anyone says about Stephen King's writing. In me, he hit that gut-level response, the one you get when faced with the real possibility of pain and death. The one I've only felt a couple of times in my life, like when my car started sliding on ice and headed straight for a telephone pole. And in most of King's works, the real danger in not external, but internal. Literally, his characters are often their own worst enemy.

Maybe that's part of the reason I write urban fantasy. The monsters are an external force to fight.

On the other hand, I did manage to finish one King's books. The title? On Writing.

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