Your books have sold more than 350 million copies and have been adapted into a number of feature films, television movies and even comic books. Yet it’s not your impressive stats that make me a fan.
You were my Dad’s favourite author. Of all time. And we grew up physically surrounded by your books and adapted films that it’s surprising really, how it’s only recently I’ve started reading your work.
“Good books don’t give up all their secrets at once” – Stephen King
I can remember how he’d underplay his excitement whenever you brought out something new. We thought it’d be easy getting him a present for his birthday or for Christmas but he’d already have your latest thriller.
So when he passed away last year, one of the biggest tasks we faced was going through his huge collection of books. There were the Dean Koontz’s, Ian Rankin’s, John Grisham’s, and Peter James’ but your books towered over the lot.
Boxes and crates were taken out of the house and given to charity, but I felt the need to keep every single one of your books. Something in me wouldn’t let them leave the house.
As a child, watching my Dad fall in love with your work, I used to think you only wrote thriller and fantasy plots, but as I’ve found recently, it’s the way you tell stories that captivates your audience.
Salem’s Lot was the first of your books that I read. I used to read it on my long journeys commuting to and from work a couple of years ago, and always rang up Dad telling him where I’d gotten to in the story. He took great pride that his kids started falling in love with your work like he did. I used to work 12 hour shifts and would be waiting for a train at 9pm, with almost a two hour journey ahead of me. I used to get such a thrill reading the book by the light of the station lights, and then onto the empty train to carry on reading. I still get shivers thinking about the dead woman in the morgue, I can still see her in my mind, her hand slowly moving from under the cover…
What’s funny is that because I was so tired from the shifts and traveling, reality became a mere blur and I used to get confused as to what was really real. I love it when you get that involved with a story you become lost in it. Although looking back, it’s not that funny when you start thinking people around you have actually become vampires…
I started with Salem’s Lot because when we were young, my sister and I used to sneak scary films into our room, and amongst Carrie, Cujo, Misery and Christine, this was one of the first I can remember watching. As scary as it was seeing the little boy Danny tapping on the window as he floated in the air, I can safely say now that the film/tv series didn’t do the book justice whatsoever.
A couple of years later at a friend’s sleepover, we rented out the film It. Still to this day I have no idea why we chose to watch this film, but I felt a sense of innocence was lost that very night in all of us. And yet, a love for both yourself and Tim Curry was found in me.
At home I could never look at the VHS case for fear of seeing his eyes, so he was always hidden behind other films. I was even scared of touching the case so I used to hold it with a cloth if I had to move it.
Even now I have to force myself to look at the case to stop myself from being too afraid. I thought the best way to deal with Pennywise was to face him. So, I took the big step and started reading the book. I still wonder how this is going to stop me from feeling scared, seeing as your writing is so much more scarier! The thing is, I like the way you tell the story. This is what makes me want to carry on reading and break through that big wall of fear.
We all do it, it’s a human thing. When something scares the hell out of us, we still go ahead and want to carry on. Like in a film for example, a character hears a noise in the house, rather than lock themself in the comfort of their bedroom…they decide to go searching in the dark (because coincidentally the lights aren’t working) for the source of that scary noise. You scream at the TV screen calling them stupid etc but you do the same. You know something horrifying is about to happen, yet you can’t take your eyes off of the screen, or in my case, your book.
Our family have always loved books and I’m glad my parents instilled their love for reading into us kids. I don’t think we’d be as creative or open to new ideas as we are, if we hadn’t have been such book worms.
I do fear that I have lost my hunger for reading though. During the last year, I have just sat and stared at your books in my room and have felt such a sense of dread creep over me.
How can I read on when I know Dad’s not there for me to report back to? Even if he hadn’t have read the book in years, he’d still know exactly what was coming next when I told him where I was in the story. He could practically describe the scene word for word.
I think I’m more scared than I ever was because he’s not here.
But, as a writer and supposedly avid reader, I’m going to take inspiration from the guy who inspired my Dad. My plan is to read one of your books every month. Believe me, I have a great many to go through. Not including the ones written under your own name.
You once said, “if you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
It really is as simple as that.
You have also said that “monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.”
This time I believe they won’t.