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Master of Suspense: A Biography of Stephen King, the World's Best-Selling Horror Novelist

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For the past forty years, one name has dominated the world of horror fiction: Stephen King. King has produced fiction at a lightening speed since the publication of his first book, Carrie, in 1973. Throughout his tenure as one of the greatest American horror writers, he has published forty-nine novels, nine collections of short stories, and eleven screenplays. King's works have also served as the inspiration for numerous Hollywood films. Though many people think King's corpus of literature belongs solely to the horror category, several of his works are actually fantasy and psychological thrillers.

King largely bases his books in small-town America. In an interview with the Paris Review entitled “Stephen King, The Art of Fiction,” King said, “If you go back over the books from Carrie on up, what you see is an observation of ordinary middle-class American life as it's lived at the time that particular book was written.” King's mastery of relating how ordinary people deal with difficult, sometimes even supernatural situations, has earned him a loyal following over the years.

Though King's career has been successful and prolific, his life has not been without hardship. Indeed, King has been quite candid about his battles with alcohol, marijuana and cocaine. In 1999, King was struck by van and endured a long, painful journey to recovery. Now in his sixties, King is able to reflect on his life and career with honesty, and, at times, amusement.


One of the most common questions posed to Stephen King is, “Where do you get your inspiration?” King says that often it comes in a fleeting moment, when he joins two seemingly unrelated ideas that just seem to click in his mind. For Carrie, King paired the idea of a lonely teenage outcast with telekinesis, or the ability to move things purely with the power of the mind. When King was first writing Carrie, he initially threw away the manuscript, thinking he could not write a book from the point of view of a troubled teenage girl. Tabitha encouraged her husband to finish the work, and once the book was accepted by Doubleday, King’s career was off and running.

King's second release, the vampire novel Salem's Lot, typecast him in the genre of horror writing. Subsequent books like The Stand and The Shining underscored King's abilities to add a kernel of the supernatural into real life to create convincing, genuinely terrifying horror books.

King specialized in horror, but he was also skilled in the fantasy genre. The first book of King's The Dark Tower series was published in 1982, and six more books have been released over the course of two decades. The seventh installment, called The Dark Tower, won the 2005 British Fantasy Award. An eighth The Dark Tower book is expected to be released in 2012.

King also published several books including Rage, The Long Walk, The Running Man, Blaze, and Thinner, in the 1970s and 1980s under the pen name Richard Bachman. When asked why he published novels under a pseudonym, King replied, “I did that because back in the early days of my career there was a feeling in the publishing business that one book a year was all the public would accept, but I think that a number of writers have disproved that by now.”…

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