In advance of his latest novel Grim, Rupert Smith – hi Rupert! – is writing a fantastic list of his favourite horror films. Go read it. This morning, it is Stephen King’s Pet Sematary.
It reminds me of the fact that I have only read two Stephen King books. The first, The Shining, is a wonderful character study of a man gone mad. You really get under Jack Torrance’s skin – though it is Jack’s wife Wendy, a woman playing that precarious balancing game of a marriage gone foul, who becomes the real focal point, the character the reader most identifies with.
But one better is King’s On Writing, which isn’t a novel at all and more a missive on what makes a good writer good and, better still, how to make a good novel better. And, just as the book cover (left) suggests, it is a memoir of sorts. King talks frankly about his childhood giving clues to his fascination with the horror genre, which undoubtedly begins with such innocent discoveries as spiders in the garden shed – then talks about his first successes as a writer.
The second part (I think! – it’s been a while since I read it) goes into great detail about what drives a successful novel. In imparting knowledge of the craft, he generously allows other writers in on his secrets – in fact giving them the chance to blossom in the same way he did and does. For this reason, King is a god!
It is the last part of On Writing that has kept me putting pen to paper even though it is, at times, a rocky road. King writes of the car accident that almost killed him. This personal drama isn’t a grab for the readers’ heartstrings. It is a very important retelling of an event that happened while he was writing this book. Life is too short to give up. Keep doing what you believe in. We are all so very privileged to have the opportunity to fulfill our dreams so don’t waste them.