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King, Stephen

writing forces town writer

(US, 1947– )

Born in Portland, Maine, Stephen King taught English before turning to writing full-time. The immediate success of Carrie (1974), a revenge drama about a disturbed girl who develops telekinetic powers at the onset of puberty, helped to create the template for much of King's writing. The idyllic small town invaded by inexplicable supernatural forces has been a persistent motif, as in Salem's Lot (1975) where two boys are terrorized by vampires when they move to a new town. The novel uses the fulfilment of childhood fears to create much of its effect. The writer as a character is another staple, used most effectively in Misery (1987), a suspense story in which, following a car accident, a best-selling author is kidnapped by his ‘number one fan’, whose alternating psychosis and sentimentality force him to resurrect his own fictional creation. The Dark Half (1989) features a writer haunted by the repressed side of his personality that produces his successful horror novels. The Dead Zone (1979) is a haunting tale about a man whose ability to see the future forces him into seclusion until he meets a corrupt minor politician who is destined to start a Third World War. Although King's later books lack some of the tautness of his earlier work, he remains one of the most inventive genre novelists of his generation. King has also written under the pseudonym Richard Bachman.

Dean R. Koontz, Anne Rice, James Herbert. See SUPERNATURAL  WB

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