Weird Facts About Stephen King
Stephen King is one of the most well-known horror authors on the planet. He's thrilled and terrified readers with his stories for years, making their own worst nightmares come to life. Many of his works have had major film and television adaptations.
But, what about Stephen King himself? Where does his inspiration come from? We’ve gathered the most tantalizing facts about Stephen King and his writing, and some of them are exactly what you'd expect from the master of horror!
After sending out query after query only to receive rejection letters time and again, King had his first novel, Carrie, finally accepted by publishers. It tells the story of a bullied teen who has telekinetic abilities who uses her powers to get revenge.
He's Used Pen Names
King used a pseudonym, Richard Bachmann, to publish some of his work. He did this in part because publishers were reluctant to release more than one book by a given author per year, but also because he wanted to see if he could duplicate his publishing success.
Lots of Cameos
Stephen King is known for making small cameos in many of his film adaptations. He actually has 22 different film appearances on his resume. One classic example is in the original Pet Semetary, when King played the role of a minister.
Not a Nicholson Fan
Stephen King may have approved of most of the film adaptations of his work, but that was certainly not the case when it came to The Shining. In particular, he did not like the casting choices made. While fans adored Stanley Kubrick's work on the film, King was less than impressed.
His Favorite Work
Everybody has a favorite when it comes to the works of Stephen King. His favorite, however, is one of his bestsellers: Salem's Lot. The story is centered on a character who returns home to discover that the residents of a small town are becoming vampires.
Pennywise Was Originally a Troll
One of Stephen King's most well-known novels is the hit It. When he originally came up with the concept, Pennywise was a troll living under a bridge who preyed on unsuspecting children.
He Doesn't Remember Writing Cujo
Most fans of Stephen King are aware of his past struggles with drugs and alcohol. His substance abuse issues were so bad that he has no memory of writing the hit novel Cujo. King was on an alcohol- and coke-fueled binge and doesn't remember a single word of the popular story.
A Real Haunted Prison
Castle Rock is another adaptation of King's work. The town in the series is the site of the Shawshank State Prison. Many of the scenes were filmed in the West Virginia State Penitentiary in Moundsville, and the real penitentiary is said to be one of the most haunted places in America.
Advice to Writers
Stephen King wrote a book called On Writing that has been used in creative writing classes around the country. In the book, he discussed his writing process and how he developed his craft over time. He admitted that the journey wasn't an easy one.
Too Graphic for the Film
If you've never read the novel, It, you're likely unaware of a scene so graphic and controversial that it didn't make it into the movie. It took place after the famous Loser's Club defeated Pennywise, at which point they all engaged in group sex. It's understandable that this scene would be cut from a movie featuring young kids!
He Was Hit by a Van in 1999
While taking a walk in June of 1999, Stephen King was hit by a van after the driver became distracted by a dog moving around in the back seat. The accident left King with broken bones in his ribs, legs and hip. He also suffered a punctured lung and lacerations.
It seems that some actors really enjoy being in King's work, as many have appeared in multiple adaptations. Thomas Jane, for instance, has appeared in The Mist, Dreamcatcher and 1922. Other actors such as John Cusack, Kathy Bates and other famous actors have appeared in multiple Stephen King works, and many say they would love to do so again.
Book Signings Only
Stephen King is not a fan of being a celebrity. If you approach him on the street, it’s highly unlikely that you will get yourself an autograph. He only gives out autographs to fans when on official tours.
Writing Runs in the Family
Stephen isn't the only writer in his family. One of his sons, Joseph King, has published successful novels and short stories under the pen name Joe Hill. His novel Horns was adapted into a film starring Daniel Radcliffe, while the comic book series Locke and Key was made into a Netflix series.
As a child, Stephen King witnessed his friend being killed by a train. He has no memory of the incident, but many speculate that the experience was inspiration for some of his darker work. King has never verified that theory.
He Makes Bank
Many writers may be starving artists, but Stephen King doesn't exactly fall into that category. With so many hit novels and TV and movie adaptations, King has an estimated net worth of $400 million. Even though he’s had some flops, it’s done nothing to dull his net worth.
H.P Lovecraft Inspired Him
As a child, King discovered a paperback copy of one of H.P. Lovecraft’s short story collections in the attic of his childhood home. "Now that time has given us some perspective on his work," said King years later, "I think it is beyond doubt that H. P. Lovecraft has yet to be surpassed as the twentieth century’s greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale."
Lots of Rejection
When Stephen King was first starting out, he used his rejection letters as a "fuel" of sorts. Instead of becoming angry and tossing them out, King nailed the letters to the wall. He received so many rejection letters early on that he had to replace the nail with a camping stake.
He Writes to Rock Music
Many writers listen to music while they write, and each one has their own preferences. Stephen King’s is for rock music. Given his style of writing and the type of content he writes, it makes sense that he would find the most inspiration in classic rock.
He Owns a Radio Station
Along with his wife, King owns a radio station. It’s a mainstream rock radio station (of course) located in Brewer, Maine. WKIT is part of the Zone Corporation, which is also owned by Tabitha and Stephen.
The Most Film Adaptations
Stephen King holds a world record for the most film adaptations. Estimates vary, but they number at least in the dozens, and while other stories by king have been made into television series, comic books, radio dramas and more.
Fear of Flying
Surprisingly, Stephen King has a powerful fear of flying. It's hard to believe that the master of horror would have such an ordinary phobia. While he’s willing to fly when he absolutely has to, he doesn’t relish the occasion. When King was younger, he drove his motorcycle to book signings no matter how far away they were.
Like the rest of us, Stephen King has his favorite television series. Some of them include Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead and The Americans. He also stated that he was a fan of Sons of Anarchy. Before long, he was given the chance to make a surprise cameo on the popular series!
His Books Never Go Out of Print
Unlike many other authors, the works of Stephen King almost never go out of print. This is why you can find so many different covers on even older works by Stephen King. They are always being printed because they are always selling more copies. Because of this, early editions of King’s work are coveted by fans and sometimes even worth decent money.
In the '80s, King's drinking and cocaine use became so bad that his family staged an intervention for him, during which his wife Tabitha collected all his drug paraphernalia and dumped it in the living room in front of friends and family. She even threatened to divorce him.
An Entire Universe
The Dark Tower series includes the novels that Stephen King says tie all his other works together. Similar to other cinematic universes like the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Conjuring Universe, all of the stories take place in the same universe — or at least, series of universes.
A Fear of 13
On top of a fear of flying, King also has a more superstitious fear: triskaidekaphobia, or the fear of the number 13. It’s certainly odd, but then again, considering the importance of the number 19 in The Dark Tower, maybe King just has an intense relationship with numbers.
He Banned His Own Book
Rage was a book that Stephen King wrote way back in the '70s under the name Richard Bachman. The story followed a troubled teenager who brought a gun to school and killed his teachers. Actual school shootings didn’t start cropping up until the '80s and '90s, so publishers let it go to print.
While most of King's work was successful and well-received, it’s no secret that he’s had a few flops as well. Beyond bad movies like Maximum Overdrive — his own attempt at directing a movie — King also wrote a few musicals that flopped.
350 Million Copies
King has sold over 350 million copies of his books, making him not just one of the most successful horror writers, but one of the most accomplished writers ever, period. His work has been professionally translated into 3,354 languages.