THAT WAS THEN…
THE STAND was originally published in 1978, but I didn’t get around to reading it until a decade later — the very end of 1988/beginning of ’89. Christmas vacation of my final year of college to be exact. I was living in an apartment near the University of Maryland at the time, but had traveled home to Edgewood to stay with my parents for the nearly month long holiday break.
I had just finished with exams and the premiere issue of CEMETERY DANCE had just been published weeks before, so I spent my time at home recharging my brain and devouring a pile of magazine submissions…and reading THE STAND every night before I fell asleep.
Why, all these years later, do I so clearly remember reading it during that time period?
One simple image, which I will get to in a moment.
First, my thoughts on THE STAND upon that initial reading:
I loved it, but it was more than that: it almost felt like I was being hypnotized by the story — this was becoming a familiar experience when reading a SK book — as it took over my late nights and, on more nights than I care to remember, my dreams. » Read more
Just a heads-up, Richard is now writing his essay about the original version of The Stand and it’ll be posted this week.
Remember, you can follow Richard on Twitter for his personal updates and other posts of interest to readers and collectors and Stephen King fans!
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We’re pleased to announce Cemetery Dance’s most unique eBook to date, the Revised & Updated second edition of The Illustrated Stephen King Trivia Book by Brian James Freeman & Bev Vincent, is now available for immediate download.
This special eBook edition allows you to test your trivia knowledge with a unique design using links between questions and hints and answers, and it works with any standard eReader. No apps or special programs are needed. If you have a Kindle, Kobo, Nook, or any of their related apps for other devices, this eBook should work for you!
About the Book:
This revised and updated second edition of The Illustrated Stephen King Trivia Book features all of the original questions from the first edition, along with more than one hundred new questions about Stephen King’s most recent releases!
Also included are ten brand new illustration-based questions from Cemetery Dance favorite artist Glenn Chadbourne, along with the 60 illustration-based questions from the original edition.
This new edition concludes with a brand new afterword by Kevin Quigley, founder of Charnel House, one of the oldest Stephen King fan sites on the web.
The Illustrated Stephen King Trivia Book by Brian James Freeman and Bev Vincent is a must-have for any of Stephen King’s Constant Readers.
Purchase the eBook:
Amazon.com • Amazon.ca • Amazon.co.uk • Nook • Kobo
Purchase the Trade Paperback:
Amazon.com • Cemetery Dance • Barnes & Noble
‘Salem’s Lot isn’t my favorite Stephen King novel—that’s The Stand—but it may be the one that’s influenced me the most. It never made me cry the way some other King novels have, but it got under my skin more, cut me more deeply, frightened me more than any of the others. I suspect I could spend entire chapters delving into my psyche and finding all of the scars that ‘Salem’s Lot left behind, but I prefer to think of the imaginative fires it ignited in me.
I know I should remember my first Stephen King novel. It’s possible that in other places I’ve lied about this, but the truth is that I don’t truly recall which of his books I encountered first. I suspect it was The Stand, which I bought in an airport bookstore as a kid, on my way to Florida with my family. It might have been Carrie, which I bought used at a little shop in my hometown of Framingham, Massachusetts. It wasn’t The Dead Zone, which I first spotted in the hands of a bouncer at Liam’s Irish Tavern—he was reading on the job. And it wasn’t Firestarter, which the nuns at St. Bridget’s heartily disapproved of my reading in the sixth grade.
It definitely wasn’t ‘Salem’s Lot.
No matter, though. Whatever else I read before it, I know I loved every word, but it was ‘Salem’s Lot that really woke me up. I’d spent a lot of time in southern Maine in the summers, so I fancied that I knew a little bit about Maine…and it didn’t feel too different from Massachusetts to me. There was an old house a mile or so from mine that we kids all called “the Lavolee Mansion.” I’m sure I’ve spelled that wrong, but you get the gist. The house had been beautiful once, with faux Doric columns in front, though in those days it was a fading, peeling, crumbling mess of a place with broken windows and overgrown grass. In the lore of the neighborhood kids, the house was—of course—haunted, and when we walked or rode our bikes past the old pile, we always picked up the pace. » Read more
Richard Chizmar was caught reading on the job again today, this time by Otis the black lab:
Remember, you can follow Richard on Facebook and Twitter for his personal updates and other posts of interest to readers and collectors and Stephen King fans. » Read more
After Stephen King finished The Shining, he wrote the novella “Apt Pupil” before going back to work on his Patty Hearst novel, The House on Value Street. After six weeks, he once again felt the book wasn’t coming together for him.
A few incidents in the news caught his attention. The first was an accident in Utah where canisters of a deadly chemical fell from a truck, split open, and killed some sheep. If the wind had been blowing in a different direction, many people might have died. He still had the Symbionese Liberation Army on his mind, so he wondered what would happen if a disease got loose and destroyed most of the world’s population—as in the George R. Stewart novel Earth Abides, which he had read in high school, and M. P. Shiel’s The Purple Cloud—but members of the SLA were immune for some reason. Then he read about the first-ever outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease at the American Legion Convention in Philadelphia in 1976. When he heard a radio preacher utter the phrase “once in every generation the plague will fall among them,” he liked it enough to write it down and post it on his desk.
He had written about the survivors of a viral epidemic before, in the short story “Night Surf,” which was first published in Ubris in 1969 and reworked for subsequent publication in Cavalier in 1974. Though that virus was called A6, the survivors referred to it as Captain Trips. At that earlier time, he wanted to write more about the world after the apocalypse, but he didn’t feel ready to tackle such an enormous project.
He was also inspired to try to write an epic fantasy on the scale of The Lord of the Rings, but with a familiar setting. The problem with so much of high fantasy, he felt, was that readers had to learn a new language and geography to enjoy those books, whereas his would be set in contemporary America. » Read more
Like a lot of kids who grew up in the Seventies and early-Eighties, I was introduced to horror fiction not through prose, but via comic books. The mid-Seventies were an especially fertile period for horror comics—the era of ‘The Marvel Age of Comics’ and ‘The DC Explosion’, among others, fondly remembered now as the Bronze Age. Every week, I’d peddle my BMX Mongoose bike down to the newsstand and grab the latest issue of Werewolf by Night, The Witching Hour, Tomb of Dracula, House of Mystery, House of Secrets, and dozens more, including my personal favorite, Man-Thing (written by Steve Gerber).
It was Gerber’s work that first made me aware, at age eight, that writing was a job somebody could have when they grew up. And so, while every other kid my age wanted to be an astronaut or a police officer or The Six-Million Dollar Man, I was already planning on being a writer. I produced dozens of comic books, laboring over them with pencils and a box of crayons, scribbling them down on sheets of paper my father had brought home from his job at the paper mill, defective sheets with globs of pulp wood embedded in them. I invented monsters and superheroes of my own (including one in which an intelligent, amorphous blob from outer space attacks the Earth), but I did a number of pastiches, as well—writing (and less competently illustrating) new adventures of Captain America and the Falcon, Kamandi, The Defenders, Spider-Man, and more.
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The two Stephen King books I have NEVER read are:
How about you? Which ones have you never read? Post the titles below and let us know why you haven’t read them yet if you want! » Read more
THAT WAS THEN…
I can’t even begin to guess at how many times I have read this collection, nor can I remember the first time I picked it up. I know I was in college at the time, and I know it was summer break and I devoured many of the stories sitting in the shade of the weeping willow tree in my side yard, but that’s all that comes back to me.
Except for the stories, of course.
Always the stories.
It feels like they have always been a part of me. In fact, along with “The Monkey” (which was collected in SKELETON CREW), the 20 short stories that comprise NIGHT SHIFT are as responsible for my becoming a writer as anything else from my past.
I read em, I loved em, and I immediately wanted to write stories just like em; stories that would make other readers feel the same way I did.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that that was easier hoped for than done. And that’s part of the beauty of these 20 stories. They are deceptively simple tales. Nothing fancy. Nothing pretentious.
They don’t pretend to be anything other than what they are: just good (or, in some cases, great) character-driven stories that are crisp and well written and, mostly, very scary.
I’ll do my best here to recount my initial feelings about each of the 20 tales (beware of spoilers): » Read more
I’ll preface by saying that I’ve got about a decade’s worth of college teaching experience, and recently spent nine rewarding years working at a private Baltimore high school, where I was also Chair of the English Department. I’ve also been a teacher and administrator with a well-respected academic summer program.
So I could say, in the words of Rage‘s school principal, Thomas Denver, that “I’ve been in the kid business” for more than 20 years.
That, and been a kid, too, as most of us can fairly say about ourselves.
And I write horror.
During those years when I taught at the high school level, I worried that the subject matter of some of my stories might cause trouble with school administrators, might raise concerns for a few cautious parents. After all, one of my stories implies at the end that a child is smothered by her father; in another, a homeschooled boy gives birth through his abdomen to Lovecraftian monsters.
In a recent collaboration with Brian James Freeman I wrote about creepy Halloween Children. And with Michael McBride I wrote The Narrator, about an eighth grade classroom that spirals into crisis due to bewitching stories they hear from a classmate.
Despite the usual gruesome subject matter, with protagonists who sometimes matched the age of students in my charge, I never received any criticism from the school community. In fact, my high school actually sponsored an event to celebrate the publication of my first book, and it was one of the most rewarding moments of both my teaching and my writing careers.
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