Horrorfest Post…Why Stephen King missed his calling

This post by Tony T orginially featured on the blog in October last year, but I thought it fitted well with this event and so have re-posted it today 🙂

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I’ve read quite a few Stephen King books. Not all of them by any means – I believe the list is now up to sixty two, – but I’ve read enough of them to know his writing pretty well.

We all know the genre: Joe Average (who has a habit of being a writer) finds himself in a supernatural situation, gets himself out of it – though doesn’t always survive mentally.

And fair enough, some of them are gruesome to the max – I believe all aspiring writers should read Misery, just as an object lesson to run from anyone who tells you, ‘I’m your Number One Fan’, and as a delve into the writing process.

But I digress, and back to my point.

I put it to the world: He missed his calling. The man was born to write YA.

I came across the review Em posted on here for The Long Walk, and flicking through my shelves of King today, it occurred to me that the works I think are his best are all, at heart YAs: IT. The Long Walk. The Body (Stand by Me, for those who only know the film). The Talisman. Christine. Carrie.

But what about the horror? What about the profanity? Some might ask. I’d ask if they’d read any YA recently. I’d pick up a Bali Rai and point out the profanity in there. I’d pick up a Darren Shan and show you the gore inside. He’s not written anything in the books I’ve mentioned above that couldn’t be handled by a teenager.

The simple fact is Stephen King works best when he’s writing about teenagers and children.

He knows on a fundamental level how they tick, the elemental fears that move and shake them. He knows how a dark cellar scares the lunch out of them, how sunlight gleaming from the ankle bracelet of the first girl you ever love melts your heart.

And he knows the value of childhood friendships (The Body: I never had any friends later on like I had when I was twelve. Jesus, did anyone?), the easy pain cruel parents inflict on their children – and not always physically.

That’s why his horror works so well…he knows the fears of childhood and knows we’ve all been there. Who’s never been frightened by a clown like Pennywise in IT? Personally, I don’t remember a time I didn’t find clowns scary.

Even Christine, which is perhaps a borderline case for YA, is all about the losers in high school, full of teenage angst and anger. Breaking the rules for the first time to get what you want, breaking away from your parents.

Stephen King missed his calling. He’s wasted on all those adults! YA’s should take him as one of their own!

So I put it to the world: Start a campaign. Stephen King should write YA!

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One thought on “Horrorfest Post…Why Stephen King missed his calling

  1. When I was a teen, there really wasn’t much of a YA genre. One simply went from young reader books (say, ages 9 to 12) to adult novels and nonfiction. Stephen King was actually a popular transition author for teens. Working in a bookstore, I often have adults request a recommendation for a teen that doesn’t include the supernatural/horror, sex, dystopian themes, or profanity. I usually find it easier to direct them to an adult fiction novel, although there are a few YA authors whose books I might recommend. Interestingly, more adults read YA novels than I care to count. I simply don’t understand the appeal of steampunk, cyberpunk, etc. When I was in high school, To Kill a Mockingbird was included in the curriculum. Now there’s a coming-of-age horror novel!

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