Writers On Writing #3: Stephen King – “On The Intellectual Level You Grasp The Fact That It Is Make-Believe, But The Subconscious Grabs The Story In A Symbolic Way”

In October 1989, horror legend Stephen King (The Shining, Carrie, The Stand) sat down with The Public Radio Book Show to discuss growing up in Portland, Maine, and its subsequent impact on his career as a writer of the macabre. It became apparent in the early stages of King’s illustrious career that the public appeared to be somewhat fascinated by his childhood, notably by the horrific or unspeakable acts which must have taken place in order for King to write such dark, twisted material — people’s curiosity about him is something in which he has always been interested, not least because his childhood wasn’t that unusual.

Despite his own being relatively unremarkable, Stephen King goes on to explain that everyone else’s interest stems from their own void in childhood memory, i.e. they’ve forgotten what it was like to be a child themselves. 

He draws a comparison between his writing and the imagination of children: “I was kicking a rock one day and I happened to spot a little girl on the corner of my street. She was about five years old. She was sitting in the dirt at the edge of the road, talking to herself or to invisible friends and drawing in the dirt with a stick. And I thought, you know, If I did that, somebody would come along and say there’s a grown man sitting in the dirt, talking to himself or to people who aren’t there and drawing with a stick, which is very close to what I do as a living, what people pay me to do.”

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