Stephen King enthusiasts can all agree that he is truly a fascinating person. He is well known to be one of the most successful and well established authors in modern publishing, for his works such as Carrie, The Shining, It, The Dark Tower, and The Stand, and many more. His books have been adapted more by a great factor compared to other well-known authors’.
But who is he, really, as a person? What are his hobbies when not writing? Is he the only author in the family? What was up with that terrible accident that nearly took his life? And what kind literature does he prefer reading? This won’t be a Stephen King biography, but here is a bunch of the coolest facts and trivia like facts about the great man, the legend is also known to go by Richard Bachman.
So, here’s to taking a quick break from reading his 50+ novels and leaning a bit about the man himself. Here are some interesting and downright amazing things about the king of horror himself, Stephen King.
1- King Was Not Built to Be a Soldier
You can’t even imagine King without his glasses that are pretty much part of him at this point, which he’s been wearing as early as childhood. His poor vision rescued him from military service during the draft, as he was ruled not suitable because of his poor eyesight, but also because of his high blood pressure, flat feet, and ruptured eardrums.
2- He’s Written a Musical with John Mellencamp
Stephen King, and musicals. The farthest thing in your mind, right? Well, he did write a play. Called the Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, it was a supernatural piece. John Mellencamp contributed lyrics and even music, together with T-Bone Burnett overseeing musical direction.
3- He’s A Victim of Triskaidekaphobia
King being somewhat of a superstitious guy, he has diagnosed himself with Triskaidekaphobia, the illogical fear of the number 13. He’s snuck a reference to it in ‘Salem’s Lot.
4- Cameo on Sons of Anarchy
King had an appearance in one episode of FX’s Sons of Anarchy. He played the role of a disreputable biker that went by the name of Bachman, fitting to the author’s well-known pen name, Richard Bachman. In this episode, Bachman is a “cleaner” that is summoned to dispose of a dead body, really an appropriate role for the King of horror.
5- The Van that Almost Killed him? He Bought It.
Very occasionally does King write about revenge, but he took some out on the Dodge minivan that almost made it his last birthday in 1999 by hitting and almost killing him. To avoid it ending up online on places like eBay by some obsessed fan, King bought Bryan Smith’s van with the help of his lawyers. Costing him just around $1,500, King was able to acquire the minivan, which he reportedly personally destroyed with a sledgehammer.
6- King Has Won Plenty Of Literary Awards
Credits to the huge number of copies he has sold, he is often disregarded in some serious literary groups. Nevertheless, he is critically acclaimed, having received reviews full of praise through his carer and winning an array of literary awards inclusive of but not limited to The Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, The Hugo Award, The Bram Stoker Award, The World Fantasy Award, and The National Medal of Arts – the greatest honor the White House can offer to artists.
7- The Driver Who Nearly Ended King’s Life Died on the Author’s Birthday
Sometimes, disturbing twists like in horror tales are not far from reality. In 1999, a van driver, known as Bryan Smith, famously hit and seriously injured Stephen King while driving his van as the author was walking on the roadside. Though he almost killed King and was even reportedly known to be DUI at the time of the accident, Mr. Smith was off the hook with no serious cases or punishment. Now here’s the weird part, almost a year later on King’s birthday – September 21st, 2000, his dead body was found in his apartment. To add to that, they both had the same middle name; Edwin.
8- King and His Wife Met At a Library
That’s right, Stephen King and his wife Tabitha first ran into each other at a library – how fitting. It was at the Fogler Library in the University of Maine, where they were both students.
9- He’s a Local Boy All The Way
If you’re a Stephen King fan, you’ll notice most of his stories take place either in Maine or at least mention his hometown. Granted that he resides in Florida part-time, King has a deep connection with his small Main town and is regarded by his locals as a regular guy, just another part of the town. He has made several large donations to the library in his hometown in Bangor, Maine, to keep it alive. Want to see the Stephen King side of Maine? There are tours
10- Devout Red Sox Fan
King is a huge fan of the Boston Red Sox. Together with Stewart O’Nan, they co-wrote Faithful, a non-fiction story of the team’s triumphant 2004 season. He’s thrown the first pitch at Sox games multiple times and is a consistent fixture at Fenway Park, where he is known to occasionally do some light reading while watching the games.
11- He’s a Pop Culture Addict
You’ll find plenty of references to movies, songs, and figures relating to the popular culture in his novels. Back in the mid-2000s, he even wrote a column in Entertainment Weekly titled “The Pop of King” in which he gave his opinion on movies, music, and television, proclaiming his love for, among other things, the ABC show Lost.
12- He Pleaded JK Rowling to Not Kill Harry Potter
You know you’ve made it big when a man like Stephen King views himself as a “warm-up band” for one of your events. He was such a huge fan of the Harry Potter series that he frequently led events for JK Rowling. Ahead of the release of the 7th book, King as the Potterhead publicly begged the author to not kill the boy wizard.
13- One of The Earliest Major Authors to Release An E-book
King had foreseen the future of books as electronic books sold online as early as the 90’s. King has been one of the earliest major authors to publish online books. In 2000, he boosted e-publishing greatly by releasing Riding the Bullet digitally, giving it a lot of traction to make what e-books are to us today.
14- His Fight with Substance Abuse
King credits him being alive to his writing. Hey, he’s addicted. Sadly though, there were times he had other, unhealthier addictions that he can credit to almost taking his life. In the ’80s, he was a beer and cocaine addict. Decades into his sober life, being struck by that van led to addiction to the prescribed painkillers that he thankfully overcame.
Without writing, he announced, ”Oh, I’d be dead. I would have drunk myself to death or drugged myself to death or committed suicide or some goddamn thing.”
15- King’s First Professional Short Dates to 1967
King’s professional writing career started about 50 years ago. His earliest published was a short story called “The Glass Floor,” published in Startling Mystery Stories #6 all the way back in 1967. His second work, another story, got published in the 12th issue of the same magazine.
16- Huge Comic Fan
Stephen King is a diehard comic book fan. One of his first experiences with horror was in the EC horror comics, which caused a lot of controversy in the US (He cites Tales from the Crypt as a major influence). His books have been adjusted to the form many times, often with assistance from King himself. Both The Stand and The Dark Tower received the grand comic book treatment. He’s even been part of a special issue of X-Men.
17- He Has Both Written And Directed an Infamous Film Himself
King’s literary work has been heavily mined by the Hollywood industry, but here’s something new for you: he wrote and directed his movie. Yup, Maximum Overdrive, a 1985’s film was directed and written by the King of horror himself. Starring Emilio Estevez, it’s safe to say that it was a disaster. The movie finds machines that come to life and murder anyone in sight.
18- His Mention in The Guinness Book
King has a record in the Guinness Book for “most number of motion picture adaptations by a living author.” That’s about as prolific as it gets.
19- He Nearly Made a Sequel to Nightmare on Elm Street
Stephen King and Horror go hand in hand, to the point that at the peak of the Nightmare on Elm Street-mania, he had been approached to direct the fifth installment in the long-running franchise, but his version of it never made it to reality.
20- He Owns an Eerie House (Mostly for Show)
Aware of the fact that constant readers and avid fans feel a personal connection and are naturally curious, he has made one of his addresses more or less publicly known. Located in Bangor, Maine – and looks exactly how you’d imagine, from bat grotesques to a daunting spiderweb gate, and has an overall creepy, spooky air surrounding it. But sadly, this is not his primary residence, as he prefers a different, lesser-known Maine home and an estate in Florida.
21- Film Rights to Some of King’s Stories Are Sold By Him For Just $1.00
Knowing the influence of the ‘King brand’ and how commonly big movies are based on his works, selling just one of his stories for adaptation would cost a whole lot. And yet, King graciously offers film students the opportunity to adapt his available works for as little as one dollar. He calls these his Dollar Babies.
22- He Has Some Books Published Out There With A Penname
Annoyed at the belief of publishing industries of limiting an author to only releasing a single book per year, King started publishing books under the penname Richard Bachman, something that he continued to do for years without anyone finding out. That is until a bookstore cashier put two and two together. Naturally, King had given Richard Bachman quite the backstory and then finished him off with “cancer of the pseudonym, a rare form of schizonomia.”
23- King is A Guitar Player for a Rock Band of Writers
When you think of a novelist, the first thing that comes to mind is not a rock band. That’s not the case with King: he’s part of the Rock Bottom Remainders, a band that’s made up almost entirely of authors. Some other members of the rotating band include Amy Tan, Ridley Pearson, Mitch Albom, Greg Lies, Matt Groening, and others. There’s even an e-book that they released together, called Hard Listening: The Greatest Rock Band Ever (of Authors) Tells All.
24- King Has His Very Own Radio Station
He and his wife co-own a family of radio stations with The Zone Corporation, a reference to The Dead Zone. Including WKIT 100.3, it’s a classic rock station that’s fully backed by the author.
25- King Despises The Adaption of The Shining
The 1980 adaption of The Shining, by Stanley Kubrick’s, is generally known to be the best adaptation of King’s novels, though it has one significant critic: King himself. He has said that the adaption is “too cold,” likening it to “a Cadillac with no engine in it. You can’t do anything with it except admire it as sculpture.”
On top of that, he has criticized the family dynamic and the inaccurate depiction of Wendy in the film, saying things like, “I mean, talk about insulting to women. She’s basically a scream machine.”
26- Both his Son and his Wife are Authors
Clearly, the writing virus is in the genes, or so to say in the King family. Tabitha, his wife, has a total of 8 novels published. Joe and Owen, his two sons, are not far behind; Joe (Joseph Hillstrom), better known as Joe Hill has three bestsellers that he’s written to date. Heck, Owen’s wife is a writer!
27- King’s Got Guns, but strongly Believes in Gun Control
The Gunslinger is one of his most well-known characters, so it doesn’t come as a shock that he’s big on firearms. Owning three handguns, he has publicly announced his views against gun owners not believing in sensible legislation. After the devastating mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, he released a whole 25-page essay where he formally asserted, “Autos and semi-autos are weapons of mass destruction. When lunatics want to make war on the unarmed and unprepared, these are the weapons they use.”
28- He Announced His (short-lived) Retirement in 2002
In 2002, he publicly declared that he was retiring, saying he wanted to stop while he was the best and before he was any lesser, “Then you have a choice. You can either continue to go on or say ‘I left when I was still on top of my game.”
Well, there you have it! A quick look at the interesting life and history of The King of Horror behind your favorite books. You won’t find many major authors that are both bookworms and star in rock bands. Hopefully, you found some facts in this comprehensive list that you would never guess about our favorite author.