So when I was graciously asked if I would like to contribute an article to Darkness Dwells’ blog, for their Stephen King November series, I immediately accepted and agreed to it without a second’s hesitation. Then thought to myself, “I have no idea what to say.” So here I am writing this and here you are reading what it is that I am eventually going to say.
I racked my brain for what interesting things I could say about the master of horror, things that would be remotely interesting to you, and which you won't have already read or even thought yourself, being an avid King reader and fan that you likely are, otherwise you wouldn't have even bothered reading this already babbling blog article.
I decided that I wouldn't write about my favourite King films or my favourite King books and/or short stories. Aside from having been done a near literal million times before by everyone else that is anyone worth listening to, these lists are also highly subjective and personal. Ripe for discussion without doubt, but also hugely likely to cause argument. After all, which of us hasn't argued with friends, family, work colleagues or strangers about these very things?
So what do I say then? What do I talk about? I have spent the best part of a week trying to work that out and so here, as you have probably guessed, is my answer: I’ll write about my own perspective and wandering thoughts on Stephen King and his mastery of the literary world.
What this all boils down to are King’s abilities beyond his sheer skill in writing fiction. What abilities am I talking about? Well let me break them down from a personal perspective, as a questionable (but hopeful) literary child of King’s world(s).
1. Stephen King's ability to Inspire
2. King's ability to Transport the reader
3. King's legendary ability to Connect the seemingly unconnected
4. Stephen King's ability to Write Almost Anything.
5. Stephen Kings legendary Openness
6. Stephen King's ability to Reach Out and Connect
So let's start at the top.
1. Inspiration. Stephen King is without doubt—and probably world-renowned—for his ability to inspire millions of us—even several generations by now—with his incredible literary voice throughout his astounding books, stories, and films and TV (some based on his books, others being original works). And I am no different than you. King has been a massive inspiration to me and my own work over the years. It was King that taught me to find my own voice, yet not to be afraid to let my influences show. It doesn't matter if you write and talk (figuratively), like your influences, so long as you put down what you want to say—that which is your own head, as you hear it, as you think it, with the words that you hear and use yourself, that is your voice. And if you have a story to tell, then tell it. People will listen. King inspired me to say to myself, to hell with what people think or say; if I love it, if I want to say something myself, to write something, then do it. King Inspired me to be brave.
2. Transport. King's ability to transport his readers—in this case me—into his worlds. Now they may not be fantastical like Lovecraft, Wells, Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and so on, but that is what makes King's ability to take you away with him, to abandon this world here and now and go with him to a world that looks exactly the same, yet is so very different underneath, all the more incredible. I don't know of, and have yet to hear or read a comment from. somebody who hasn't been absorbed, spirited away and lost in the myriad different worlds of King's. Stories that hook you because they feel, smell and even taste, like the worlds we inhabit ourselves. Everything feels normal, feels real and feels like it belongs there with us.
3. Connecting the seemingly unconnected. King's ability to connect is most easily and obviously demonstrated with the Dark Tower series. Reading it and watching the TV series, you can easily see how so many of his other stories come back to this, how they run off it or are built from it. I won't name any, it's always more fun to discover for yourself. (Yes, I am a spoil sport, but I hate spoilers myself so I don't intend to give anything that might sound like one away. Please, don't use that language, there are young and impressionable freakpeeps about, we don't want them to hear such plain language, be more offensive, thank you).
4. To write pretty much anything. That is one of the biggest reasons why I love Stephen King. His ability to write stories in so many genres and disciplines is, quite frankly, amazing. From Horror to Drama, Fiction to Writing guides and so much more, King’s ability to switch genres is another inspiration to me personally, and I am sure—rather, I know—is an inspiration to millions of other authors across the planet. Maybe beyond, who knows, it wouldn't surprise me if I am honest with you.
5. King's openness. This is something I adore about King. King does not denigrate, patronise, take for granted and certainly doesn't discriminate. King is without doubt one the most open and liberal of all famous authors I know of. It is his ability to ignore, or at least look past, what petty little differences we have as people, such as religion, culture, race, background etc. King wants to reach the person, the heart and mind inside a person and share knowledge, experiences and love. He is honest with us, his loyal and often obsessed and obsessive readers and fans, about what he is doing, what he is thinking and what is bothering him. This makes him a wonderful example to the rest of us. Sure, some of us aren't as politically active or politically knowledgeable as King but it is another example of King, the teacher of the wise word, showing, inspiring and leading us to be who we are and find our own unique voice.
6. Reaching out and connecting. All of which leads us on to this last point. King is open and reachable for his fans. King is not just socially active, he is active on all forms of social media, often interacting with fans and critics alike with humour, wisdom, thoughtfulness and kindness. Just go to King's Twitter feed and see for yourself the thousands of examples of this, rather than boring old me stating cases to you here.
So what is the point of this blog post? Well, I don't really know. I guess it's to share my love of Stephen King and some reasons why. After all, I am a big fan, long time reader follower of his, but I am also honest in that I could not tell you everything about him and his books, I couldn't quote his characters and so forth. But I can say that he is an inspiration to not just hopeful authors like myself, but to so many more, equally skilful writers, actors, directors, you name it. To basically anybody. I wanted to say what King has done for me on a personal and literary level. I wanted to do what King himself continues to do, to share. To share love, passion, inspiration, ideas and more. This he has done for me and so much more besides.
And so, this is what I hope to achieve in my own work. To whisk you away from this world, from your own personal situations in this life, and ferry you to another world, your own fantasy world where although the construct is of my making, the life, the breath, the continuing existence of those worlds are entirely of your own making. The building of characters’ futures, dependant on your own imagination, something that I know, you all have in abundance. I hope to provide the same love of the word, passion for whatever it is that moves you, that excites you, that makes you hold your breath with anticipation for what comes next. Whatever it is that you love doing, to inspire you to just do it, no matter what anyone says or does, to say what you think, do what you please and to find and use your own voice, whether that be in a book, in making films, theatre, sports, arts and creativity, politics or whatever. That's what I hope to have and to continue to accomplish in my work, to breed these things in you, to inspire and to share the single most important factor, love. Love for whatever it is that you do.
So, in conclusion, be like me. Be inspired. Be like Stephen King. Be amazing.... Be yourself.
Thank you, Stephen King. Thank you Master of Horror, from all of us that you have bled inspiration into.
Born in Essex in 1978, Rob currently resides in Thurrock with his wife and family.
Rob's books to date include:
Life With Boris Karloff!
The Grays Anatomy
Friends Like Us
My Name Is Human
Rob has been featured in many anthologies including Dark light 2 (by S.J. Davis), Liphar - Short Stories Vol.1 & Unleash The Undead (Collated & Edited by Samie Sands), Kevin Hall's Thirteen 2: The Horror Continues & Thirteen vol.3. Horror on Halloween Night, Mutate, A Picture Is Worth 1000 words, Nightmares & Electromagnetism, all also by Samie Sands.
Rob is working on many more new projects and is scheduled to appear at author and book signing events across the UK during 2019 and is scheduled to release further books of varying genres over the next 12-18 months.
Take a look a Rob Shepherd in any of his usual haunts: