by Edd Sowder, VP Burning Willow Press, editor, author wannabe
My mother introduced me to the literature of Stephen King some years ago… as a matter of fact, it was in high school that I picked up my first book by Stephen King. I had seen some of the movie adaptations of the time, but honestly… I was not really a fan if that was what his books were about. I got a crash course in how screwed up the movies were compared to his books.
You see, I have always been a car guy. I had a classic car back then, a 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle I was trying desperately to restore and hot rod all at the same time. It was then that my mom came to me and said I should read Christine and forget about the movie when I do. She had been getting the hardcover books from the Stephen King Library for a few years and had it already. So, I read the book. I was instantly hooked.
When I was a teen, I was a writer. Now, my writing did not start out in the horror genre; it was more in the area of poetry, lyrics, and songwriting for girls. Yeah, I know… typical teenager. It was sometime later that I decided that I was going to write a book of my own. I had just finished reading The Dark Half as well as IT. So, I was thinking of a way to incorporate my ideas in the same ways that King did with the kids in Derry going after Pennywise the clown, only I did not want to steal his idea. Plagiarism is a real thing and I am not a fan of fanfiction at all. I feel that you should get your own idea and not capitalize off of someone else’s.
I remember that I was up late some nights reading books by him, comparing notes I was making on overused character references long before we had the internet to do searches with. I knew all about Derry and Castle Rock, I knew that Randall Flagg was the badass from The Stand but was also in the Dark Tower, as well as Eyes of the Dragon when I journeyed into that novel. Pennywise was mentioned in others as well, for that matter. His name was scrawled on a statue or something in The Tommyknockers and I did not know who that was until after I read, IT. It all started to make sense that not only was King a master, but he was also a web-weaver. Perhaps now that I reflect on this, I should have read them in order of release. No internet back then to look up the release dates easily.
In my early adult life, I had very little time to read but I did get involved in watching every single movie, on VHS no doubt, and seeing everything he wrote for the small screen as well, including the episode of the X-Files he wrote, titled Chinga. I was a fan, to say the least. I tried to collect all of his books and now have a vast library with only a few newer novels missing from the collection thus far but will have them as well. Soon. Oh, and yes, I do have an original copy of Rage that was pulled from the shelves some time ago and I also have it as part of the Bachman Books. No, it is not for sale.
In my later years, I had a good collection of works from Mr. King. I have to say I have a few favorites. My top ten faves, in no particular order: The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, Misery, Needful Things, Gerald’s Game, Tommyknockers, IT, The Dark Half, Eyes of the Dragon, The Gunslinger, and Four Past Midnight. Yes, that last one is a collection but every single story in it is worth a read if you are looking for a good novella-sized story.
My favorite movies, well… if you can call them that. As already stated, the movies are not quite done in a way that portrays him as the writer he is. But my top ten list: Needful Things, Creepshow, The Shining (who doesn’t love Jack Nicholson chasing his family through a haunted hotel trying to kill them with an axe?), Firestarter, Cat’s Eye, Gerald’s Game, The Stand, Hearts of Atlantis, Pet Semetary, IT (the new one, I am not a fan of the original since it was poorly done), Carrie (both of them actually… the one with Sissy Spacek and the newer version with Chloe Grace Moretz are both well done).
Myself as a reader, he is a master. Hands down one of the very best. As an editor, I find things that should be worded better and wonder if his editors/publishers even look at his work anymore because they know it will sell simply due to his name. As a writer myself, I look to him for where I could be in the next forty years if I keep working. King is one the best horror writers due to his tenacity to keep putting out decent work. Is he the best hands-down out of all of them? That remains to be seen since new horror writers emerge every single day. He is humble in his interviews, he is a bit creepy which helps him sell well I am sure, and he is willing to read others in a way that will help them grow.
When I told my family I wanted to write books, my mom – an avid reader – got me his On Writing book. Talk about a large file on what you should and should not do as an author. It helped some even though I had stopped trying back in the early nineties. Family obligations got in the way and so did the string of day jobs to make sure bills were paid along with the rent. Now, as an editor, publisher, and a re-emerging writer, I have a copy of it on my bookshelf close by. Are the topics dated? Well, some of them are to a degree but the ideas are solid and it is still selling off the shelves, and that can’t be for novelty’s sake. Who better than Stephen King to learn from that a man who has made a very nice career out of scaring the shit out of his readers? Who better indeed.
One day Mr. King, I would like to take you to a baseball game, buy you a few hot dogs and beers, and enjoy the afternoon with you cheering not only for the Red Sox but scaring the crap out of those sitting in the row with us. You keep writing, and I will forever keep reading.
Edd Sowder is an avid fan and “apt pupil.” Most refer to him as the “Executive-flunky” who runs Burning Willow Press but secretly, he is thinks of himself as BATMAN.
Realistically, he is a Detroit-born, Southern-at-heart lover of music, fast cars, horses, two-wheeled hawgs and likes tinkering with anything mechanical or home improvising. He’s well educated, with three degrees; one in Physics. He is well read and spends a lot of time looking to make other’s dreams come true with his publishing company. He has over 1000 poems and short-stories he is working on putting out to the masses, and he has started over twenty novels that are in the WIP to be subbed outside of BWP. He is married to novelist Kindra Sowder and has plenty of children both biological and personally adopted that he claims along with three somewhat obnoxious cats that keep him from being productive at inopportune times of the day.
To sample his work, pick up Southern Fried Autopsies HERE.
Crossroads in the Dark IV: GHOSTS HERE.
Or visit TBK Magazine’s Word Vomit HERE.
Amazon Author Page HERE.
He is a founding partner and current Vice President of Burning Willow Press.
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He regrets that his personal Twitter page, Instagram, Google+, Linked In, and others are neglected severely.