Stephen King: The master of mayhem and why I love horror


I like monsters, chainsaws, wormholes, haunted houses, Stephen King, the weird and the bizarre, the unexpected, and anything that goes bump in the night.

I like being surprised, scared, shocked, or grossed out. I have bad taste, bad taste, baby! But it all started with a ghost story. I love ghost stories because all you need is one person’s mind — no lights, sound effects, or blood bags – just the story, bare simple.

My Dad and his girlfriend used to tell scary stories after dinner, I remember being scared to sleep at night, but I loved their tales about a haunted railroad track, screaming ghost babies, and poltergeists throwing potatoes in an old house in Chile.

But I soon discovered Stephen King because blood calls to blood. I discovered him in KMART of all places. KMART was the cool place to hang out in Kendall. They had a decent book section in those days, well for Florida, at least. One day I saw the cover of Salem’s Lot, it featured a nearly translucent, brooding entity with blood dripping out of its mouth, and I was like:


Salem’s Lot 2 – Courtesy of Warner Brothers’ Television

And that was the beginning of my obsession with Stephen King. I wanted to read everything by him. He was better than a mother or a father or money, even. He was a creator of worlds! Bloody rafts, haunted cars, demons…this, this was my universe. I liked Stephen King, I liked his mind. I didn’t have many interesting people to talk to then, being a half-Mexican, half-Yankee tomboy weirdo in the boonies, so I bonded with Stephen King’s characters.

The drama teacher at South Miami Elementary, Mr. McNamara, took pity on me, I guess, because I couldn’t or wouldn’t stop talking about Stephen King. He started bringing me old paperbacks that his wife owned, most likely to shut me up in class. He gave me Christine, The Shining, and Pet Sematary and that was it, I had found my world.

After that I became a horror junkie. We didn’t have cable or video games growing up, so in a way I was forced to read, but it served me well.

I love other horror writers too, who helped me in my tweens, teens, and early ’20s, like: Clive Barker, Shirley Jackson, Ray Bradbury, Thomas Harris, William Peter Blatty, Daphne du Maurier, Edgar Allan Poe, Anne Rice, Peter Straub, and dozens of obscure but wonderful horror writers, such as Josh Webster, who wrote the delightfully, pulpy horror novel, The Doll.

But Stephen King is my favorite, overall, because of IT, Firestarter, The Stand, The Dead ZoneThe Shining, Skeleton Crew, Misery, and Carrie. But his canon is legion.

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To me, the magic of Stephen King is the troubled characters he creates, who seem so real, so vivid. I understood why Beverly Marsh in IT was miserable in school, because it wasn’t just the students or even Pennywise who were mean, it was also the teachers – is there anything more horrific than a mean teacher? Or a mean parent?

That’s why Stephen King’s horror fiction is so effective, because not only does he create incredible worlds, he also discerns how horrible human beings can be to each other, which is the true horror. It’s not the clown! It’s the town! It’s not IT. It’s DERRY.

Strange to think, but horror fiction can be cathartic. It’s comforting to know that we aren’t alone — if Beverly, Danny, or Frannie can survive a hell hole of a universe, well then, by god, so can we all.

Next. Deadwax premieres on Shudder in November. dark

Do you like horror fiction? Is there a Stephen King novel that is your favorite? If so, let us know in the comments!