Stephen King on What He Read as a Kid

by Ken Tucker

Stephen King’s Joyland leads our roundup of the season’s most thrilling reads. Watch behind-the-scenes video from the author’s photo shoot and read the PARADE cover story below.

There are authors who write best sellers, and authors who write literary fiction; those who become celebrities, and those whose books make the leap to film, TV, and the stage. Very few authors achieve all of this, butStephen King is one of them—the king of them, in a way. Before his breakthrough novel, 1974’s Carrie, horror was a dank subgenre of publishing. What King showed the world was a new way to scare people: By writing in clear, compelling prose incorporating twists on everyday life (the tribulations of an unpopular high school girl in Carrie; a troubled family in The Shining), he made the fright genre more emotional and universal.

He also began to transcend that genre. In tales like “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption,” King extended his range to become, simply, a first-rate storyteller. It’s a skill that deepens in his new novel, Joyland, a paperback original due June 4 from the highly regarded small press Hard Case Crime. (It has already been optioned for the screen by the director ofThe Help.) Set in the early 1970s, Joyland follows lovelorn college student Devin Jones, who, while working at a small-time amusement park, learns the secret history behind a shocking murder. “I loved county fairs when I was a kid,” King says. “There’s sort of a cheesy, exciting feel to them, and I decided that’s what I wanted to write about.”


At this point in your career, what’s the main reason to get up and compose your daily 1,500 words?
The major job is still to entertain people. Joyland really took off for me when the old guy who owns the place says, “Never forget, we sell fun.” That’s what we’re supposed to do—writers, filmmakers, all of us. That’s why they let us stay in the playground.



 Tidbits: for full interview, click here. 

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