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The Quick 10: 10 Facts About Stephen King

It’s Stephen King’s birthday! Do you suppose he’s celebrating somewhere with a Bloody Mary? (He’s not: see Fact #8.) I know – just because a guy writes in the horror genre doesn’t mean he loves all things creepy. But in King’s case, I think he does. Anyway. Whether you like his writing or consider it fluff, he’s one of the most successful and prolific authors out there, so today’s Q10 commemorates the King of Terror’s 62 years.

graves1. King and his wife, Tabitha, own “The Zone Corporation,” a company that serves to head their three radio stations in Maine. One of them, WKIT, goes by the tagline “Stephen King’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Station” and has a mascot named Doug E. Graves. That’s him in the picture to the left. The picture is from the website of Christian Hanson, the artist who made the mask, by the way. Only four were ever produced and at least one of them resides in King’s private collection.

2. He’s a hardcore Red Sox fan. Not only did he write a story about the Sox – The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon (a former BoSox pitcher) – he also had a little cameo in the Jimmy Fallon/Drew Barrymore movie Fever Pitch, which is about a crazed Boston fan. He plays himself and throws out the first pitch at a game. And, in 2004, he and Stewart O’Nan, another novelist, chronicled their reactions to the season that finally brought the World Series title back to Beantown. It’s appropriately titled Faithful: Two Diehard Boston Red Sox Fans Chronicle the Historic 2004 Season.

3. You probably remember that King was hit by a van not far from his home in 1999. He suffered from a collapsed lung, a broken hip, a gash to the head and a leg broken in nine places. Afterward, King and his lawyer bought the van for $1,500 and when King was better, he wailed on it with a baseball bat before sending it to be crushed at a junkyard.

4. There may be a reason for the way his brain seems to be able to create chilling stories at such an amazing clip: he saw a friend get struck and killed by a train when he was just a kid. The idea that such a traumatizing event stuck with him and inspired his line of work is one that King shrugs off.

5. He wrote a musical with John Mellencamp. It’s based on a house that Mellencamp bought in Indiana that came complete with a ghost story. The legend is that three siblings were messing around in the woods and one of the brothers accidentally got shot. The surviving brother and sister jumped in the car to go get help, and in their panic, swerved off the road right into a tree and were killed instantly. Of course, the three now haunt the woods by the house Mellencamp bought. The singer approached King about maybe doing something with the story, and between the two of them, they wrote songs and a plot for a musical called The Ghost Brothers of Darkland County.

6. If you’re a regular Q10 reader, you already know that Stephen King plays rhythm guitar for a band made up of writers. They’re called The Rock Bottom Remainders and they “tour” about once a year. King shares the stage with Amy Tan, Mitch Albom, Matt Groening and Ridley Pearson, among others.

kingshouse7. He writes about Maine a lot because he knows and loves Maine. He grew up there and now lives in Bangor. Castle Rock, Derry, and Jerusalem’s Lot are just products of King’s imagination, but he can tell you exactly where in the state they would be if they were real. And his house is awesome. The gate is why I think he appreciates all things creepy, or at least has a pretty good sense of humor about himself. J.W. over at Odd Things I’ve Seen has written a post about his trip to King’s manor, should you feel inclined to virtually drop in.

8. Maybe this is a surprise and maybe it isn’t – King had pretty serious drug and alcohol addictions in the ‘80s. He says that he doesn’t remember writing Cujo at all, really, and wishes he could. It came to a head when his family members confronted him with drug paraphernalia they had collected from his trash can, including Xanax, cocaine, beer cans and Valium. It was the eye-opener he needed: he got help and has been sober ever since.

9. King is an avid Lost fan and sometimes writes about it in his Entertainment Weekly column “The Pop of King.” The feeling is mutual – the writers mentioned that King was a major influence in their work. There was a lot of speculation that he was the man behind Bad Twin, a Lost tie-in mystery published a few years ago, but he has debunked that rumor. He loves Hurley and Ben.

10. Of the five people in the immediate King family, four of them are authors. Tabitha King, Stephen’s wife, has seven published novels. Joe, their oldest son, followed in his dad’s footsteps and is a horror writer (I really like his books, for what it’s worth). Youngest child Owen has written a collection of short stories and one novella (and he married a writer). Naomi, the only King daughter, is a minister and gay activist.

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