Stephen King, the Master of Horror, is a prolific writer who has sold more than 350 million books worldwide, seen most of his works turned into movies and television programs, and won many prestigious awards, such as the O. Henry short story prize and the National Medal of Arts for his contributions to literature. But through all of his successes, Stephen King has remained a bit of a mystery. He continues to live in his home state of Maine and avoids the limelight as much as possible, yet the renowned author has many interesting quirks and things that most people probably don’t know about him.
10. He Is Afraid Of The Number 13
Even though he has written more horror novels than many people will even read in their entire lifetime, King has real life fears just like the rest of us. One of his biggest fears concerns the number 13, which many people consider to be unlucky, and which is an actual condition known as “Triskaidekaphobia”. It sounds crazy, but phobias are irrational by nature, and King takes this fear very seriously. He once explained his issues with the number in this way: “The number 13 never fails to trace that old icy finger up and down my spine. When I’m writing, I’ll never stop work if the page number is 13 or a multiple of 13; I’ll just keep on typing till I get to a safe number. I always take the last two steps on my back stairs as one, making 13 into 12. There were, after all, 13 steps on the English gallows up until 1900 or so. When I’m reading, I won’t stop on page 94, 193 or 382, since the sums of these numbers add up to 13.”
9. He Is A Recovering Alcoholic
King has been clean and sober for more than 20 years, but throughout much of the 70’s and 80’s he battled a drinking problem, and still describes himself as an alcoholic to this day. Allegedly, his drinking was so bad that he has said that he doesn’t remember writing some of his most popular books, including Cujo. He has also stated that The Shining was written as a metaphor about a man battling his alcoholism. In a weird twist, the satirical website The Onion once published what they thought was a fake and humorous piece saying that Stephen King couldn’t remember writing the book The Tommyknockers. only for King to come out and reveal that the story was actually true, and he didn’t remember anything about the book until he went back and read it again once he was sober.
8. He Was Declared Unfit For Military Service
King came of age for military service during the Vietnam War in the 1960’s, and like all young men at that time, he reported to his local draft board. However, King was declared “4F,” which (as anyone who watch Captain America: The First Avenger can probably tell you) means he was unfit for military service. Army doctors found that he had terrible vision, punctured ear drums, flat feet and abnormally high blood pressure for someone who was only in his early 20’s at the time. The Army doctor who examined King apparently remarked “You’re a mess, boy,” and ruled him out on the spot. However, King wasn’t too bothered by this development, given that he devoted a considerable amount of time while a student at the University of Maine to protesting the Vietnam War effort on campus.
7. He Hates The Kubrick Film Version Of ‘The Shining’
The 1980 movie version of the King’s novel The Shining, which was directed by Stanley Kubrick and stars Jack Nicholson, is a critical darling and widely considered not only the best film adaptation of a Stephen King book, but also one of the best horror movies of all time. Yet King, to this day, has regularly told people how much hates the movie. He once told the BBC: “The book is hot. The movie is cold. The book ends in fire, and the movie in ice. In the book, there’s this arc where you see this guy, Jack Torrance, trying to do good and little by little he moves over to this place where he is crazy. When I saw the movie, Jack was crazy from the first scene”. King has also said that he doesn’t understand the fandom that has developed around the film over the years.
6. He Is In The Guinness Book Of World Records
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, more Stephen King books have been made into movies than any other living author. Among King novels that have been adapted to the big screen are classic films such as Carrie, Christine, The Shining, Misery, and The Shawshank Redemption. In addition, many of King’s short stories have also been made into popular and critically acclaimed films, notably Stand By Me and The Green Mile. Even today, movies and television shows based on his works are being made, including the TV drama Under The Dome and the upcoming movie based on The Dark Tower. King himself has had cameos in many of his movies, such as Pet Semetary and Needful Things. He also directed the 1986 movie Maximum Overdrive, which was based on one of his short stories (although most fans and critics consider it to be the worst movie that adapts his works).
5. He Is Slowly Going Blind
King has always worn thick glasses, and you may have noticed that they have gotten thicker over time. This is because the author suffers from a condition called “macular degeneration,” which is the loss of a person’s central vision. An estimated 10 million people suffer from the condition and the end result is typically total blindness, though not in all cases. As a result, King’s vision is very poor and at this point, he is nearly legally blind. King has said, with his typical sardonic wit, “The part of my vision that I want to keep, both as a man and as a writer, is what I can see out of the corners of my eyes!” All joking aside, the degeneration has limited the things that Stephen King can do over the years, and he has said it has even made writing difficult as he grows older.
4. He Once Wrote A Musical With John Mellencamp
Stephen King is a huge music fan. He often quotes lyrics from his favourite songs in his books, wrote the liner notes for a Ramones tribute album, and even plays in his own band called The Rock Bottom Remainders. He once even collaborated with Michael Jackson on a 40 minute music video called “Ghosts”. However, what is not as well-known is that King wrote a musical along with singer/songwriter John Mellencamp that was called Ghost Brothers of Darkland County. The concept was a Southern Gothic tale of two brothers who hate one another, but are forced by their father to spend time in a haunted cabin, where they are visited by the ghosts of dead brothers who also hated one another. The musical debuted in Atlanta, Georgia in 2012, and there was even a shortlived tour across the U.S. in 2013. You can even find the soundtrack online!
3. He Got His Start Writing For Porn Magazines
King first received payment for his writing from adult magazines like Playboy and Cavalier. These magazines bought and published King’s early short stories, usually for less than $100 apiece. King has often said that he was grateful to the magazines for publishing his work and paying him. Although some authors would probably shudder at their writing appearing in porn magazines, King has never hesitated to say that he was proud to see his early writing published anywhere, even if it was in an adult magazine. The short stories from this early period have all been collected into a book called Night Shift.
2. He Coached A Little League Baseball Team To A State Championship
Stephen King is known to be a die-hard baseball fan who regularly cheers for the Boston Red Sox. However, he has also coached baseball throughout his life. In fact, he coached his son Owen’s little league team, the Bangor West Club, to a state championship in 1989. King is so proud of this accomplishment that he frequently mentions it in interviews and even wrote about the euphoria he experienced winning the Maine Little League Title in the prestigious New Yorker magazine, in an article titled “Head Down”. King has also said that coaching baseball helped to bring him closer to his children, and that his family has bonded around their shared love of America’s national pastime.
1. He Donates A Lot Of Money To Charity
It’s probably no surprise that King is fairly rich, but did you know that he gives a lot of his money away to charity? It’s true. King donates $4 million each year to libraries, schools and local fire departments, and has also been known to buy and donate “jaws of life” equipment to fire departments in need of the lifesaving gear. He also donates an additional $3 million a year to literacy programs and other charities. King has even been known to pay the heating bills of poor families in Maine during the winter months, and the college tuition of students in need of financial help. Most of this charitable giving goes unnoticed, however, as the author is shy about promoting his good deeds. but it shows that Stephen King is a great person as well as a great writer.