Guest Post by D. Melhoff
Why My Mother Loves Stephen King and Hates Stephenie Meyer: A Look at Mainstream Fiction
By: D. Melhoff | November 19
My mother tried reading Twilight back when it was all the rage, but stopped after the first thirty pages.
To be fair, she’s never read Harry Potter either. Or Lord of the Rings. Or The Vampire Chronicles. Or Game of Thrones.
But what confuses me is that she loves Stephen King.
In fact, she’s read more King than anyone I know. She devours his new releases, she’s gone to hear him speak, and she’s stalked him for autographs with almost Annie Wilkes-like fervor.
So what’s going on here? How come when I ask her if she would like a new vampire book for Christmas, she tells me absolutely not, and yet she adored ‘Salem’s Lot? Or why did she love The Shining and hate Hell House and The Haunting of Hill House? She sailed through The Stand (extended version) no problem, but couldn’t be bothered by I Am Legend; and Carrie was completely fine, but try taking her to see X-Men or Push and you’ll probably get a slap across the back of the head.
I can point to a dozen other examples, but we’re all busy and I don’t want to waste your time. The fact is, my mother usually likes historical dramas, contemporary romances, true stories, and crime fiction—anything that has or could happen—but for some reason she always makes one exception. Stephen King.
Is it just good marketing? I don’t think so. If that were the case, she would’ve given up on him long ago.
So what’s the secret ingredient? Does King have higher concept ideas than other fiction authors? Or better pacing? Or a stronger vocabulary?
Needless to say, I’ve always been curious. So one day I asked her what she enjoys about Stephen’s books so much, and her response was simple: his characters. ‘Alright,’ I thought, ‘that’s a little vague.’ But when I asked her to elaborate, the follow-up was a lot more interesting. Put on the spot, she started listing the first words and phrases that came to mind—words like: ‘incredible backstories’, ‘strong dialogue’, ‘his attention to detail’, ‘the humor’, ‘they’re fun’, ‘they’re funny’, and ‘it’s so real’.
I think she hit a few nails on the head there.
For her, King’s greatest strength is his ability to build a world and populate it with characters that feel as real—and have as deep of histories—as you and I. Along the way, he’s able to convey these backstories as entertainingly as possible and pair the action with sharp wit and a constant sense of humor. The man can slay you with a well-timed aphorism, an astute observation, or a comparison from his arsenal of seemingly endless similes, and he does so at a prolific pace.
In his book On Writing, King likens the process of storytelling to paleontology. He says:
"…Stories are relics, part of an undiscovered pre-existing world. The writer's job is to use the tools in his or her toolbox to get as much of each one out of the ground in tact as possible. Sometimes the fossil you uncover is small; a seashell. Sometimes it's enormous, a Tyrannosaurus Rex with all those gigantic ribs and grinning teeth.”
In staying with this metaphor, I’d say the reason my mother enjoys the “relics” in the Museum of King so much isn’t necessarily because they’re the biggest fossils on display, or the rarest. It’s because they’re so exquisitely excavated and presented for visitors to see.
Sure, the Museum of Meyer across the street is just as busy, filled with people who have come to see the one lumbering T-Rex that was crudely jackhammered out of its resting place and assembled with Elmer’s glue, but it’s not my mother’s idea of an enjoyable afternoon, so she’ll skip it.
As a horror writer with my own excavating to do, I’d have to say I’ve inherited my mother’s taste for stories. If you’re looking for something to read, pick up Come Little Children and let me know which museum you think it belongs in.
D. Melhoff is the author of Come Little Children, a new thriller about a family of morticians who are connected to a string of paranormal murders in the secluded town of Nolan, Yukon.
Genre: Horror, Thriller, Supernatural Thriller
Publisher: Bellwoods Publishing
Cover Artist: Carl Graves
Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/nM0QAA607yo
The Nolan morgue is more than just an ordinary funeral home.
When their newest employee uncovers a supernatural conspiracy connected to a string of child murders, she must use every shred of her intelligence to stop a new breed of serial killer and escape the morgue alive.
About the Author:
D. Melhoff was born in a prairie ghost town located an inch above the Canadian-American border. He credits King, Poe, Hitchcock, Harris, Raimi, and his second grade school teacher, Mrs. Lake, for turning him to horror.