The official blog of author Jean Marie Bauhaus

Tag: Stephen King

Any day that involves a sonic screwdriver is a good day.

Today I added 486 words to Radium Town — 182 this afternoon plus another 304 just now. That brings the grand total so far to 6,919. I’m frustrated that it’s going so slowly, but considering that up until this time last week I hadn’t written anything on it in over a year, nor had I written any fiction whatsoever in several weeks, I guess I’ll cut myself some slack. I’m still figuring out this world and these characters. I’m confident that I’ll pick up the pace once it’s all more familiar to me and the plot gets rolling along.

Here’s the rough, non-spoilery snapshot of today’s output:

Betty shifted in her seat. She wasn’t accustomed to being the center of conversation. That was uncomfortable enough without having attention called to Will’s regard for her. She could sense Will fidgeting uncomfortably in his seat, as well. She braced herself for the joke he was certain to make, but to her surprised he simply said, “Nope. Not surprised at all.” She turned toward him in time to catch him looking at her, a mixture of pride and wonder on his face. Betty quickly looked down at her plate and took a bite of her roast quail.

Matt and I both felt better today, and a mix of cabin fever and spring fever made us antsy to get out of the house for a while. We went to Gardner’s Used Books, where we scored a beautiful set of second edition Lord of the Rings trade paperbacks in really good condition.

I also nabbed the next Dark Tower book (Wolves of Calla; I’m currently making my way through Wizard and Glass) and the latest Rizzoli and Isles novel (spellcheck wants to change Rizzoli to grizzly; considering what a scary mama-bear book Rizzoli can be that seems appropos). And being that I’ve been reading all this dark stuff lately (House of Leaves, scads of Stephen King, The Ocean at the End of the Lane which is lovely but not exactly the happiest of Neil Gaiman’s books), I also grabbed Maybe Baby by Lani Diane Rich, because I’m starting to crave something light and fluffy to cleanse my palate, and also because Lani is awesome.

And speaking of LDR, I’ve also finally begun listening to the Story Wonk podcast she does with her husband, Alastair Stephens. You should listen to it, too.

The first 182 words today were added from a booth at the coffee shop at Gardner’s, where I dorked out when Matt showed me the LotR set he’d found, and then dorked out again when I got up to the coffee counter and saw a replica of Eleven’s sonic screwdriver sitting next to the cash register. The barista (who might actually be the shop’s owner) let me hold it. It was shiny. I want one.

Came home, fed the dog, apologized profusely for leaving him and the kitties so long, took him and the turtle out in the back yard to soak up the sun, came back in and fed the turtle, wrote some freelance website copy, fed myself (well, Matt fed me) and watched Wolf Creek 2 before Matt turned in and I got busy writing.

Not at all what I’d call a bad day. And now I’m going to go dork out over Supernatural and SHIELD before I turn in.

Rediscovering Stephen King

I’m still in an odd place where I don’t really know what to write about here. I think it might help remedy that if I can stop thinking of this as my “author blog” and just see it as my blog. I also think the creative part of my brain largely went into hibernation for the winter. It seems to be starting to awaken, as gradually and as grumpily as my box turtle, Matilda, as I try to prod her out of the hole she’s burrowed in and into the light.

My creative mind hasn’t been in total hibernation — and neither has Matilda; she wakes up a couple times a week to eat and bang around her terrarium before burying herself again. Similarly, my imagination has woken up a few times a week, long enough for me to bang out a few hundred words on my current novel before it slips back into slumber. I started in in January, hoping to have the first draft done by my birthday, but eking out time to write my fiction is as difficult as mustering up the energy has been. As of now, I’ve got about 5 chapters done, just short of 10,000 words.

What it is, by the by, is the follow up to Restless Spirits, tentatively titled Intruder. If you’re signed up to my mailing list, then you’ve already been shown the first chapter.

So as my creative brain is trying it’s best to drag its crusty self into the sunshine, I’ve been trying to feed and water it and give it vitamins and exercise to get it energized again. I’ve been doing this mainly by reading, and what I’ve mainly been reading is Stephen King novels.

I was a huge fan of Stephen King when I was a kid. We’re talking teen years, probably 13 or 14 to about 18, the ages they market YA to now, which is why I can’t get too bent out of shape when somebody complains about a YA novel having content that might be too mature for their 15 year old. I mean, I was reading The Stand at that age. The unabridged version, even. I loved many books before my Stephen King phase, and I’d done some creative writing by then (I actually think I wrote my first short story in first grade — it was about a sentient, anthropomorphic football, I think), but I think it’s safe to say that King was the author who made me decide I wanted to be an author, too.

Back then, it was all horror. I was a pretty big horror fan in general (that also went back to surprisingly (disturbingly?) early in my childhood), so King’s stories fit right in. In addition to The Stand, during those years I read It (or tried — I was too scared to finish it), Pet Semetary (ditto), ‘Salem’s Lot, Misery and, among others, Danse Macabre (not horror, but it was about horror, so that was alright; what wasn’t alright was my twelfth grade English teacher assigning us book reports on nonfiction and then sniffing haughtily when I turned in my paper, insisting that Stephen King never wrote any nonfiction and giving me an automatic F without even looking at the book). I devoured them every chance I got.

Once I got into college, I decided I needed to diversify my reading more, so I read less of Stephen King, and even less as I progressed through my twenties and into my thirties. The newer books I’d read, including Dolores Clayborne and Rose Madder, just didn’t pack the same punch for me, and I wasn’t sure whether I was just outgrowing him or he was losing his touch. At any rate, by the time I got around to picking up a beat-up copy of The Gunslinger at a used book store about four or five years ago, it had been years since I’d read any of his work, not counting On Writing.

I read it then, and I enjoyed it well enough, but as far as epic fantasy series go I was too mired down in one of my every-so-often rereads of  A Song of Ice and Fire to commit myself to another one. So it was another couple of years before I found the second book, The Drawing of the Three, at the same book store and gave it a read. Of course, that was around the time A Dance with Dragons finally came out, so I forgot about Roland and company for a while. Last year I picked up the third book, The Waste Lands, and added it to the big stack of paperbacks on my nightstand to wait until my life settled down enough to allow me time for leisure reading once again.

If you read my last book post, then you know getting through that big stack of books was one of my goals for the new year. I finally made my way through the stack to TWL last month. Since then, I’ve pretty much been on a Stephen King binge. I devoured The Waste Lands, and now I’m speeding my way through the fourth book, Wizard and Glass. In between (because I had to wait until the bookstore got a copy of book four in stock, and because it was already next in my big book stack anyway), I breezed through Stephen King Goes to the Movies, a collection of stories that have been adapted for the big screen. This includes 1408, The Mangler, Low Men in Yellow Coats, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption and Children of the Corn.

While I enjoyed the horror stories, particularly The Mangler (which reminded me a little of my short story Snack Machine), I’m finding that at this point of my life I much more enjoy his fantasy works and his more realistic dramas like Shawshank Redemption (in which the book’s narrator being described as a white, red-haired Irishman did not prevent me from hearing Morgan Freeman’s narration in my head as I read it). I particularly enjoyed Low Men in Yellow Coats, on which the movie Hearts in Atlantis is based, and which is part of the greater multiverse revolving around the Dark Tower.

I think what’s surprising me as I read these stories is the quality of the writing. I remember King being a great storyteller, but I don’t recall his prose being such a joy to read. It’s fairly straightforward, as he tends to get to the point and not linger more on description than he needs to, but at times it’s almost poetic without being flowery. The other thing is, although these stories still have their little moments of horror and squick and punches right to the gut, they’ve also got a lot of heart, and characters who are loveable despite being complex and complicated and at times downright despicable.

And that’s how, after a gap of more than a decade, I can go back to labeling myself a huge Stephen King fan. And now I’m going to go back to reading Wizard and Glass.

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