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A Brief Guide to Stephen King
Paul Simpson
Constable & Robinson, 304 pages

A Brief Guide to Stephen King
Paul Simpson
Paul Simpson is the author or co-author of over a dozen non-fiction books including an acclaimed round-up of conspiracy theories. He has edited and contributed to numerous international entertainment magazines and currently oversees news and reviews website

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A review by Sandra Scholes

As the master of suspense and horror, Stephen King's first novel, Carrie was published in April of 1974. 2014 is the 40th anniversary of his first published horror book that set him on the path to stardom.

Everyone has a tale to tell of a moment in their lives that they could not forget. For Stephen King, it was the moment he struggled with his first draft of Carrie, frustrated with how it looked on paper he tossed it in the trash, probably hoping to forget about it, but his devoted wife, Tabitha, rescued the manuscript and read it. Later she would tell him it only needed to be improved on rather than abandoned. It has often been said that there's a good woman behind every good man, and in this case, Tabitha is a very good woman. Since the day King edited the draft and sent it to the publisher, the rest, as they say, is history.

A Brief Guide to Stephen King is a nice, pocket size paperback whose cover sports a rather open photograph of the author sitting in his car. The red, black and white cover is reminiscent of what to expect from a photograph of a horror author as red is the colour of blood and black death, while white is the void between. Paul Simpson breaks each part of King's life into six parts and nineteen chapters starting with part 1: "The Life of Stephen King" where we read about his early life from him first selling his horror stories to magazines to getting his first novel published. Rather than only discussing his books, we get to find out about the man behind the books that influenced several generations of readers enough to want to read the new ones that get released. From his first novel, Carrie in 1974 to his most recent, Doctor Sleep, the sequel to The Shining in 2013, there is all readers need to know and more besides with an Afterword, an Appendix of King's works and the dates they were first published in case anyone wants to track them down. There is also a bibliography of interviews and articles that have appeared in magazines and newspapers worldwide. A normally solitary man, King has done interviews before but often maintained an air of mystery. One of the main points of this book is that in most of King's work aspects of his real life appear in them and. on reading this book. readers will decide which of the novels contains them.

Paul Simpson does a great job of putting a prominent author's life in chapters so he can be appreciated as much as his works.

Copyright © 2014 Sandra Scholes

Sandra has been interviewing some of the best big-eye artists in the field recently and when she isn't working on that, she reviews for the following: The British Fantasy Society, Albedo One, Hellnotes and Diverse Japan.

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