I reckon the first adult book I read, after The Lord of the Rings, was The Dark Half by Stephen King. I reckon, I can’t quite remember. Terry Pratchett and Wuthering Heights are in there somewhere as well. It was a hazy time full of beautiful words. Maybe it’s sad but that’s the part of my childhood I remember the best.
The Dark Half, from what I can remember was completely engaging and definitely sparked my love of horror. On an aside, it’s interesting that I’ve never been scared from reading a horror story. There are scary films and games and there are parts of books that have disturbed me and stayed with me, though they aren’t necessarily in the horror genre (in particular some parts of American Psycho which the film did not convey well at all). Maybe it’s partly because we’re desensitised to things like gore and violence and it’s harder to achieve a psychologically chilling atmosphere with writing, something I am always striving to do. If I can frighten myself I know I’m doing well. Stephen King has come close but it is his writing skill and his characters that I remember most from reading his books.
His imagination knows no bounds and that is inspiring in itself. The Dark Tower series is my favourite, not just for the story but for the characters and the journeys they take, both physically and mentally.
I feel nostalgic thinking about Stephen King’s books; I don’t read them so much anymore (I’ve got so much to read and get through!) but I always remember them fondly, even the ones I didn’t enjoy as much. I think I’ve been pretty lucky to be able to grow up reading people like Terry Pratchett and Stephen King; it’s helped shaped me as a writer and maybe as a person. I might not be so open to speculative fiction if I hadn’t read them.
As far as writing advice goes, Stephen King is very generous. That is another reason is high on my list as an inspiration. He gives great advice and he doesn’t sugar coat it:
If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.
On the most basic level for a writer that’s all you need to know to get started. Read, read, read and write, write, write. It’s not even a chore because reading is one of the greatest pleasure there is (for me and for many others, not for everyone. But then they’re not the people who want to be writers so it’s ok). And so is writing, once you get over the fear and feeling of inadequacy. Or maybe you never get over it. Either way it’s still enjoyable.
I’ll finish with another quote from the main man of horror because I like quotes and it saves me trying to think of a good way to end this post. Also it’s just good advice:
Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.