Opinion: Halloween and Stephen King

Autumn is my favorite time of year and it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Halloween is my favorite holiday. As the weather cools off and the leaves turn colors my thoughts naturally turn to things that go bump in the night.

My favorite author, Stephen King, has through his career raised the bar for horror fiction to a whole new level.

His latest book, “If It Bleeds,” is a collection of four novellas collected in one 436-page volume. When King’s first novel, “Carrie,” came out, I didn’t notice. It was his second novel, “Firestarter,” which really got my attention.

An incredibly good friend, Glenda Thomas, loaned me her copy and said, “You won’t be able to put it down!” My attitude was “Never happen!”

By that time, 1974, I had read so many books that I didn’t believe there was any book “I couldn’t put down.”

I was wrong. Firestarter is that book.

It’s a story of a family whose mother and father had been given a psychotropic substance as part of a human drug trial. The shadowy government agency involved debuted in the story was called, “The Shop.”

The child in this story had a paranormal talent enabling her to bring forth fire with the power of her mind. Naturally, The Shop wanted to weaponize the child. Mayhem ensues.

Once I started reading Firestarter, I was glued to that book for a day and a half.

I went back and read his first novel, “Carrie,” but I was already hooked wanting to read everything he had written. Since 1974, some 46 years later, I have waited with bated breath for the next story from the mind of King.

The advent of the Internet has made for great discussion groups on Facebook with other members of the King fandom.

Back in 2016, his publisher announced that King was doing a book tour to pump-up sales for his latest novel, “End of Watch.”

Two of the stops on the tour were in Nashville and Reno.

At that time, I was already planning a trip to Nashville to visit my favorite aunt and uncle, Pete and Nada Kirk. King just selected the date for me.

The Ryman Auditorium, home to the famous Grand Ol’ Opry in Nashville, served as the venue and King spoke for an hour. He also took some questions from the floor. My cousin Lori Woody got us tickets and that summer I had the best vacation of my life!

The weekend following his Nashville signing, King spoke in Reno. I was blessed to get tickets to that appearance as well.

The way the lectures worked, the price of admission was the buying of his latest book, “End of Watch.”

In Nashville, the books were passed out as the audience left the arena. Of the 2,000-plus books randomly distributed, 400 of them were autographed. We missed the lottery of a signed book in Nashville, but I still had another chance in Reno. At the bookstore where the lecture was held in Reno, there were only 400 tickets issued so we each got a signed copy.

I have a couple more signed books in my collection that I greatly appreciate.

Since the release of Carrie in 1974, King has written 61 novels, seven of them under the pseudonym of Richard Bachman. He has also released several collections of the long-short stories he calls novellas.

He has written so many large volumes that they are referred to as his bricks. Those are my favorite type.

His latest release, titled “If It Bleeds,” is a hat tip to the old newspaper bon mote to the term “If it bleeds, it leads.”

His next book, scheduled to be released March 2, is titled “Later.” It is part of the Titan Book’s Hard Case Crime series.

If you need a vacation from all the garbage on television get your spooky on and read a Stephen King novel. The absolute best part of reading a book, no commercials!

Long days and pleasant nights have a great weekend.

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Readers may contact Tami Jo Nix by emailing tamijonix@gmail.com or following @TamiJoNix on Twitter.

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