Stephen King. I haven’t read all of his books, but I’ve done quite a few. I’ve watched movies based on some. I read my first story by him in Junior High School. I’ve even read books about him. From what I can tell, he’s actually a man with his head on straight. While some may find that a strange thing to write about a horror writer, it’s been my experience that those who enjoy horror, either as producers or consumers, are generally good people. Recently King was testifying against the proposed buyout of Simon & Schuster by Penguin Random House. Penguin Random House is already the largest trade publisher in the world. The buyout would probably benefit King personally, but he testified it would make things worse for other writers and for independent bookstores.
How many people these days argue against things that benefit them personally? Certainly not elected officials, particularly of what used to be a grand old party. It’s all about me! That seems to be the mantra of late capitalism. King has publicly called for his own taxes to be raised. This is nothing short of heroic. While the Good Book advocates over and over for this kind of behavior, “Bible believers” have somehow overlooked it. Leave it to a horror writer to get to the heart of the message. I have no idea if King is part of any religious group or not—he certainly uses a lot of religious imagery and many religious concepts in his writing. Of course, you don’t have to be in such a group to embody their proclaimed principles.
Thinking of the needs of others was drilled into me as child raised in a Fundamentalist faith. Looking around me these days, I don’t see many Fundamentalists that hold to that any more. Enamored of power—especially the power to control other people’s lives—they flock after rich pretenders who care nothing for the Gospel. Sacrifice (for that’s what we’re talking about here) is something horror writers know well. It’s never easy giving up something that’s valuable to you. Or even thinking about it. Writing, while very enjoyable, is hard work. Training your mind is like physical exercise—it doesn’t just happen. I’ve got a few Stephen King novels on my “to read” pile. They’re big books, often intimidatingly so. Once I start reading, however, I know I’ll find the work engaging. And if I pay attention, there will be a message there too.