(A day early, even. Go me!)
I don’t remember how I made the leap from Beverly Cleary to Stephen King. It’s not like I walked into the elementary school library and found his stuff. (Holy crap, maybe I did? I mean, look at all the stuff that was rated PG back then. No way that would fly today.) Anyway, it happened, and it changed my life. I had always loved writing, ever since I could hold a pencil to paper. But it wasn’t until I started reading Stephen King that I developed an outright passion for storytelling. I wanted to do what he did, to create characters and worlds that people would remember long after reading. I wanted to weave words together the way he did. Not in that particular genre; I don’t think I could ever pull off proper horror. But in whatever stories I told. I wanted to be Stephen King when I grew up.
Just when I thought I couldn’t love the guy more, he and alter writing ego, Richard Bachman, had to go and blow my mind with Desperation and The Regulators, respectively. Desperation is my favorite King book because it takes two things I like—horror and spirituality—and combines them so perfectly. And The Regulators is the reason I became obsessed with the idea of alternate/parallel universes in fiction, so those of you who have read my fanfiction can thank him for that.
I still want to be Stephen King when I grow up. It won’t ever happen, but it’s a worthwhile aspiration.