THE 40th ANNIVERSARY OF STEPHEN KING’S “CARRIE”

Ever wonder how Stephen King got his inspiration for his book, “Carrie”? For part of one summer, King worked as a janitor at Brunswick High. One day, he was tasked to scrub the rust-stains off the walls in the girls’ shower. This memory came back to him some time later, and he started seeing the opening scene of a story: girls showering in a locker room where there were no curtains or privacy. One girl starts to have her period. Only she doesn’t know what it is, and the other girls – grossed out, horrified, amused – start pelting her with sanitary napkins … The girl begins to scream. All that blood!

King had also earlier read an article in LIFE magazine, suggesting at least some reported poltergeist activity might actually be telekinetic phenomena –the ability to move objects just by thinking about them. There was some evidence to suggest young people might have such powers, especially girls in early adolescence, around the time of their first period. Two unrelated ideas, adolescent cruelty and telekinesis, came together, and King had his idea. He did three single-spaced pages of a first draft, then crumpled them up in disgust and threw them away.

The next night, when he came home from school, his wife Tabby had the pages. She’d spied them while emptying the waste-basket, and sat down to read them. She wanted King to go on…and the rest is publishing history.

For more from the book world, check my website bookreportradio.com. And tune into my show The Book Report.

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