by Jenna Jaxon
Although these days I primarily read historical romances, I also have a great love for non-romance books as well. Before I began writing romance, the only books I read were not by romance authors. My Christmas list always had the same names on it: Stephen King, Patricia Cornwell, John Grisham, and Phillipa Gregory. I lived for their one book a year and would hole up somewhere, demand my family not speak to me until I came up for air—at the end of one book but before the next one.
My all-time favorite non-romance author is Stephen King. I’ve been reading his books since I was in my late teens, early twenties, and I started, unknowingly, with Carrie. An uncle had given me a big bag of books, and I was going through them and ran across Carrie. Started reading and couldn’t put it down. I was fascinated with the way in which the story was told, as a series of newspaper articles and commission reports after the fact of the “incident” with Carrie White. I remember thinking this was a fantastic book.
Then I didn’t read any more Stephen King for more than 10 years. I hadn’t recognized the name of the author of Carrie, so I wasn’t particularly looking for him again. When I did pick up another of his books, it was completely by chance and because I thought he was someone else. When I was young, I read a short story called “The Lonesome Place,” about two boys who, at the end of the story, are going out to kill a monster they had created from their imagination. When I read the back blurb on Stephen King’s It, about a group of kids returning to their hometown to kill a monster, I related it to the other story and bought it.
I have been having a love affair with Stephen King’s writing ever since.
No one, I think, has ever been able to suck me into a book as quickly as Stephen King. His characters are so real, and I can identify with them so quickly and easily, I don’t dare pick one of his books up unless I had five or six hours to spare. Because once I open the covers, all I wanted to do until I reached The End is read. I have read most of them (until we get to Under the Dome) multiple times. Oh, there have been a few that I was less engrossed in—The Tommyknockers and From A Buick 8 come immediately to mind—but many of the ones in my library have a very well-thumbed look. It I finally had to buy a second copy of because that first one started to fall apart. My copy of The Drawing of the Three—my favorite King after It—has so many creases I may have to buy a new one of those as well.
I was so obsessed with King’s Dark Tower series I became terribly paranoid that I would not live to read the end of it. So I devised scenarios where I sought Mr. King out and begged for an advance copy if I were diagnosed with a terminal illness. When I found out about his accident, that almost killed him, I was again terrified he wouldn’t live to finish the series (as were most of his fans I suspect). But he did, and I read it, and all’s right with the world (or worlds when talking about that series).
Unfortunately, after I began writing romance, my focus shifted to romance novels, and I have not read as many of Mr. King’s novels in the past eight years (Under the Dome, which I got for Christmas in 2008, was the first book of his that I did not finish due to lack of time). The one I did open with the sense of coming home again was 11/22/63 about the Kennedy assassination. Read it not as quickly as usual, but steadily, a chapter or two every night, until about 2/3s into the novel, then just stayed up all night to finish it.
And my love affair with Stephen King continues on.