Today Stephen King — yeah, that Stephen King — wrote this to my editor, Katherine Tegen:
I’ve been corresponding with your “Michael Grant” about his Gone books. More important, I’ve been reading the Gone books–the first and Hunger, the follow-up. These are exciting, high-tension stories told in a driving, torrential narrative that never lets up. There are monsters, there are kids with mad-crazy super powers, there’s the mystery of where all the adults went. Most of all, there are children I can believe in and root for. This is great fiction.
If you want to quote any or all of that, be my guest. I love these books.
I don’t want to go all sincere on you people, but if you showed me starred reviews from everyone with a star to give, it wouldn’t mean as much to me as this does. Reviews are really great. But this is Stephen King.
If you get past my affinity for German cars, tasting menus, molecular cuisine and single malt whiskeys (ahem) I’m a blue collar guy. My father was Army. I had a decidedly lower middle class childhood. High School drop-out. College drop-out. I was a stock clerk, a house painter, an office cleaner, a resident manager of crappy apartment buildings. But mostly I was a waiter. For a decade.
When I waited tables I carried a bigger station than anyone else in a given restaurant and I worked more shifts. I worked every shift they’d let me have. I would carry eight tables — two regular stations — and do it 7 nights a week. I love work. Work gave meaning and structure to my life and even at my lowest, when I was a hopeless screw-up, when I was broke and (deservedly) friendless I still worked my ass off. At one point in my life I was sleeping under an overpass in Austin, Texas, with my busboy black-and-whites in a locker at the Trailways station and I still worked every shift.
There are a lot of good writers out there. There are other people who can write (almost) as well as Stephen King. But no one else is as good as he is and also as hard working. He doesn’t stop. He doesn’t let up. He doesn’t whine about writer’s block. He gets it done, and when he gets it done it kicks ass. He’s seven years older than I am, he’s been through addiction, and he got run over and almost killed for God’s sake, and he still outworks me. He carries that eight table station on a Saturday and he’s got everyone loving him at the end of the night.
If there’s one guy I want to be when I grow up (an event delayed by, oh, about 30 years so far,) it’s Stephen King. I’ve had some high points in writing: big checks, bestseller lists, fans, nice reviews. But this? This is really cool.