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Pull back the curtain and see how a suspense writer puts the thrills and chills together.

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Dear Readers,

This question goes out to all of you…whether you consider yourself a writer or not. What book changed your life?

Is there a volume that you refer to again and again, until it’s dogeared?

For me, the answer to this question is easy. (As you might suspect, since I picked it.) Stephen King’s On Writing made a┬ásignificant difference in my life. I’ve been a huge fan of King’s since I first discovered a worn paperback copy of Different Seasons in the basement when I was a kid, but although I love his fiction, On Writing had an impact on me that a tall tale couldn’t hope to match.

For those of you unlucky enough to not have read this book, it’s a combination memoir/writing guide. I don’t think you have to be a writer to get a lot out of it, but it doesn’t hurt.

I first read On Writing when I was a freelance journalist. I was very busy with journalism clients, and I was doing some really cool stuff–covering the Pan Am games, traveling to Africa on the trip of a lifetime, interviewing Kiefer Sutherland. What I wasn’t doing, however, was writing fiction. No matter how successful I was as a journalist, I was always painfully aware that I was failing myself.

What On Writing did for me can be summed up simply: it got me writing for myself again. I’m not sure how, since I’d tried everything from writers’ groups to acquiring an editor, with no results. I’ve had some stops and starts along the way, but whenever I need inspiration, I can always get it from the dogeared pages of that wonderful book. I owe so much to Stephen King, and I thank him from the bottom of my heart for writing it.

How about you, dear readers? What book means the most?

If I get TWENTY comments, I’ll send one lucky random winner a copy of my personal bible, On Writing by Stephen King.

Happy weekend! TGIF!

Thanks for reading!
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5 Comments

  1. Susie Moloney

    I read Jaws surreptitiously one summer, at my Grandmother’s house when I was FAR too young to read it. It had everything: danger, sex, swearing, drinking, some pot smoking — it was like being at home, but without the yelling.

    I read it non-stop, in the tent in the backyard, in the bathtub, in bed with the flashlight, on the potty. I was mad for it. When I finished it, I read it all over again.

    I fell madly in love with books that week, and it was the beginning of poaching my mother/grandmother/grandfather’s book shelves for my reading material. I read Roots, The Exorcist, Five Smooth Stones, 79 Park Avenue, Once is Not Enough — all the crap that was written back in the day. But I STILL have a coy of Jaws on the shelf — probably my tenth — and I STILL read it once in awhile. It’s dated and I know it nearly by heart, but it can still evoke in my that remembered adoration of reading and inspire me to write. Truly, it’s a damn fine book.

    I probably became a writer because of Peter Benchley. I read everything he wrote after that, but nothing had as much impact, and the minute I take it down, I’m that little girl again, holding the flashlight under the covers until my hand was sweaty, my eyes were burning and all the streetlights were on outside.

    I think I’ll read it again this summer.

    Reply
  2. Vanessa

    I have a couple of books I could devour over and over. The one that made me LOVE reading was this collection of fairytales, activities and little poems called “My Big Book of Fairy Stories”. I think my mom found it in some large book bin at Zellers or Safeway. ROFL.

    Some of the stories were “similiar” to the fairytales I had heard like Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella (MY version was called “Bella and the Acorn Beads”) but there were so many that were just “different”.

    Two stories I’m sure my father became extremely tired of, but I kept demanding he read were “How flowers got their scent” and “Jorinda and Jorindel”.

    My copy of the book eventually fell apart, and I keep an eye out in used stores hoping some day I’ll have it again. ­čÖé

    Reply
  3. claudineg

    I’ve had relationships with books similar to the relationships I’ve had with people in my life.
    Some were the right book at the right time – a beach book that’s the perfect summer fling! Others I should have given up on, but kept going, hoping for a happy resolution that never arrived.
    And then there are the books that are like family: you’ve known them forever and return to them like a Sunday dinner at Grandma’s house.
    Louise Erdrich’s landscapes feel like home to me. David Sedaris is the friend who always makes me laugh, and Charlaine Harris offers a view into a world where vampires and werewolves make it with small-town telepathic waitresses. (I’ve never met anyone quite like Sookie, but that’s not to say it won’t happen one day!)
    Entertainment, comfort, joy and heartbreak… right there in the pages of a book.

    Reply
  4. Elspeth Cross

    I have two sets of books that changed my perception on writing. When I was a kid, I inhaled “Bobbsey Twins” and “Nancy Drew” but it wasn’t until I started reading the “Trixie Belden” series that I realized that somebody wrote them. Somebody invented Trixie and her friends and their adventures and wrote them down and sold them. I wanted to be like that wonderful, exciting person.

    The second series I’m not going to name. Suffice to say, those were the books which, when I read them, caused me to yell, “I can do better than that!” And since then I’ve been trying to.

    Reply
  5. Warren

    My Jr. High had a program that set out the first 10 min of every class for reading and my first real novel was Of Mice and Men, I thought the writing was so descriptive I really had the feeling of experiencing the story rather than just reading it. Since then I have always had a book going.

    Reply

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