Tag Archives: Stephen King

Write the Book

“Everybody does have a book in them, but in most cases that’s where it should stay.” ~ Christopher Hitchens

There’s an old adage that suggests that every person has at least one book ‘in them’. I don’t know if this is true but I often think about whether or not I might be someone who does. My gut tells me no, absolutely not, that the fiction I love to read is way beyond me. I like dark and intricate plots – and I know I’d never have the attention to detail required to produce anything in this league. I struggle with timelines at the best of times (everything was the other day to me, even 1996) but I can’t imagine skilfully being able to foreshadow or call back to the exact moment a character turned from ordinary person to arch nemesis of the world.

For as long as I can remember my mother has been on at me to just “Write the book”. I believe I can write competently, it isn’t that I doubt that – I just don’t know if I have that something extra that she thinks I have. Writers are the most extraordinary people in the world to me. Take Stephen King, the man who wakes up every morning and writes a set number of words (1000) no matter what. Come rain or shine he throws his words on the page and something usually sticks. The man has produced some of the most memorable horror characters of all time. He’s built worlds that might look just like ours but are actually more horrible/magical/strange that we could ever imagine. Whether you’re a fan or not, this commitment is incredible – and it seems healthy and cathartic to me too. Perhaps I should try it, just open a Word doc every day and GO.

But if fiction is out of the question, then what? I haven’t enough true story in me for a memoir (I know that’s never stopped a lot of people) plus I’m way too young (LOL). Self help seems like a bit of cheek – who am I to believe I have wisdom to share with the world? This morning I had a Cadbury’s Crème egg for breakfast because “I’m ill”. I know about love, heartache and grief but so do most people. What on earth is my USP?

This is one of the million dollar questions that keeps me awake at night – what was I put on this earth to do, really? Perhaps that’s my pitch: ordinary 40 year old woman goes out into society to figure out her true purpose? Hey it could work. Failing that I’ll just whip up a book of my favourite filthy jokes, none of which are suitable for this blog post.

Happy Wednesday all!

UPDATE: I wrote this for my work blog and thought I’d share it here too.

Weekly Digest – TV Special

Yes, I watch a lot of television, what of it? There’s so much good stuff at the moment, how can I not be regularly getting my fix, it would be rude. Plus, I hate to miss out.

Here’s what I’ve been watching…

The Handmaid’s Tale – Season 1

I know, I know – I am criminally behind on this fantastic show but better late then never, right? My friend Helen has been vocal about her love for the show ever since I met her and thankfully, I have finally been able to set aside some time to rinse the first series. (And then text her at every available opportunity to report my thoughts).

Hello June Osborne! For the uninitiated, the IMDB synopsis:

Set in a dystopian future, a woman is forced to live as a concubine under a fundamentalist theocratic dictatorship.

Elisabeth Moss plays our titular handmaid, currently living with Fred and Serena Joy Waterford, otherwise known as The Commander and wife (Joseph Fiennes and Yvonne Strahovski). There’s a revolution going on behind closed doors but on the surface, women no longer have any power, whatever their social standing – and it’s an incredibly difficult and though-provoking watch.

I’m not going into it too much because I’m only on episode 6 as we speak, and so much has happened. So many shocking and tragic things, and I need to sit with my thoughts for a while. But it is excellent, truly powerful and wonderfully crafted. The cinematography is mind blowing, with such subtle symbolism in even the smallest detail.

And the performances, well they’re all top notch but with stand-outs from Moss, Strahovski, Hereditary’s Ann Dowd, Alexis Bledel and beautiful Samira Wiley. No one character is truly good, nor truly bad – just human and trying to survive. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

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Sharp Objects

A reporter confronts the psychological demons from her past when she returns to her hometown to cover a violent murder.

The HBO adaptation of Gillian Flynn‘s INCREDIBLE novel. I’ve been waiting for this for so long and it is fantastic of course, with really quite brilliant casting, in the form of Amy Adams and Patricia Clarkson – and it’s made me revisit the book again, which I’m reading in tandem.

Exploring the topics of grief, motherly love, self-harm and mental illness, it’s a brutal but compelling tale of small-town mystery and I am loving every minute, frankly.

Sharp Objects’ central voice, Camille Preaker is a flawed heroine with many mental (and yes, physical) scars and even when she’s not pleasant (which is a lot), you’re on her side. Something Flynn does is write great flawed female characters and she does it damn well (maybe better than anyone).

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Castle Rock

Based on the stories of Stephen King, the series will intertwine characters and themes from the fictional town of Castle Rock.

This is another show I’ve been looking forward to ever since it was announced but I have to say, although the first two episodes opened well (if a little slow), I’m starting to struggle.

I will try to see it through though because there are elements I’m enjoying, not least all the references to some of my favourite Stephen King novels (SK also holds writer credits on the show).

PLUS, it boasts not one but two of my favourite actresses, I Don’t Feel At Home in This World Anymore alumni, Melanie Lynskey and Jane Levy. Also It’s Bill Skarsgård and Moonlight’s André Holland. With a cast like that it can’t be rubbish, can it?

I guess only time with tell…

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And a special mention to this next one, which I’ve been going through the motions with for the last few seasons (the last one of which I can barely recall that much about) – but JUST GOT GOOD AGAIN!

*Spoilers for past seasons*

Orange is the New Black – Season 6

I genuinely feel sometimes that I will never forgive the OITNB makers for the way they played Poussey (who I’m currently watching as Moira in The Handmaid’s Tale, above). And although the last, mostly forgettable series used her death as the catalyst for the prison riot and a larger conversation about the treatment of prisoners within the system, it wasn’t quite as impactful as I’d have liked. I’m not even sure why because looking back there was a lot of action.

Certain characters are always great – looking at you Taystee (Danielle Brooks), Nicky Nichols (Natasha Lyonne) and Red (Kate Mulgrew) but then there are others that are criminally underused. Looking at you Dyanara (Dascha Polanco) and Sophia (Laverne Cox) (IMHO) and I guess it must be hard to give all characters the airtime they deserve but my god can we move away from boring Piper Chapman (admittedly always going to be central since the series is based on her memoirs). But still.

This season, however introduces two great new characters, sisters from Hell Carol and Barb who each run their own wing. While their story is dark as shit, there is joy to be had in two such deliciously bad and bitter rivals as they dominate their environments and promote bloody, petty violence.

*Spoilers*

Stand out strands for me are Taystee’s trial (with devastating results) and the kick ball head to head – while I’ve still got nothing but love for Gloria, Blanca and Suzanne (Uzo Aduba). Can we also give Laura Prepon‘s Vause more to do – because she could be GREAT.

Oh, and Daddy (Vicci Martinez) is very cute indeed.

Orange Is the New Black

What are you watching?

Girl Gang: Stephen King Character Edition

Inspired as always by the brilliant Meghan Lightle and her Avengers Girl Gang, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the mighty female characters of Stephen King’s books. While some of his books are decidedly female-ccentric, it isn’t always the girls that get the glory. I’m here to round them up for my own personal girl gang needs.

Beverly Marsh

“I’m not afraid of you!”

Our Bev is a fighter and no mistake. A victim of childhood abuse at the hands of her father, she grows up to fulfill her creative dreams but still has to deal with the weak bullshit of men throughout her life. The only girl in the Losers Club, I feel like Bev could do with some girl power in her life, not that there’s anything wrong with the dynamic of that original squad (icky adolescent orgy aside).

Bev isn’t afraid to get stuck in when it comes to bullies nor stick up for what is right at all costs, and these are qualities you need in a friendship circle. Plus, she’s a ginger like me (in the book and most recent adaptation).

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Timothy Hutton and Amy Madigan (as Elizabeth Beaumont) in George A. Romero‘s The Dark Half (1993)

Elizabeth Beaumont

In The Dark Half, Elizabeth is a plucky and resourceful character who has to deal with an awful lot of upheaval when her author husband Thaddeus takes on his supernatural killer twin, George Stark. Stark is best described as other-wordly and not altogether human, born of the page created by Thad himself. When she finds herself caught in all the drama of Stark’s ‘birth’ (read the book), Elizabeth remains level-headed and pragmatic. She’s a mother lion ferociously protecting her twin cubs (twins run the family, what can I say) and she doesn’t suffer fools.

In all of Thad’s scenes I wanted to read more about Elizabeth, who deserves more than just a supporting role. More female central protagonists please, Mr King!

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Chloë Grace Moretz (2013) ~ Carrie cover ~ Sissy Spacek (1976)

Carrie White

“It was time to teach them All a lesson, time to show them… a thing or two!”

Okay, so Carrie is a little bit freaky deaky but she’s a talented telekinetic and how fun would that be? You could have her tip cups of coffee over mansplainers all day long with no come back.

Plus, how much did Carrie just need a damn good friend to stand beside her and say, You’re fine babe just as you are and these high school days, they mean nothing in the end? I’d take her under my wing and I’d just have to be sure I never upset her.

(Admittedly, the movie version of Carrie White seemed a little fluffier than the book version).

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Shelley Duvall (1980) ~ Rebecca De Mornay (1997) ~ Wendy Torrance fan art

Wendy Torrance

Mrs T is slightly irritating but she’s also a damn survivor and that makes her okay in my book. She’s quick to pick fault in her husband Jack but to be fair he’s not the nicest dude (in the book more so – he breaks his son’s arm even before he goes insane in The Overlook).

I think we’d get on because I know what it’s like to be in a relationship that has you walking on eggshells (past, don’t worry) and I kind of dig her kooky wardrobe. She seems like fun when she’s not stressed out.

Who’s in your gang?

UPDATE: A friend on Twitter pointed out that she’d choose Rose Madder and Dolores Claiborne for not putting up with any shit from men and I realised I’d forgotten to add Rose to my list.

Dolores I’m sure is a worthy contender but I haven’t read her story yet, and can barely remember the film. So shout out to these two women who are welcome to join the gang anytime! 

Ready Player One

Ready Player One (2018)

Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Tye SheridanOlivia CookeBen MendelsohnLena WaitheT.J. MillerMark RylanceSimon Pegg

IMDB Synopsis

When the creator of a virtual reality world called the OASIS dies, he releases a video in which he challenges all OASIS users to find his Easter Egg, which will give the finder his fortune.

*Minor spoilers*

Oh my Lord. It’s always disconcerting when you go into a movie whispering the mantra, “Please be good. Please be good.” To say I went into the theater with high expectations would be an understatement, especially since I loved the book and have pressed it into the sweaty hand of many a friend.

Luckily for me, the adaptation was handed to the perfect director for the project and, with Ernest Cline on-board for screenwriting duties, I was left more than impressed. At one point I nearly lost my shit, it was so perfect and so relevant to my personal interests.

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Spielberg has the nostalgia thing down pat at the best of times but with the OASIS at his fingertips, he has the freedom to let loose on the popular culture references. There’s no limit to what he can do and it’s so multi-layered, so awe-inspiring I defy anyone not to come away with a new respect for what special effects can do.

I’m wary of giving too much of the game away in this review but what I can say is that, through Wade Watts and his avatar Parzival (Sheridan), we learn all about the OASIS and what it really means to the inhabitants of a now desolate world in 2045. While things IRL aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, OASIS’ creator James Halliday has just passed away, leaving a legacy that has the potential to change Wade and his friends’ lives forever.

Wade’s crew is small but perfectly formed and grows stronger still when they team up with Parzival’s crush, the elusive Art3mis (Cooke). But with super villain Sorrento (Mendelsohn) hot on their tail and determined to solve Halliday’s riddles and win control of OASIS for himself, they’re really up against it.

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Man, I have a couple of favourite scenes that I just want to gush about but I can’t, let’s just say as a classic horror fan, I was moved almost to tears by one extended segment and if you’ve seen RPO you’ll know which one I mean.

While the romantic aspect of the story I could take or leave, everything else about it was appealing and exactly what I wanted from this adaptation. Fans of the book might notice a few differences but there’s nothing too jarring and the visual references pad it out perfectly.

I hope you enjoy it too.

My Rating

5/5.

 

 

Weekly Digest

This week I am loving:

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The Fall

I’m very late to this party but I’ve become obsessed. I’ve done the first two seasons already this weekend. Could being able to rinse an extraordinary amount of television within a tiny window of time be considered a super power?

In The Fall, a strangler is terrorising Belfast with his sadistic woman-murdering ways. He has a very particular type too, so dark-haired, beautiful professional women beware. Hot on the heels of this monster, thankfully is Gillian Anderson‘s Stella Gibson, MET officer and all-round badass – so he better fucking watch himself.

There’s little mystery here, from the start you know whodunnit but as it unravels we learn more about the psyche of the man behind the killer – and it’s a compelling watch. PHEW-EE.

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Stella Gibson from The Fall

A shout out to the character of Stella Gibson as mentioned above for her cool demeanor – and her chic-as-shit wardrobe. Stella is fighting the good fight for the victims of the Belfast Strangler and I enjoy her very much. She doesn’t seem frightened of anything in the heat of the moment but she’s a deep and interesting character.

I really enjoy Stella’s confidence, attitude towards the Patriachy and her chemistry with both PC Danielle Ferrington and pathologist Reed Smith.  Who run the world?

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Pet Sematary – Film & Book

My god I love this book. I’ve recently finished it and can honestly say it’s one of my favourites so far. While I was expecting it to be super trashy, I was actually greeted by a sad lament on grief and loss – by way of an abandoned Indian burial ground, of course.

Nobody can spin a yarn the way Uncle Stephen can and I’m still firmly in love with his mind. Who knows what I’ll find next?

As for the 1989 film adaptation, well it is what it is. And what it is, is: AWESOME.

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This Week’s Graffiti

Just a few of my favourite bits of graffiti/street art from this week. Brighton is great.

What are you digging this week?

Misery (Book) Review

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“She can’t be dead, MISERY CHASTAIN CANNOT BE DEAD!” ~ Annie Wilkes

The latest in my long overdue Stephen King Odyssey and one of the best so far.

When I shared that I was reading this on social media, some of my friends popped up to say how brilliant it is, even in comparison to the film – and they weren’t wrong. The adaptation is great and although it’s been a while since I saw it, I don’t remember it being as tense as the book. I guess your imagination will do that to you and it must be hard to capture the inner workings of a trapped man’s mind on film (even if the film is still terrifying, don’t get me wrong).

Misery is, of course, the story of how famous novelist Paul Sheldon comes to live in the home of ex-nurse Annie Wilkes, seriously injured and against his will.

Following a nasty car accident one snowy night in Colorado, Paul is rescued from the wreckage and dragged back to Annie’s where she nurses him back to consciousness. While there is nothing conventional about this set up, Annie’s former career affords her the skill to keep Paul alive and his pain (mostly) at bay.

Though Paul distrusts spooky Annie from the get-go, he reluctantly becomes dependent on her particular brand of health care, not to mention the very strong medication she has been plying him with. Did I mention that our very own Ms. Nightingale is also Paul’s “Number one fan”? What a coincidence, eh?

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Nobody needs me to give away the rest of the story, since it’s a tale as old as time and if you haven’t read it, you totally should.

But Paul’s most famous fictional character, the titular Misery has just been killed off in his last novel.He’s keen to move onto new projects and put Misery to bed for good but when Annie finds out, she goes ape.

There’s only one thing for it as far as she’s concerned, and that’s to bring Misery back to life… I’ll leave the rest up to you.

I loved this book because it completely engulfs you, putting you in Paul’s shoes. Things could not be worse for him either. Not only is he a disabled prisoner aware of the expiry date above his head, he’s also being systematically tortured by the person who’s supposed to care for him. His only bargaining chip is his mind.

My only issue with the book is that I pictured James Caan as Paul Sheldon throughout and that was hard to shift. Further proof I let myself down as an adolescent by not reading more SK before watching the films.

Book details:

Misery
Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks (7 July 2011)
ISBN-10: 1444720716
ISBN-13: 978-1444720716
Bought paperback (new)

What are you currently reading?

The King & I

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I didn’t grow up with Stephen King, which seems odd to me now. I liked horror alright but I just never got around to plundering SK’s catalogue. In place of his classics I was all over Judy Bloom, Jilly Cooper and Jackie Collins.

I guess I was a precocious kid in my reading tastes, I like the feeling of being more adult than my years, even if I didn’t understand most of it. I loved Dean Koontz too and the Sweet Valley High series (you can decide which is scarier).

In some ways I’m sad I don’t share the same nostalgic feelings my loved ones have for his stories but I’m in the happy position of having an awful lot of material to work through now. In the last few years I’ve done: The Shining and Doctor Sleep. Needful Things and Rose Madder.

More recently, the mammoth IT and Carrie. Next on my list is Mr. Mercedes. I’ve also got On Writing waiting for me on the shelf. It’s safe to say then that, along with the rest of the world who can’t get enough of his adaptations this year, I am very much into The King.

His books aren’t without criticism and he has written characters unflatteringly, AKA fat. See Carrie, her mother Mrs White, one of the kids’ mums in IT – more. Fat isn’t a problem as a descriptor obviously but there’s a way to do it. As I read more of his books I’m sure I will uncover more comments of this nature.

So King can be problematic (certainly for the fatphobia) but I love him. He’s such a compelling writer who taps into something deeper. Yes, it’s part nostalgia for the children we were, sometimes it’s guilt, hope, terror – magic. I don’t know if you can pinpoint exactly what it is about Stephen, all I know is that is one of the most satisfying relationships I’ve ever known. He’s part of me now and I’m so happy to have found him.

Which Stephen King stories are your favourite? 🎃🍂👻🍁🔪