Stephen King | New England’s Gifts

Stephen King reminisces about the publication of his first book, “Carrie.” Excerpt from “The Man Who Writes Nightmares,” Yankee Magazine, March 1979.

By Yankee Magazine

Oct 18 2015

Stephen King
Stephen King, The Storyteller From Maine
Stephen King, The Storyteller From Maine
Photo Credit : François Sechet/Leemage/Corbis/AP Images

When I started Carrie, I had finished my first year of teaching. I was working in summer at the laundry to try and make ends meet. I started writing, but after four pages thought it stank and threw it in the rubbish. I came home and found my wife, Tabby, had taken them out and had left a note: ‘Please keep going—it’s good.’ Since she’s really stingy with her praise, I did.

“When I finished it, I sent it off to Doubleday. We were having a really tough time. We had two small children. Our phone had been taken out. When the telegram came saying it was accepted with a $2,500 advance,Tabby had to call me at school from across the street. I was in the middle of a teachers’ meeting and was on pins and needles waiting to get home and hug her. Later my agent told me the paperback rights were bought for $400,000. I said, ‘You mean $40,000.’ He said, ‘No, I mean $400,000,’ and I realized I wouldn’t have to teach anymore.

“My mother was dying then, but she knew everything was going to be all right. She was old-fashioned about Carrie; she didn’t like the sex parts. But she recognized that a lot of Carrie had to do with bullying. If there’s a moral in the book it’s: Don’t mess around with people. You never know whom you may be tangling with. Ah, if my mother had lived, she’d have been the Queen of Durham, Maine, by now.”-

—Excerpt from “The Man Who Writes Nightmares,” Yankee Magazine, March 1979