It’s the birthday of horror writer Stephen King (books by this author), born in Portland, Maine, on this date in 1947. When he was 10, he was at the local theater watching a matinee of Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, and the manager interrupted the film to announce that the Soviet Union had launched Sputnik. Stephen King says that for the first time, he saw “a useful connection between the world of fantasy and that of what My Weekly Reader used to call Current Events.” He decided that the main purpose of horror was “its ability to form a liaison between our fantasy fears and our real fears.” After coming upon an H.P. Lovecraft paperback in the attic, he decided to write horror stories himself.
Eventually, he took a job teaching high school, and that inspired him to write about a troubled and telekinetic teenage girl. But he decided his story was worthless and threw it out. His wife, Tabitha, took it out of the trash, read it, and thought it was promising. She told him to keep writing, so he did, and Carrie was published (1974). It didn’t get great reviews, but it went on to sell more than 4 million copies.