Thursday, February 5, 2009

I'm Not the Only One...Stephen King Thinks So Too!

Recently Nicole did a blog post about her general dislike for the Twilight series and it caused a minor raucous with some of her readers, but I'm hear to tell everyone that it's not just us!

Recently USA Weekend writer Lorrie Lynch did an interview with Stephen King for an American Icons story she was working on (the full King interview will be the cover story for the March 6-8 issue of USA Weekend). In the course of the interview they got into a discussion of popular authors vs. the academic elite, a subject he has strong opinions about, and she asked him if his mainstream success over the past 35 years paved the way for the massive careers of Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling and Twilight author Stephanie Meyer. King doesn't know how much of an influence he had on Meyer, but he does know that Rowling read his stuff when she was younger.

Here's what King said:
"I think that has some kind of formative influence the same way reading Richard Matheson had an influence on me," King explains. "People always say to me, 'Well, what about H.P. Lovecraft?' And the thing was, you read Lovecraft when you were a kid but I never felt that he was speaking my language. It was chillier than my heart was, and when Matheson started to write about ordinary people and stuff, that was something that I wanted to do. I said, 'This is the way to do it. He’s showing the way.' I think that I serve that purpose for some writers, and that’s a good thing. Both Rowling and Meyer, they’re speaking directly to young people. ... The real difference is that Jo Rowling is a terrific writer and Stephenie Meyer can’t write worth a darn. She’s not very good."

Thanks Stephen King for validating what others have said. It sure is different coming from a renowned writer than from an inexperienced blogger! BUT, all you Meyers fans out there keep reading, he went on to explain why he believes she has been successful and gives some valid points, with examples, of why her books have been a success...

Then King recalls that when his mom was alive, she read all the Erle Stanley Gardner books, the Perry Mason mysteries, obsessively when he was growing up. "He was a terrible writer, too, but he was very successful," King says. "Somebody who’s a terrific writer who’s been very, very successful is Jodi Picoult. You’ve got Dean Koontz, who can write like hell. And then sometimes he’s just awful. It varies. James Patterson is a terrible writer but he’s very very successful. People are attracted by the stories, by the pace and in the case of Stephenie Meyer, it’s very clear that she’s writing to a whole generation of girls and opening up kind of a safe joining of love and sex in those books. It’s exciting and it’s thrilling and it's not particularly threatening because they’re not overtly sexual. A lot of the physical side of it is conveyed in things like the vampire will touch her forearm or run a hand over skin, and she just flushes all hot and cold. And for girls, that’s a shorthand for all the feelings that they’re not ready to deal with yet."

So yeah Meyers "can't worth a darn" but girls still read it cause it's like a chick flick.

Now for the shout-out to my lovely wife. She has been working a substitute job in the High School district this week where she has lots of extra time, so she brought Twilight and has been reading a lot (something she doesn't do often). For example, she read 70 pages in one day! But all the same, she recognizes the same thing that King said: She can't write worth a darn! But Amanda likes the
story so she still gobbles it up. She just gets frustrated when there is a whole chapter of Bella and Edward (?) asking each other questions that are irrelevant to the story line. And I get to hear both sides from her, but mostly it's positive stuff about the story. Love you Amanda and I'm glad that you're reading

One thing Meyer's fans must realize is this: She sucks, but it's a great story concept that she came up with. I'll admit it's a great idea. But like many others, I too say that she needs some writing classes and a better editor.


Amanda said...

I have never been one to analyze the writing in the books I read so thank you for bringing up that aspect of it. When I say I like the Twilight series, it is definitely that I like the story aspect of it. Thanks for the post.

Heidi Maloy said...

Hahahahaha... Amen Amanda!

Scott H. said...

I would like to correct you it was well over a 100 pages i read. Thank you very much!!! love you

Erik said...

Look, speaking as somebody who has not, nor will ever, read Twilight, I still gotta say:

Which would you rather read: a book with a dull story written by somebody who writes like Koontz or a book with a phenomenal story written by somebody who writes like Meyers?

I gotta go with the good story every time.

Sure, english teachers out there (of which King is one) will tell you that you have to be embarrassed if you like a book with "bad" writing "only" because it has a good story, but seriously, the good story is the hard part. In a world as oversaturated with stories as ours is, telling one that the reader cares about--especially readers who don't normally care about stories in books--is amazing. And Twilight seems to be attracting both readers and non-readers alike.

So I say, we chuck the traditional, Stephen King definition of what's "good" writing, and come up with a new one: good writing is writing that the people reading it can care about.

If all these people care about it, that's enough for me to know she did something right.

I might be the target audience for it, but that doesn't mean I need to consider it "bad" fiction just to justify myself as having the "right" view of what's good fiction and bad fiction. And if the path Twilight puts them on leads them to the kind of fiction I like to read (or write), all the better.

That's how I see it.

Heidi Maloy said...

Erik, I thought your insights were fantastic and spot on. And it's true, while the writing drove me a little crazy- if someone can get me to devote an entire weekend(s) to a book- they've gotta be doing something right.

Jodi Jean said...

i never said the "writing" was good. i rather read ender any day ... but the story was good. i liked that it was a vampire book, but different than any (which i know bothers the heck out of you and the boys ... but i LOVED that ... and apparently so did tons of other women)

than being said, i don't think i would read it again ... too much time for bad writing. i'd rather read a great story with great writing.

i'm glad amanda is enjoying it though.