Stephen King has written more than 50 novels and almost 200 short stories and, yet, the guy never seems to run out of ideas! From a shape shifting clown, to a demonic car with a murderous mind of its own, Stephen King always seems to have something new up his sleeve, so where does Stephen King get his inspiration from?
The question of where do authors like Stephen King get their ideas from is a question that will have frustrated many aspiring writers because, even if you can write engaging and entertaining words, you can plan out a plot, and you can develop interesting characters, if you can’t think up an original idea for a story, then you are just going to be stuck with a non-starter.
Stephen King says that he gets his ideas for his books from, as he puts it, everywhere. He can see just one or two random things and that can form the basis of the inspiration for a new Stephen King novel or short story. He then looks at how those things might be looked at in a new and weird way and then he asks the all-important question of “What if?”
It transpires, then, that many of the ideas for Stephen King’s books came from tiny sparks that he then developed into a full blown yarn; simple observations or ideas that he was then able to build on.
So, if you have ever wondered where Stephen King got the idea for Pennywise the Clown, or what sparked Stephen King’s inspiration for some of his most famous books; here’s the tiny sparks that set the creative ball rolling for some of the best known Stephen King books.
Christine Was Inspired by the Odometer on King's Car
The inspiration for Stephen King’s Christine was a really simple one, but it really does demonstrate how even the smallest of thing can spark the imagination of Stephen King. The event that gave Stephen King the initial idea for Christine was his car odometer clicking over from 9999.9 to 10,000. That set him thinking about how a car might get younger if the odometer ran backward. He began writing what he thought would be short story based on that idea, but the story quickly developed into the Christine novel that we know today.
Carrie Was Inspired by Two Girls That Stephen King Knew at School
Stephen King got his idea for Carrie from his experience of two girls he met at high school, plus a bit of the story of Samson from the bible. A composite of the two girls was what Stephen King used to create the character of Carrie, and the biblical story of Samson bringing down the temple walls gave King the inspiration for Carrie’s final act of revenge on her classmates. Overall, the story is about how women can find their own inner powers and how men fear women’s sexuality.
It Was Inspired by a Walk across a Bridge
With the recent release of the new Stephen King’s It movie, many people will be wondering where Stephen King got the idea for Pennywise the Clown and the answer is that it was another everyday occurrence that served as the inspiration for Stephen King’s It. The idea for It began when King was walking across a wooden bridge and was reminded of the fairy tale called "The Three Billy-Goats Gruff", which made him want to write a book about a troll under a bridge. It took several years for all the ideas for It to come together in Stephen King’s mind, but eventually the bridge became the town of Derry, the troll became Pennywise, and Stephen King’s It was born.
The Stand Was Inspired by Biological Warfare Tests on Mice
Stephen King had long wanted to write a book along the lines of Lord of the Rings in a modern, American setting, but he couldn’t find a way to make it work. It was a TV documentary that showed mice being used in chemical and biological weapons tests that triggered Stephen King’s initial ideas for The Stand. He then remembered about a chemical spill in Utah that had killed some sheep and a reporter who had said that if the wind had been blowing the other way it would have been Salt Lake City that had been affected by the chemicals. From those early inspirations, plus his desire to write a book like Lord of the Rings, The Stand became a fantasy epic set in a USA that had been decimated by man-made plague, complete with an unlikely band of heroes and supernatural, dark villain called Randolph Flagg.
‘Salem’s Lot Was Inspired by Bram Stoker’s Dracula and a Class of High School Kids
When Stephen King was a high school teacher, he taught a class of students Bram Stoker’s Dracula and he was surprised at how well his students took the book and what a vibrant a story it remained. Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot is a story about a town in Maine, where many of the townsfolk have been turned into vampires, so it will be no surprise to find out the Stephen King’s inspiration for ‘Salem’s Lot was Bram Stoker’s Dracula. King asked his wife Tabitha what would happen if Count Dracula turned up in twentieth century America, to which she replied that he’d probably get run over by a yellow cab. That’s when King decided that his vampire story would have to be set in the sleepy Maine town of ‘Salem’s Lot, and not in New York.
Pet Sematary Was Inspired by the Death a Pet Cat on Busy Road
Stephen King’s Pet Sematary is a story of how a family brings their pet cat back to life through the magical powers of an ancient pet cemetery that lies deep in the woods nearby to their home and how they are then tempted into do the same thing with their own son, who dies in a road accident. The inspiration for Pet Sematary came, again, from an everyday family event, when the King’s own family pet died. At that time, Stephen King and his family were living in a town in Maine where there was a busy truck route on which many local animals were killed. The animal deaths were so frequent that the local kids had set up a pet cemetery in the nearby woods. Faced with having to tell his daughter that the cat had died on the busy road, King began to wonder what it would be like if he could bring the cat back to life by placing it in the pet cemetery. When his son Owen also had a close shave with a truck on the same highway, King expanded his original idea to what would happen if he did the same thing with a human being. Once again, the idea for Pet Sematary all began with a simple event, to which Stephen King then added his own special brand of; What if?
Misery Was Inspired by Fans’ Reaction to the Eyes of the Dragon
Stephen King was inspired to write Misery by the negative reaction of Stephan King fans to his fantasy novel The Eyes of the Dragon. Feeling that he was trapped by his fans into writing nothing but horror nobles, King wrote Misery, which is a story of an author who is held captive by a manic fan after he has a car accident. Just like Stephen King fans did not want Stephen King to write anything but horror novels, Misery’s Annie Wilkes doesn’t like what author Paul Sheldon has written in his latest book, so she forces him to write a new book the way that she thinks it should be written. King has also said that he drew on his own feelings of being trapped by the alcohol and drug addiction that he had been battling around the time that he wrote Misery.
Cell Was Inspired by a Man Talking to Himself
Stephen King’s Cell is another example how everyday events can spark the imagination of the author. Cell tells the story of a father trying to find his son in a world where most of the population has been turned into violent zombie like creatures by a weird broadcast that was made over the cell phone network. Stephen King’s inspiration for Cell came when the author saw a man apparently talking to himself. King was slightly nervous of the man, until he realised that the guy was talking on his phone, but King’s apprehension about the man made him think more about the potential ramifications of being so tied into technology. All Stephen King had to do then to complete his ideas for Cell was to ask his favourite question again; what if?