One man's trash: Stephen King on the real Carrie

I'm sitting here clearing my email as Gary mindlessly clicks. I love the man to pieces and want to be near him; sadly, the price for hanging out with him on Sunday morning is being willing to simultaneously watch 35 different TV programs in an endless parade of 4 second increments. But even Gary had to stop on the final scenes of Brian de Palma's hemoglobin-soaked rendition of Stephen King's Carrie.

I love the backstory on the book: King was unable to place his first three novels with a publisher, but had done some short stories. King says, "I got an idea for a story about this incident in a girls' shower room, and the girl would be telekinetic. The other girls would pelt her with sanitary napkins when she got her period. The period would release the right hormones and she would rain down destruction on them." But three pages into the story, King decided he hated it and threw it away. His wife Tabitha rescued the acorn of a manuscript and encouraged him to expand the idea to a novel. (The dedication reads "This is for Tabby, who got me into it - and then bailed me out of it.")

In a Twilight Zone Magazine interview, King told Charles L. Grant that the character was partly inspired by a girl he knew in school:
"She was a very peculiar girl who came from a very peculiar family. Her mother wasn't a religious nut like the mother in Carrie; she was a game nut, a sweepstakes nut who subscribed to magazines for people who entered contests . . . The girl had one change of clothes for the entire school year, and all the other kids made fun of her. I have a very clear memory of the day she came to school with a new outfit she'd bought herself. She was a plain-looking country girl, but she'd changed the black skirt and white blouse--which was all anybody had every seen her in--for a bright-colored checkered blouse with puffed sleeves and a skirt that was fashionable at the time. And everybody made worse fun of her because nobody wanted to see her change the mold."

(A dynamic that persists in the publishing industry for sure.)

King was in such sad financial straights, making less than $7K per year as a teacher, the phone in his trailer house had been shut off, so he got the news about his first book deal via a telegram from his editor at Doubleday: CARRIE OFFICIALLY A DOUBLEDAY BOOK. $2,500 ADVANCE AGAINST ROYALTIES. CONGRATS, KID - THE FUTURE LIES AHEAD, BILL. New American Library later bought the paperback rights for $400,000, which enabled King to quit his day job.

Comments

Thanks for sharing this. Poignant story about the poor girl. I'm afraid there's one in every school. :(

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