|Born in 1947, Stephen King has become a household name all over the world. His mother raised him and his brother after their father deserted the family in 1950. In high school, King began to write short stories, his first published work appearing in 1968. He attended the University of Maine, graduating with a B.S. in 1970. Up until his first novel appeared, King had worked in an industrial laundry, as a janitor, as well as an English teacher. CARRIE, his debut, was met by a largely indifferent public in 1974. It wasn't until two years later, after King's second novel 'SALEM'S LOT and the filmed version of CARRIE, that King became a major player in the horror field. THE SHINING, his 1977 haunted hotel novel, began a litany of bestsellers, including THE STAND, THE DEAD ZONE, PET SEMETARY, DOLORES CLAIBORNE, and many others. King's work is regarded as instrumental in bringing about a resurgence of interest in horror fiction in the 1970s and '80s. An extremely high percentage of King's voluminous literary output has been filmed, with varying degrees of success, but all serving to carry the name of Stephen King far and wide. He has written nonfiction, given lectures, acted in films, and continues to produce huge novels nearly every year, all of which become instant bestsellers. As an bizarre sidenote, during the summer of 1999 while walking along a back road in Maine, King was struck and seriously injured by a minivan whose driver apparently lost control of the vehicle while being distracted by his dog--thus creating exactly the kind of news item that might have inspired several of King's own novels.
|The events of Peter Straub's childhood--including teaching himself to read in kindergarten, being involved in a car accident in first grade that left him in a wheelchair for a time, and developing a stutter that lasted until his 20s--conspired to give him something of a dislike for school. So after graduating with an M.A. from Columbia University in 1966, he did what anyone in a similar situation would have done: He became an English teacher at the very school he attended in Milwaukee. In 1969 he moved with his wife to Dublin, Ireland, to study for a Ph.D. There he began to write poetry, publishing two collections prior to his first novel, MARRIAGES, in 1973. Now living in London, Straub's work began to take a turn toward horror with JULIA and IF YOU COULD SEE ME NOW--both about malevolent ghosts. But Straub didn't really hit the big time until 1979's GHOST STORY--about a group of elderly men whose regular ghost story-telling sessions become the target of a ghostly revenge--became a huge bestseller. The film version, made in 1981, featured among its extraordinary cast Fred Astaire (who was 82) and Melvyn Douglas (who was 80) in their last roles, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. (at 72) in his penultimate role, and John Houseman (who was 79). After the success of GHOST STORY, Straub wrote SHADOW LAND and FLOATING DRAGON, before his 1984 collaboration with Stephen King, THE TALISMAN. After this, Straub began to slowly move away from the fantastic, all the while remaining a bestselling author. KOKO, the first book in a trilogy, was about a group of Vietnam vets hunting a killer. Like MYSTERY and THE THROAT--the other books in the trilogy--it focused more on mystery and detective themes, retaining only the barest of horror elements. With 1996's HELLFIRE CLUB, Straub finally jettisoned horror altogether, focusing on the complex relationship between an escaped psychopathic killer and his hostage. Averaging one book every three years or so, Straub is not the most prolific of authors, but, perhaps because of this, he is one of the most critically well-regarded best-selling genre writers.