If anyone knows how to write about writers, it’s Stephen King. King, who created the terrible and terrifying Jack Torrance in The Shining and Paul Sheldon in Misery . . .
In Stephen King’s Lisey’s Story, Lisey’s writer-husband, Scott Landon, has been dead and buried for two years. Lisey, little Lisey, solidly has stood by her famous husband through all the book tours and campus speeches, happy to be relegated to one of his millions of admirers, even though she is the only one who really knows him. Lisey, stoic and calm, has finally taken to clearing his studio of his boxes of papers, drafts, and books. But the demons, both real and imaginary, that have haunted Scott during his life, have not died with him. Now they’re out for Lisey.
Let me stop there. King is known for his horror, but in my opinion this piece is stunning as King creates a monster you don’t ever really see. You sense its presence and its terror, but it never truly appears in its full form.
King admits Lisey’s Story is his favourite novel he’s written. Having read his other books, I can only guess at why this is. Maybe because it’s written from the other side of the writing desk. There must be some dose of his wife in this book and her position as the right-hand of one of the most famous authors of our time. Or maybe it’s because this book lives in the mind instead of in the “real world.”
If you want to read a book about an author’s mind at work–to experience some of the terror that must be deeply rooted in the mind of someone who can create something so wonderful, yet so horrific–study this one. Then ask yourself if those monsters don’t live in the heads of everyone, if they don’t peek out at us through reflections in windows, at dusk or in the deepest hours of the night. When we do catch a glimpse of them, best cover those mirrors and write; write like the demons are after you themselves.