Stephen King wrote ‘Inflammatory Gaze’ while sitting in a pool of blood

Published by
Peter Kavinsky

The king of horror loves books. And write and draw.


Stephen King’s childhood was rather unhappy: his father left them with his mother and brother (only once left the house and did not return) when Stephen was two years old, then the family had to live in poverty. The mother told the boy that the Martians had kidnapped his father. He was afraid that one day they (or someone else) would also kidnap his mother. There were more and more fears: either he suddenly, against his will, imagined his mother lying in a coffin, then he himself hung on a gallows with his eyes pecked out by birds. He was afraid of many things – and fears haunt him all his life.

Baker’s dozen

Well, for example the simplest: the fear of the number 13. “Oh, this number never gets tired of running its old icy finger up and down my spine! When I write, I never stop working when I’m on the thirteenth page or on a page whose number is divisible by 13 – I keep typing until I get to a page with a lucky number … And when I read I do that doesn’t stop at pages 94, 193 or 382 because in total they give the number 13. And when I go up the stairs of 13 steps, I immediately step over the two at the top to get 12. After all, there were 13 steps on the stairs to the jetty in England until the twentieth century.

Another phobia was clowns. It is known that many people are afraid of them: in clown makeup, a human face appears greatly distorted, and for many it seems not funny, but disturbing, almost unconsciously “wrong”, frightening. It’s called coulrophobia and nothing has spread it more widely in society than King’s novel It. He later had to speak out in public several times in support of real, non-hell clowns, especially those who work in hospitals with young children. Although King clarified that if he was a sick child and a clown approached him in the ward, he would not be comforted, but terrified.


It’s no secret that King was a real, complete alcohol and drug addict in the 70s and 80s. Beer (which he drank in supernatural amounts) was supposed to calm his many neuroses and phobias, including this: “What if I can’t write anymore?” (He wrote his first books while drunk and was afraid he wouldn’t be able to do it without beer.) He was also actively using cocaine as a stimulant. And he sniffed it so much that the blood dripped from his nose directly onto the typewriter while writing a new novel.

He wrote the story “Kujo” quite quickly, sent the manuscript to the publisher and then, after sleeping a little, he could hardly remember a word of the text. (“I say this without pride or shame, only with a vague sense of sadness and the loss of something valuable”). The same goes for the Tommyknockers and a few other things. While filming Maximum Acceleration (the only one he made as a director), he used not only cocaine and pills, but also mouthwash because it contained alcohol, and was sober for an average of three hours a day; not surprisingly, the result was monstrous.

In the end, the woman couldn’t stand it. She found her husband again asleep in a pool of vomit next to the desk, searched the house, collected all the bags of powder traces and beer cans in the trash, and when King woke up, she presented him with the contents and delivered an ultimatum: “Either me, or the” . Then King stopped. And for a long time he couldn’t write a word – he really couldn’t work without stimulants. Only after some time the writer’s block was overcome.

In general, King is hard to get off work when he gets inspiration. At the end of the 1970s he decided, already a father of several children, that he did not want to father any more children. And he did a vasectomy – a simple surgical procedure that guarantees infertility. I returned home, sat down at the typewriter and started writing “Inflaming Eyes.” The woman who came home saw that he was sitting on a chair in a pool of blood: the seam had torn after the operation. Then the woman recalled, “Anyone in his place would have yelled, and he said, ‘Wait, let me finish the paragraph.


How Kubrick Ruined The Shining

The free treatment of the text of the novel infuriated the author. But years later, the cinema ceased to disgust him. Photo: Frame from the movie

Stephen King is one of the most filmed authors in the world. However, only one film based on his book became a real blockbuster – “It”, which was released in 2017 and grossed nearly $702 million at the box office (“It-2”, released two years later, was also incredibly successful, but collected “only” $473 million). On the other hand, The Shawshank Redemption has been number one on IMDb’s list of the greatest movies of all time for years. Among the best film adaptations of King, critics unanimously call “Stay with me” (according to the story “The Body” – King himself is also happy with this picture), “Misery”, “Carrie”, “The Green Mile”. And of course, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is considered a masterpiece. King has something against this.

For him, The Shining is a semi-autobiographical novel: he once decided to go to an abandoned hotel with his family to write a new book, and it turned out that the abandoned building looked extraordinarily sinister. He has transferred many of the impressions of this sabbatical to the novel. Even the fact that the hero tries to kill his little boy is taken from reality. No, King wasn’t trying to kill his child, but he sometimes had sudden, painful thoughts about hurting him (they most likely fall under the same department as the writer’s obsessive fears and other mistakes).

Kubrick removed many key motifs for King from the film. In addition, the writer did not like the fact that Jack Nicholson was chosen for the main role – it seemed that this actor immediately showed that his hero would eventually go crazy, that it was necessary to take someone calmer, “just” and a smooth tone to show transition from normal state to madness. He didn’t like the actress Shelley Duvall, who “does nothing but scream and be stupid, and this isn’t the woman I wrote about! ..” It gets dark, the years go by and Stephen King grumbles, endlessly returning to the film “The Shining” found in it pros and cons. Now his opinion is: “This is a very nice movie, it looks great – like a big nice Cadillac without an engine.”



The Dark Tower cycle (The Gunslinger, Extraction of the Three and six more novels)

“To shine”


“Inflammatory Look”


“dead zone”


“Dolores Claiborne”

“Pet Cemetery”

“Under the dome”


Peter Kavinsky

Peter Kavinsky is the Executive Editor at

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