Haunted Heart: The Life and Times of Stephen King

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9780312603502: Haunted Heart: The Life and Times of Stephen King

One of the most prolific and popular authors in the world today, Stephen King has become part of pop culture history. His best-selling novels such as Carrie, It, Christine, and many others have captured the imaginations of millions of readers. But who is the man behind those tales of horror, grief, and the supernatural? Where do these ideas come from? And what drives him to keep writing at a breakneck pace after a thirty year career?

In this unauthorized biography, Lisa Rogak reveals the troubled background and lifelong fears that inspire one of the twentieth century's most influential authors. Despite his dark and disturbing work, Stephen King has become revered by critics and his countless fans as an all-American voice more akin to Mark Twain than H. P. Lovecraft. Haunted Heart chronicles his story, revealing the character of a man who has created some of the most memorable---and frightening---stories found in literature today.

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About the Author:

Lisa Rogak is the author of more than forty books. She lives in Charleston, South Carolina. Her most recent biographies are The Man Behind the Da Vinci Code: An Unauthorized Biography of Dan Brown and A Boy Named Shel: The Life and Times of Shel Silverstein.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

1
APT PUPIL
By all accounts, Stephen King should never have been born.
His mother, Nellie Ruth Pillsbury, who went by her middle name, married a captain in the merchant marines named Donald Edwin King on July 23, 1939, in Scarborough, Maine. But given Donald’s frequent and lengthy absences due to the encroaching war, their marriage was on shaky ground from the start.
Doctors had informed Ruth that she would never bear children, and so the Kings did what many presumably infertile couples did back then and applied to adopt a child.
David Victor was adopted shortly after his birth in Portland, Maine, on September 14, 1945, a month after the end of the war.
Despite her doctor’s diagnosis of infertility, in the midwinter of 1947, Ruth discovered she was pregnant. Stephen Edwin King was born on September 21, 1947, two years to the day after David’s adoption was finalized. He shares the birthday with H. G. Wells, author of such sci-fi classics as The War of the Worlds, who was born eighty-one years earlier.
Nellie Ruth Pillsbury was born on February 3, 1913, in Scarborough, Maine, to Guy Herbert and Nellie Weston Fogg Pillsbury. She was the fourth of eight children.
Ruth’s ancestral roots ran deep in her seaside hometown of Scarborough, Maine. Her great-great-grandfather Jonathan Pillsbury moved to town before 1790 just after the American Revolution ended, married a local woman, and raised a family. Ruth’s ancestors owned property, farmed, and built ships and houses in Scarborough for many generations. The family lived on Prouts Neck, a peninsula a fifteen-minute drive from Portland, whose population was a mix of summer people and locals whose roots went back at least several generations. As a young girl, Ruth was surrounded by her siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. Artist Winslow Homer, who died in 1910, had his studio and retirement home near Guy Pillsbury’s home.
In the nineteenth century, Scarborough was an active seaport. In addition to farming, townspeople participated in fishing and shipbuilding. A dike was built in 1877 to control overflowing tidal marshes, but it changed the seascape around Scarborough from a port to a salt marsh.
The town recovered and gained popularity as a summer destination in the early 1900s when regular trolley service brought tourists from Boston and New York. Vacation establishments known as shore dinner houses sprang up along with tourist homes and hotels and motels. A majority of the population worked at jobs in the tourist industry for the summer, including a hotel known as the Pillsbury House, run by some of Ruth’s relatives from 1915 to 1932. In the early 1900s, Ruthie’s father, Guy, supplemented his main income as a carpenter by shuttling tourists from the station to their hotels in a horse-drawn carriage.
Nellie, Ruth’s mother, had worked as a schoolteacher before her marriage, and the entire Pillsbury family placed a high importance on education and music for their children. Ruth’s siblings would go on to attend Bowdoin, Northeastern, and Emerson.
In 1931, the Depression was deeply entrenched in coastal Maine. Natives were already used to making do with what they had, but the Depression brought even less hard cash to down-east households as fewer tourists could afford to travel to the state for vacation. Guy Pillsbury had a houseful: his oldest daughter, Mary, at twenty-three, was still living at home, as were his other children, Mollie, Lois, Mary, Guy Jr., Carolyn, Ethelyn, and Ruth. It was time for some of them to move on. Ruth was only too happy to set off to see the world.
After her idyllic childhood, Ruth studied piano at the New England Conservatory in Boston for a time. Little is known about her life during the Depression, but clearly she didn’t have an easy time of it when it came to her personal life.
A couple of years after she left Scarborough in 1931, Ruth got married, but the marriage quickly soured and she filed for divorce. In the 1930s, divorce was rare in the United States, and many men would automatically have viewed a divorced woman as damaged goods. A few years later, she met Donald Edwin King, who was born on March 11, 1914, to William R. and Helen A. Bowden King, in Peru, Indiana, and Ruth’s history as a divorced woman didn’t seem to bother him.
Ruth and Donald were married on July 23, 1939, in Scarborough, Maine, with her family present. Shortly after the wedding, the couple moved to Chicago to live with Donald’s family at 4815 Belle Plaine Avenue. The honeymoon quickly wore off as Ruth found herself homesick for her native Maine. She was frequently alone while Donald continued to travel around the world as a merchant marine.
Over the next six years, the couple moved frequently. After spending a couple of years in Chicago, they moved to 17 Terrace Place in Croton-on-Hudson, just north of New York City. But again, Don took off, leaving Ruth to fend for herself for a few years while her husband visited sporadically.
She put a brave face on things and decided to pursue a musical career. Every Sunday morning, she ferried herself to Manhattan’s Rockefeller Center to play the organ on a radio show called The Church Today on the NBC network, a weekly broadcast of a traditional church service. If Donald objected to his wife’s career, it didn’t stop her. After all, Ruth was a headstrong woman. Besides, he wasn’t around enough to be bothered by it.
When it was clear that World War Two would soon end, the Kings returned to Maine and Donald retired from his footloose life. The couple fell into an uneasy truce in their modest home in Scarborough, Maine, an hour’s drive from Ruth’s relatives in Durham. Ruth had never learned to drive a car and depended on her husband to get around. He didn’t care for her family, so visits were infrequent. The couple’s unhappiness grew.
Donald took a job as a door-to-door salesman around Portland, pushing Electrolux vacuum cleaners to housewives who were establishing families and contented households as they settled into the beginnings of the postwar baby boom. Knowing that he’d spend each night in the same house, with the same woman, did nothing to soothe the restlessness Donald had indulged during the years he roamed all over the world, during stints at sea that lasted for months at a time. “As my mother once told me, he was the only man on the sales force who regularly demonstrated vacuum cleaners to pretty young widows at two o’clock in the morning,” said Steve years later. “He was quite a ladies’ man, according to my mother. In any case, he was a man with an itchy foot, a travelin’ man, as the song says. I think trouble came easy to him.”
Neither an adopted nor a biological child could keep Donald with his family. He was stuck in a place he didn’t like with a family he didn’t particularly want. And the housewives who invited him into their homes for more than his vacuum cleaners couldn’t hold him either. He missed the adventure of the open road and sea, and waking up in the morning—or in the middle of the night—and never knowing which enemies he’d face.
So one night, when Steve had just turned two, Donald casually told his wife that he was going to the store for a pack of cigarettes. He walked out the door and kept on going. They never saw him again. The drama of his departure would be comically cliché, if not for the permanent damage it did to every member of the King family.
Ruth was a resourceful Mainer, frugal and practical by nature.
After her husband walked out, Ruth packed up her two kids, swallowed her pride, and depended on her relatives, as well as Don’s family in Chicago, to put them up for a short time each while she looked for a job to keep them afloat. Steady jobs for a once-divorced, once-abandoned female pianist with two small children were not in great abundance, even in the great economic boom of the postwar years, so she took what she could get, which most often was menial labor as a housekeeper or bakery clerk.
The small King family would stay in a room in an aunt’s or cousin’s house or apartment until Ruth felt they were about to wear out their welcome, then they’d move on to the next sympathetic relative with a room to spare. Their perambulations took them far beyond Maine. During the first four years after Donald left and while Stephen was two to six years of age, they lived in Chicago; Fort Wayne, Indiana; Malden, Massachusetts; and West De Pere, Wisconsin.
Sometimes, to Ruth’s great consternation, she had to split up the family. At one point Steve stayed with Ruth’s younger sister Ethelyn and her husband, Oren Flaws, in West Durham, Maine, while Dave stayed with Mollie, another sister, in Malden, Massachusetts.
Ruth King rarely let her boys see her dejection at their poverty and constant moves. Instead, she dealt with their circumstances with a sense of humor and by telling her young sons stories. Both her optimism and storytelling would have a lasting influence on Steve.
The boys often shared a bedroom, more often a bed, and had to deal with threadbare hand-me-down clothes and broken toys from cousins who were often resentful at the attention Steve and David received. In the midst of such tumult, and with a few relatives who were clearly not thrilled about having a couple of youngsters underfoot, the two young boys quickly learned to look after each other, finding a comfortable refuge in books. They often read to each other. When Ruth got home from work, she’d grill them to make sure that they’d been reading the whole time she was gone.
In later years, Steve told a story from when he was four years old and playing outside with a friend who lived near a railroad line. He was supposed to wait to be picked up or to call Ruth when he wanted to come home, but he showed up back home an hour later, clearly in shock, his face white as a sheet.
While they were playing, S...

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Book Description St. Martin's Griffin. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Paperback. 336 pages. Dimensions: 8.2in. x 5.4in. x 0.9in.One of the most prolific and popular authors in the world today, Stephen King has become part of pop culture history. His best-selling novels such as Carrie, It, Christine, and many others have captured the imaginations of millions of readers. But who is the man behind those tales of horror, grief, and the supernatural Where do these ideas come from And what drives him to keep writing at a breakneck pace after a thirty year careerIn this unauthorized biography, Lisa Rogak reveals thetroubled backgroundand lifelong fears that inspire one of the twentieth centurys most influential authors. Despite his dark and disturbing work, Stephen King has become revered by critics and his countless fans as an all-American voice more akin to Mark Twain than H. P. Lovecraft. Haunted Heartchronicles his story, revealing the character of a man who has created some of the most memorable---and frightening---stories found in literature today. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Bookseller Inventory # 9780312603502

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