Over the coming weeks I plan to introduce you to some of my all-time favourite novels, giving a brief overview of each one and explaining why I love the stories, and how they have influenced me as a writer.
A few titles are instantly recognisable, but others are lesser known gems and I hope you guys will check them out and enjoy reading them too.
My first book is a classic. The Shining by Stephen King.
I was fourteen and on holiday in Cyprus when I first read The Shining, and even though I was sitting around a busy pool in broad daylight, there were still parts of the story that were so damn scary I had to momentarily put the book down and reassure myself what I was reading wasn’t real.
In the television show, Friends, Joey keeps his copy of The Shining in the refrigerator, because that’s where scary books have to go. I’m not sure I have room in my fridge, but if I did, The Shining would be the first book I would want to put in there.
Most of you will be familiar with the story, but to summarize, Jack Torrance is a writer and, for additional income and a chance to work on his novel, he takes a job as caretaker of the Overlook Hotel. The hotel is in Colorado and due to heavy snowfall is closed during winter months. Jack and his family, wife Wendy and son Danny, are the only occupants until it reopens in the spring.
Add to this, Danny’s ‘gift’ of being about to see things before they happen – shining – and the fact the Overlook has an unsettling history, and you have all the ingredients for a classic horror tale, as, trapped in the hotel, Jack starts to lose his grip on reality. Is it down to cabin fever or is there something more sinister hidden within the walls?
Stephen King is a master storyteller and one who know how to crank up the tension through suggestion; something I have tried to do in my own novels, as I fully believe what you are left to imagine is far scarier than having the words spelt out for you. It was after reading Misery, some years later, that I decided I wanted to take my hobby of short story writing and try and complete a novel, but The Shining will always be the Stephen King book that sticks with me the most.
I finished The Shining on holiday and we were then delayed by airport strikes and moved to a luxury hotel in Limassol for the night. Our room was about three doors down from 237 and if you’ve read the book, you’ll understand why this scared the bejesus out of me.
In fact, I don’t think I got a wink of sleep all night.
Coming next on my recommended list – Valentine by Tom Savage