Saturday December 8, 2012

LOWELL (AP) -- Stephen King loves scaring people, but one student at University of Massachusetts Lowell tried to find out Friday what scares him.

"Spiders, snakes ... my mother-in-law," the writer said with a grin.

The author of international bestselling books including "Carrie" and "The Shining" came to the college to talk with writing students.

English Department professor Andre Dubus III, another bestselling author and an old friend of King’s, shared the stage for about an hour as students asked questions about their craft.

Wearing jeans and a black T-shirt, the 65-year-old writer from Maine peppered his talk with profanity and promised students he was just a regular guy.

He said they shouldn’t be in awe like he was when he was a University of Maine freshman and heard a talk from "Catch-22" author Joseph Heller.

The author told students he knows where he gets his writing ideas about half the time, and his fascination for horror stories didn’t come from childhood trauma.

During his lecture and in an interview later, King also talked about two books he’s finished that will be published in 2013.

The author’s crime novel "Joyland" will be out in paperback in July, followed in September by the book "Doctor Sleep," a sequel to his thriller "The Shining."

The story is set in a New Hampshire hospice, where now all-grown-up character Danny Torrance works.


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King said he had reservations about writing a sequel, but people always wanted to know more about the little boy from "The Shining."

Because Torrance can read minds, King said he was intrigued by the idea of having the character work in a hospice as someone who helps people cross over from life to death.

The author encouraged students to be people-watchers and pick up on traits that would let them create their own characters.

King also warned them against becoming discouraged about publishers’ rejection slips and said not to use notebooks for story ideas. He said the stuff that’s worth writing stays in your head.