Stephen King is, undoubtedly, one of the most well-known writers of today – not only in his genre, but in literature as a whole. It is a far less widely known fact that among his relatives he is far from being alone in this respect – all in all there are five novelists in his immediate family, with four of them having books out this year. Last July, on the week of the Fourth, this family of writers gathered together for a reunion to talk to each other, reminisce and, perhaps, try to remember what led to turning putting words together into some kind of unusual family business.
Usually when we think about a family of entertainers something completely different comes to mind: circus dynasties, musician households – something of the kind. Not writers – it is too individual an accomplishment, too specific a skill to appear so close to each other. But the King family turned everything upside down – there are probably no known analogues in the written history of one family having five authors within two generations.
Although it will certainly be news for some people, the closeness to literature and writing is nothing new for the Kings. They mostly attribute this inclination to Stephen King’s love for audiobooks to which he constantly listened in the eighties during his long drive along Maine’s roads. Even now it is not always easy to find a particular book in this format, and thirty years ago, without the Internet, the audiobook industry has been much less prominent. As a result, King was often unable to find the titles he was interested in – so he made his school-age children read and record for him a small library of books on tape.
This early and unusual contact with the world of literature has certainly left its mark – it will be news even for some hardcore fans of Stephen King’s, but writing has turned into the family business of theirs. His wife, Tabitha King, is a successful author with eight published novels, as well as two of their three children (although the third, his daughter Naomi King, is not a writer per se, she still has a lot of experience in putting written words together). The fact that his son Owen is married to a writer, Kelly Braffet, comes as a final touch to this picture.
The peculiarities of their lifestyle and relationships turned writing and reading into something they all had in common, something they could share with each other. Even their dog, McCurtry, is named after the writer Larry McMurtry – it almost seems as if the entire life of this family has been a special program for bringing up new authors.