Stephen King might be a master of horror, but there's more to him than just that. He is secretly inspirational, both in real life and in the themes he includes in his books. His best novels are known for their scare factor, but there's usually something inspiring about them if you dare to look beneath the surface. He's actually kind of a sweet and cuddly guy in reality, and that fact shows in both his professional life and his personal one.
In his novels, redemption, childhood friendships, and the value of perseverance are recurring themes and motifs. Even his scarier works often secretly have an uplifting message. Constant Readers - what King calls his fans - may have picked up on some, but not all, of these themes. The more you learn about the guy, the more interesting he seems to get.
While It may be absolute nightmare fuel for anyone afraid of clowns - and it features a lot of child murder - there's really an uplifting message at the core. In the novel, kids who were previously outcast or bullied manage to come together to find companionship in each other. They embrace and own the insults that have been hurled at them for years and form the Losers Club.
On top of the theme of finding friends and belonging, the ending of the novel reveals a timeless message. The kids work together, and use their friendship, to keep one of them safe from evil. Through the group's willingness for self-sacrifice, they stop the evil force that has existed for centuries, preying on the innocent. Although it's a gory path to walk, and the trauma may linger, good eventually does triumph in the end and life goes on.
The novel Misery is a horrifying tale of an author held captive, but it's not just about an obsessive fan torturing a man she worships. Instead, it's a metaphor for what Stephen King himself went through in his struggles against addiction. During much of his writing career, King abused drugs and alcohol. One of his biggest vices was cocaine, which is represented in Misery by Annie Wilkes. She confines the author, forces him to do things he doesn't want to do, and destroys his body. Just as cocaine would do to an addict.
In the end, the author fights back and escapes from Annie. Although he's damaged by the experience, he does get free, telling the reader that recovery from addiction is possible.
While Carrie had a lot of discussions on bullying, the cruelness of teens, and loss of innocence, it contains a line that speaks to its inspiration. That line is the dedication. Carrie was Stephen King's first hit novel, but it was almost over before it started. King wrote three pages of the story and threw them away, frustrated that he couldn't write women.
His wife, Tabby, saw the pages in the trash and read them, then insisted he had to keep writing. To King's surprise, the novel was a huge success, and even spawned a major movie. In the novel, the dedication line still reads: "This is for Tabby, who got me into it - and then bailed me out of it."
Stephen King isn't afraid to cast people with disabilities as heroes or vital players in a story's conclusion. In The Langoliers, a blind girl gifted with telepathy is able to say when a person wishes ill will, and helps the characters get back to the regular world. In It, one of the leaders of the group has a stuttering problem.
Several other King characters have cognitive disabilities, or mental illnesses, like Tom Cullen in The Stand or Duddits in Dreamcatcher. And yet they do what is right, they persevere, they are loyal friends, and they often end up playing the hero. Many times, they also have supernatural powers. In the end, King isn't afraid to say that people with disabilities can still save the day.