Dear Stephen King
The first novel of yours I read was CARRIE. I found it my school library, and devoured it. I identified with Carrie. I was the nerdy kid that people made fun of, that none of the boys wanted to go out with.
That was also the year I started writing horror stories. For me, it became a way of dealing with negative emotions. All of the angst in my head I could put on the page. Making terrible things happen to characters was a way of making my own problems seem more trivial. Sometimes I wished for the sort of power that Carrie has, so that I could get my own back on people who made my life a misery. In retrospect, it was healthier to take out that angst on fictional characters.
Now I am pleased to be a published horror novelist. I still take pleasure in making terrible things happen to fictional characters, and I still use writing as a way of dealing with negative emotions. I think in some ways writers are more balanced members of society than non-writers. At least we have that outlet – a way of exorcising negative feelings. My grandmother once asked me why I insisted on writing horror, and why couldn’t I write stories about nice things? The answer, in short, is that good feelings I want to hold onto, so I don’t write about them. Writing about all the negative feelings – loneliness; isolation; betrayal; anxiety – is a coping mechanism.
I wish to thank you for introducing me to horror at an age when I was trying to make sense of the world, because it helped me to cope with the transition into adulthood. And then when I got there, I discovered I quite enjoyed writing horror and decided to stick with it. I know it’s not everybody’s cup of tea, but I am proud to call myself a horror writer.
Sara Jayne Townsend