Stephen King disses Stephenie Meyer

Ah, I knew Twilight would make it into this blog eventually. I read this article yesterday, in which Stephen King says that, “Stephenie Meyer can’t write worth a darn. She’s not very good.”

Now, to be perfectly honest, I agree with King. (Also to be perfectly honest, though, I have read Stephenie Meyer, which is more than I can say for Stephen King . . .). In fact, I wrote a very snarky review of Twilight in my personal book blog, and I get a sort of perverse satisfaction when I read other snarky reviews. Nonetheless, reading this blurb about Stephen King’s snarkiness toward Stephenie Meyer majorly rubbed me the wrong way, and I’ve been trying to put my finger on why. Some of the things I’ve wondered include

  • Does this bug me because I’ve heard Stephen King isn’t a great writer, either? Is it a case of the pot calling the kettle black, two mediocre writers who have still managed to attain phenomenal success? Again, I haven’t read King, but I have heard from multiple people whose taste I trust that he’s not great.
  • I wondered, does it bug me because I think Stephen King should “pick on someone his own size”? But in the teen girl world, Stephenie Meyer is wildly successful and probably is his own size.
  • Is it because it’s a male established writer dissing a female newby?

Finally, I decided I think it’s just that I see no good reason for Stephen King to use his “literary status” to pontificate  about how Stephenie Meyer doesn’t have what it takes. It’s one thing to have non-published writers diss her (I mean, let’s face it, us non-pubs can get resentful of others’ wild success); it’s one thing to have published, established writers who are writing about “serious” matters and not earning two pennies to rub together diss her; even those who consider her market competetive to their own may have something to gain from snarkiness. But Stephen King? She’s not stealing his readers. It’s not as if he doesn’t have his own success to make him feel comfy and secure. It just seems like a mean-spirited thing to do. And even if I may agree with his assessment of writing abilities, I have less desire than ever to pick up one of his books.

4 Responses to Stephen King disses Stephenie Meyer

  1. I’ve only read a few things by King, and I wasn’t very impressed. I haven’t read any Stephanie Meyers, so I can’t make a comparison, but I certainly feel that he should quietly, humbly appreciate his success and let others enjoy theirs.

  2. Jenna says:

    Writing style aside, the big difference between King and Meyer is that King can put together a good story. Meyer can’t. If “Twilight” had a better plot, and better character development, her crappy writing wouldn’t be such an issue.

    I read King’s column in “Entertainment Weekly,” and he is neither quiet nor humble. He never shies away from giving his full opinion, so it doesn’t surprise me that he made those comments about Meyer — which was actually a reaction to the comparison of J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer, and not a random diss. (Liking the “Twilight” Saga is one thing, but I’m sick of hearing them be lauded as the next “Harry Potter.”) When I read that article on Yahoo, I was actually relieved that someone of “status” finally confronted that.

  3. Yeah, I actually cringe to have the Twilight saga compared to the Harry Potter books, too, partly because the quality is poorer in Twilight, but also because they’re just not the same kind of book. Twilight is marketed very specifically toward adolescent girls, and the adults who read it / like it like it because it taps into their inner adolescent, not because it really speaks to any sort of universal story. Harry Potter, on the other hand, transcends its genre, age, and gender, and people can relate to it on a lot of different levels, depending at where they are in their life when they come to the series. Twilight, as far as I can tell, doesn’t have that kind of “staying power,” and it is frustrating to have them compared just because they both have fanatical fan bases.

  4. vajrakrishna says:

    Hi! Interesting thoughts… I’d written something about this, let me share:

    Stephenie Meyer, upon waking from a dream, lucid and effervescent, immediately pours the filaments, the textures, the core truth into a book. In no ambiguous terms, this is resemblant of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s mythic creation of Kubla Khan… a vision gifted within a dream. Suffice to say, Taylor may have already been a poet before he received his vision, yet as history reveals time and time again, visions come at unexpected times to unexpected people – and we, with a meagre faculty of rationalism, are least equipped to criticise that the idea came to the wrong person.

    Indeed, the dream that came to Stephenie Meyer is texturally rich, and has the layers of perhaps one of the greatest romances ever told, and Stephenie Meyer certainly has the sensitivity to translate it for today’s young audience. She has fully captured the depth of the love story – and, beyond anything, only a storyteller can do that (debatable as it is if a storyteller and a writer are one and the same thing).

    Which brings me to Stephen King, and some of you may be aware of the comments he made about Stephenie Meyer, if not, check this. Firstly, Stephen King is a pop culture writer. The majority of his writings are hardly literature, and bearing this in mind, if he is judging Stephenie Meyer, then he is only so capable as to judge her ability to captivate an audience – but hang on a second, the one consistency in popular culture is that a person’s ability to captivate an audience speaks for itself by merely – book sales. Infact, if you wanted to speak about good writers, one of the few that integrate popular culture and simultaneously writes satire is Terry Pratchett. I find Michael Crichton to be a far better writer than Stephen King, and while we’re on the topic, J K Rowling is atrocious as a writer, but wonderful as a storyteller. But all this is using the term “writer” very loosely. Literature, as one would have it, is upon the makings of authors such as Salman Rushdie. Within popular culture, however, it is about engrossing audiences – not about writing in and of itself – the intentions are entirely different, it is about themes rather than the mastery of words.

    What convinces me of Stephenie’s magical story is within her discription of how she wrote her book,

    “All this time, Bella and Edward were, quite literally, voices in my head. They simply wouldn’t shut up. I’d stay up as late as I could stand trying to get all the stuff in my mind typed out, and then crawl, exhausted, into bed (my baby still wasn’t sleeping through the night, yet) only to have another conversation start in my head. I hated to lose anything by forgetting, so I’d get up and head back down to the computer. Eventually, I got a pen and notebook for beside my bed to jot notes down so I could get some freakin’ sleep. It was always an exciting challenge in the morning to try to decipher the stuff I’d scrawled across the page in the dark.”

    There is a name among writers circles for this kind of writing. Billy Marshall-Stoneking, the legendary playwright of our times calls this “mediumistic writing”. I remember him explaining to me once during tea break at a writing workshop, that truly original writing is “catching”, not “throwing”… that is, writers aren’t inventing their characters – their characters are as alive and as pulsating as they are. They are, in fact, listening to the voice of their characters. If you make your character do something that is totally out of character, your character will fight with you, and sometimes, stop talking to you – until you are ready to listen again. This is why great writing has always been a struggle of the soul – it is not a picnic, it is a dramatic interchange that is life altering. Most “authors” do not write like that. Most authors imagine themselves to be the “creators” of their characters, as inventors of their fictional worlds, and go abour writing their stories in much the same way – and such authors do not stand the test of time – BECAUSE THERE IS NO SOUL IN THEIR WORK! For your stories to be immortal, you need to be listening – you need to hear the voices of your characters.

    Suffice to say, Stephenie Meyer has dreamt a breathtaking vision, it is exhilarating and has earnt my respect because I have personally seen teenagers sit there in silence, lost in the world she created, their eyes LITERALLY GLEAMING with some insightful understanding of the magical. I say this with no exaggeration – it is almost as if a “seed” of something profound was given to Stephenie, and is passed on to those who read Twilight. Some concept both utopian and utterly, utterly, romantic.

    Infact, just about the only book I would recommend of Stephen King’s is “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft”, which is a remarkable introspection of life, and of his passion. It is the one work where a great level of soulsearching and effort had come from King, placing the book in Entertainment Weekly’s 100 Best Reads from 1983 – 2008. That is his only book in that list. It isn’t a perfect book, yet it has some crutial messages from a man who’s had a rare opportunity.

    Stephen King has forgotten the meaning of romance. Perhaps to him, romance can only exist within the covers of a Mills & Boon, and that kind of thinking is unrewarding. There is, of course, the “manufactured romance”, a million and one replicas ready to feed you, dissapoint you, and ultimately harden your soul. Then there is the real thing, rare, and hard to find – oh so very rare that it comes to you as a fleeting thought, a spark here now, gone now. I believe it is this very thing that placed itself in Stephenie’s dream.

    Continued on:

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