We all have our own list of favorite authors. Some we have decided to keep a secret because we’re afraid of the judgment we’ll face if we say their names out loud. While your friends are making fun of people who read romance novels or light summer reads, you want to raise your hand and say, “HEY! That’s me! I read those! At least I’m reading, you jerks!” And that’s just it—at least you are reading.
In a world where we see people too busy looking down at their phones to check out their latest social feed, you’re sitting outside on your lunch break enjoying a new book. But it’s not only “cultured” readers who look forward to roasting an author they deem as insipid or impuissant. There are other prominent writers out there who have no qualms discussing the literary failings of their peers.
All Hail the King!
Stephen King is one such author who holds nothing back. A New York Times bestselling novelist, King made a name for himself with his novels Carrie, IT, and The Shining. Widely known for his work in the fantasy and horror genres, King has published 55 novels to date and won a vast number of awards for his work.
Despite winning literary awards and having a large number of works published, does that give King the right to degrade another author’s writing? Stephen King fans are inclined to agree; he’s earned the right.” Others that think King’s writing is overwrought will decidedly answer “No, he’s a talentless hack himself.”
There are three popular-selling authors whom King has had less than complimentary remarks for, including Dean Koontz, Stephenie Meyer and James Patterson. King himself has said, “talent is cheaper than table salt. What separated the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” So what is it about the three aforementioned authors that King finds to be abhorrent?
With 14 New York Times bestsellers under his belt, it’s hard to argue against Koontz’s writing merit. Having won the Atlantic Monthly fiction competition when he was only a senior in college, Koontz has gained notoriety through the years for his storytelling in the horror, thriller and suspense genres.
Yet despite the acclaim he has received and the hundreds of millions of books he has sold, Stephen King does not count himself among Koontz fans. In an interview with USA Weekend back in 2009, King said that Koontz’s writing is “sometimes … just awful.” But why is it awful? Could it be because they write in the same genres, and are therefore in competition with each other? Who can tell.
Whether you’re a Stephenie Meyer fan or not, we can all agree that her work has been commercially successful. Twilight was rated as the New York Times Editor’s Choice and Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year.
Selling more than 250 million copies, Meyer’s Twilight series about an angst 70-something vampire in love with a teenage mortal he met in a high-school science class literally captured the minds of millions. Turned into a successful film franchise not long thereafter, Twilight has cemented itself in contemporary vampire lore.
For Stephen King however, Stephenie Meyer is not to be saluted for her writing prowess. Of Stephenie Meyer King said, “[Meyer] can’t write worth a darn. She’s not very good.” He further compares Meyer’s work with JK Rowling to help prove his point. Though both Meyer and Rowling write fantasy, is it fair to compare the two when they do not write about the same subject matter?
James Patterson’s books have sold over 350 million copies worldwide and Patterson is the current Guinness World Record holder for the most #1 New York Times bestsellers. Having written novels for all age groups in various genres, Patterson has continued to challenge himself and his readers. King doesn’t see it this way.
Speaking about James Patterson, King was quoted as saying, “[Patterson is] a terrible writer [who is] very, very successful.” If you were to define writing prowess based on the number of sales, King would tell you that it means nothing. Does it matter that Patterson has sold millions of copies of his books? No. But it has to mean something, doesn’t it? If people didn’t like his writing style or storytelling devices, he wouldn’t be so successful, would he?
Now here’s really something to think about: if the writing of these three authors is so terrible, how is it they sell so many books? How is it they have all appeared on the New York Times bestsellers list? Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but you need some kind of proof to back up an argument.
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