Leopold Broom Investigates: The Trappings of Fame or Stephen King Syndromes

by Lee Cross

Don’t be misled by the title, up-front I just want to say that I’m not slagging Stephen King in any way.

Am I his biggest fan? well, no I’m… in fact, I’m probably not even in the top million, but that’s my mark of respect to the man; that he has literally millions of fans.

leopold-broomGrowing up in a telly addicted house, King was one of the few authors I’d even heard of (at least outside of the classroom) and in my teen years, I read many of his books…

Well, I thought I did. Back then I had no idea how prolific his output truly was in publishing terms. Now, with 20 years reading experience under my belt, David Baldacci is the only writer I can name who matches him in terms of pure output (I’m assuming an acceptable level of quality, as defined by their fans) even the many ghostwriters of Robert Ludlum can’t compete.

So – kudos Mr. King – you are a Titan.

Right so, compliments over, let the slagging begin.

The issue I have with SK novels (one I couldn’t have named when I was still reading him) is that most of them feel as though they were written with one eye on the movie adaptation that was sure to be produced.

Not all, of course, The Dark Tower novels I’ve always considered stood alone, even in SK’s mind, because the scope of them was so epic, the special effects required so far beyond imaging (not to mention budgetary limitations). The story of the Dark Tower was just a love affair that he was indulging between bestsellers… and if I have one true criticism of King’s writing it’s that it is formulated, most usually, with great skill and professional pride but very rarely, at least to my mind, pure passion and love.

[There’s a certain irony in the fact that the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the six Lord of the Rings movies have made the epic story worth producing. Couple that with the efforts of all those unnamed geniuses who have taken special effects to a level of previously unimagined excellence… apparently even beyond the dreams of one of the great storytellers! What a pleasantly sobering thought!]

Anyway, I drifted off, the point of my blog was to express frustration at how successful writers take their focus off what made them successful when Hollywood, fame, and fortune come calling.

Instead of continuing to write to the whim of their own imagination, they give a second thought to how a Director or Producer might read their text. Lee Child immediately springs to mind, his last two Reacher Novels have felt like screen stories ready to go into pre-production.

I don’t want to pick on anyone particularly though because why shouldn’t a writer want their work to reach a (unintentional pun – Doh!) wider audience, not to mention generating additional income and fame As a committed reader, I just feel incredibly short-changed when a writer I truly respect doesn’t return that respect in kind.

Oh, and buyer beware: – careful about what bridges you leave burning behind you.

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