Would the ‘Real’ Stephen King Please Stand Up?

 

By C.M. Saunders

 

 

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I don’t know if you’ve noticed (okay, people with actual social lives probably haven’t) but there’s been a storm brewing over on Amazon for some time now. It concerns the prolific writer Stephen King, who has sold somewhere in the region of 350 million books since his first novel Carrie came out way back in 1973, and another writer, also called Stephen King, who hasn’t sold quite that many.

The thing is, he’s sold a few. Probably a few thousand. Mainly to people who think they are buying books written by the other Stephen King. The famous one. Or, as they like to call him, the ‘real’ one. People are upset. Some call bullshit, others throw words like ‘fraud,’ ‘charlatan’ and ‘fake’ around. Some have even alluded to some kind of Amazon conspiracy geared to selling more books. As if the ‘real’ Stephen King didn’t sell enough for them as it is. The vast majority of these readers feel they have been duped and leave scathing reviews mostly centred around the fact that they didn’t receive what they thought they would be receiving, i.e. a book by the right Stephen King. Some sample review headlines include: Buyer Beware! NOT the real Stephen King! Beware of Imitation! Why Try and Fool the public?! Fake! Outright Lie! And my own personal favourite… Muck from a Loser!

I think it’s fair to say this guy is really suffering at the hands of the buying public. There have been masses of complaints, a lot of discussion, and it’s a hot topic on various forums and message boards. Even one on the ‘real’ Stephen King’s website, which was forced to issue a response. 

It’s also a common topic on fan sites, and personal blogs, where people, quite simply, be losing their shit…

Even other well-known writers are having their say. 

It probably doesn’t help that when you search Amazon for Stephen King books you get a selection from both blokes, and a lot of the ill-feeling seems to stem from the fact that Amazon ‘recommend’ books by both blokes to readers, based on their buying and search history. This begs the question, would you buy a Morris Minor just because it had a Rolls Royce badge on it? Of course you wouldn’t. Unless you either wanted a Morris Minor with a Rolls Royce badge on it, or are just dumb as fuck. Amazon as an organization are very strict when it comes to fraud and other such matters, and rightly so. You can bet after they received the first batch of angry complaints they investigated the issue thoroughly.

Now, here’s what I think happened…

Amazon approached the ‘fake’ Stephen King and demanded he prove his identity. And you know what? He did. Because his name really is Stephen King. It’s quite a common name, believe it or not.

I might be in the minority here, but I can’t help feeling a bit of sympathy for the guy. Imagine his delight when his book suddenly started selling by the proverbial truckload, then his dismay when he realised most, if not all, those people who bought his book did so accidentally. And then blamed him for their mistake. It’s hardly his fault he was given the same name as one of the greatest writers on the modern age. It might not even be his intention to try to ride the ‘real’ Stephen King’s coattails. We don’t know, because he hasn’t broken his silence yet. He’s probably in hiding because of all the people who want to string him up by his balls.

Of course, he might just be trying to make a fast buck. Maybe he doesn’t even like writing. Judging by most of the reviews, he isn’t very good at it. In which case he deserves everything he gets, but let’s err on the side of caution and go with ‘innocent until proven guilty.’

I can’t help thinking most of the fault lies with the people who allowed themselves to be ‘duped’ then kicked up a storm over it, probably because they are angry with themselves. I mean, any release by the ‘real’ Stephen King is big news. You hear about it all over the mainstream press. His books don’t just slip into the Kindle Store unannounced. And if people had enough common sense to do the most basic research before hitting the ‘click to buy’ button, none of this would have happened. How about checking the ‘real’ Stephen King’s website, or doing a quick Google search to see if there are any new releases?

The more savvy might note that the ‘fake’ Stephen King’s books aren’t put out by Simon & Schuster, the ‘real’ Stephen King’s publisher. Or, indeed, any publisher. On top of all that, the covers are amateurish. At least, they aren’t what you’d expect from a major publishing house. And any self-respecting ‘real’ Stephen King fan should be able to smell a rat just from reading the book description. To make it REALLY easy for the dullard consumer, Amazon even post a disclaimer next to fake’ Stephen King’s books.

Please Note: If you are looking for books by Stephen King, bestselling author of Doctor Sleep and The Shining, please visit his author page.

Yet, ‘fake’ Stephen King still has three books in the Amazon #10 at the time of writing. That’s more than the ‘real’ one.

Isn’t it ironic?

 

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Our Obsession with Darkness: Serial Killers

by Renee Miller

 

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It’s no secret humans have a sick fascination with death. As an extension of that, we are enthralled by serial killers. A twisted mind is intriguing. Inspiring even. I devour shows like The Following (LOVED Joe Carroll’s character), How to Make a Murderer, and Dexter—Oh. My. Fucking. God. Be still my little writer heart. What is it about these horrible, sick people that takes hold of a person’s mind and won’t let go? Well, I’ve pondered that a lot.

I write a lot of murder scenes. In my Milo Smalls series (Mind Fuck), the MC is a homicide detective with a nose for serial killers. So it follows that my Google searches are interesting to someone. How to get away with murder, mistakes killers make, weirdest way to kill a person… It’s all just research. Honest.

Maybe you’re like me, and your interest lies in what makes such a mind tick or why we’re drawn to them. Perhaps it’s the danger that attracts us. I don’t know. Fiction plays into this in a big way. Readers love that evil genius, who is borderline insane, strangely attractive, and desperately wants to get caught. But not all serial killers are geniuses, nor are they men, as many people believe. We imagine them as white males of higher than average intelligence, because it’s what we see in the media. Many of the killers who’ve become infamous are white men; Gacy, Rader, Bundy, Dahmer, etc. Finding a female serial killer is rare. You probably knew that, though. Is it because there are fewer women out there murdering than men? Perhaps. Statistics say that only one in six serial killers are female.  When I see that I think “Well, only one in six who are caught.”

And most of the time, I believe they do whatever they can to avoid getting caught. They don’t want to be locked up. They don’t want to stop. So they become experts at manipulation. They become adept at being invisible. They’re often pretty damn charming too. Sure, they might be a little weird. Creepy, even, if you get close enough to catch them with their guards down. But who would want to get that close? Not this girl. However, most of them know how to read people. They’re able to manipulate victims into situations they might usually avoid, after all. I mean who would expect this guy,

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Would turn out to be this guy?

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Who else is a little turned on right now? Just me? Moving along then.

Many serial killers are on the fringes of society. They may appear to be part of everything, but inside they’re not wired the same as us “normals.” And they know it. So they watch. Make notes. They use this information to blend in, to behave in a manner that keeps suspicion off them.So next time you’re all aflutter over that stranger’s winning personality and bedroom eyes, remember there’s no way to know who among us is harmless and who just got back from a skinning session. It’s not like they have a particular trait or physical characteristic that warns us. Many psychopaths are very much in touch with reality, and understand right from wrong so they do whatever they have to do to keep their activities a secret. They move around below our radar. Most are not reclusive, social weirdos. They don’t act strange and aren’t easily identified. They have families, jobs, and can be upstanding members of their communities, and do whatever is necessary to ensure they’re overlooked by law enforcement and victims.

And this leads me to another disturbing fact: It takes a lot for a serial killer to grab our attention these days. Sure, law enforcement is VERY interested, but the general public is all “Oh, you shot fifty people? Did you eat any of them? Make a skull headboard? Skin lamp? No?”

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“Ugh. Move along, Mr. Lunatic. We’re done with you.”

If a serial killer these days wants to be famous, or has a desire to be remembered, he’ll have to up the ante. Terrifying thought, but there it is. We reward the vilest deeds by almost fangirling them. It’s fascinating, thrilling even, to know every detail of their crimes. To stare at their images from the safety of our homes, look into their eyes for evidence of something, anything, that makes them different from you or me, and hypothesize what went so wrong this person would enjoy taking lives.

A sort of consolation prize for getting caught, I suppose, is that everyone learns who you are and what you did. Thanks to the constant bombardment of horrific images we see in movies, games, television shows and news reports, we’ve all become kind of blind to the stuff that used to keep us up at night. It’s almost like now they’re at our mercy if they’re seeking infamy. We need them to be truly horrific monsters. That way, we can rest easy believing Average Joe next door would never break in and wear our skin as a cape or fry up our liver.

What have we become? Relax. It’s normal to feel or think all of these things. Getting a thrill out of these stories doesn’t make you a bad person. It makes you pretty average. I mean, what makes a gripping story? Action, danger, dread, mystery, a hero and a villain… All of these things are present in serial killer stories, real or imagined. No wonder we’re captivated. We get to see the disturbing details of their lives, pick them apart, figure out what went wrong. We can determine how they kill, what they look for in a victim, and maybe, just maybe, protect ourselves from becoming another name on a list in some documentary about a serial killer.

And don’t feel bad for getting hooked by the “what if” factor either. You’re human. It’s normal to wonder (if only once) what it would be like to do whatever we wanted, society’s rules be damned.

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After saying all of this, I admit, I sometimes wonder if writers are guiltier of romanticising serial killers than the rest of the public. Maybe. We do like to dig inside the heads of people who live life on the fringes. But then, if readers didn’t love it so much, we’d be forced to find another way to grab their attention. Lucky for us, there’s always sex.

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For the foreseeable future, serial killers will hold a place in the dark recesses of our minds and hearts. We will continue to watch and wonder when one is caught. We’ll continue to obsess over those who got away. And some of us will still be here to write about all of it.

 

In Defense of Not Publishing Everything You Write

by Katrina Monroe

If you ask any fledgling writer (or seasoned writer, for that matter) what the purpose is to writing often and with ferocious glee as one approaches the finish line, they would probably answer with, “to publish,” followed quickly by, “to make money.” Occasionally, you’ll get what the internet has christened The Guy in Your MA Program response, “To dispel the demons which dwell in my soul, tormenting me for endless hours.”

Yeah, I’ve got kids. I feel you, buddy.

But not all writers are tortured souls. In fact, most of the writers I know are relatively happy people with families and friends and the greatest guilt they harbor is spending an entire day binging old episodes of Supernatural rather than editing that thing that’s been sitting on the desk for two weeks. They write to publish. They write to make money.

That’s totally fine. I write to publish. I write to make money.

But what if we wrote—not all the time, but sometimes—just because.

I have a pretty standard nighttime routine during the summer months when my daughters are out of school and making it their sole mission in life to see how quickly they can drive me, drooling and giggling, to the asylum. I get into my yoga pants and a torn-up hoodie I stole from a friend many years ago (sorry, Jessie, you can’t have it back), pour a really large glass of whatever alcoholic beverage is closest, and settle onto the couch with my journal in my lap. Sometimes, I write about my day (to dispel the demons and blah, blah). Sometimes, I plot out what’ll happen next in my current work-in-progress. Most of the time, though, I scribble insane ramblings that can take the shape of poetry, a vignette, a few lines of dialogue that won’t leave me alone… They’re little pieces of something inside of me that can only be expressed by writing them down. I don’t even know how to form the words in my head until they’re out, and even then I can’t make sense of them until every last word is on the page.

Would you be surprised if I told you that these snatches of poetry and prose are, more often than not, good? Like, good good. I should publish this shit good. Make some of that Neil Gaiman bank good. And, for a minute, I consider throwing it into my “real” writing, thinking it’ll add some sparkle. I always resist, though, because there’s more than just style and form put into these collections of words. I won’t say my soul is in it, but something. And whatever the something is, I want to keep it private. Special.

The other night, during a particularly tearful word purge, I wrote a twenty-line poem about absolutely nothing. I’m not cocky enough to say it’s amazing (it’s amazing) but it’s pretty damn good. It’ll stay in my journal, though, where I can revisit it like I would a paramour.

My little writings are my secrets. They’re little glimpses into the side of me I don’t often present to myself or others. I could throw them in an anthology, slap a cover on it and make a few bucks. Or I could rip it apart and sell it piece by piece to a magazine here, an anthology there, like scraps of meat. But then they wouldn’t be secrets anymore. They wouldn’t be mine. I couldn’t turn to them in the moments when I’m whittled to almost nothing and realize I do have depth, I do have worth, and I’m allowed to keep some things for myself. I’m allowed to be this person, even if the only people who know about it are me and myself.

Publish the big things. The things that make you excited. The things you can’t fucking wait to share with the rest of the world. But the things that prick your feels with needles, keep those for yourself. I hear acupuncture does wonders.

Do you love a party?

 

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Happy Friday, Dolls! Here at Deviant Dolls we have two priorities: writing and readers. Keeping that in mind, we try to make sure we thank you, readers, for your support. For example, every Monday on our Facebook page, we give away freebies to a lucky reader. Of course, you have to like the page to be eligible for said freebies, but that’s easily done, right? Right.

And we’ve committed ourselves to connecting with you in whatever ways we can manage. This includes hosting regular virtual “release” parties. That sounds kind of kinky, eh? It’s not that kind of release. Some of us publish new books on a somewhat frequent basis, and others are simply too shy to make a lot of fuss when new titles are available. We also know you guys are too busy to get excited about every new release we offer.

So, we’re going to celebrate both our new books and you, lovely reader, every few months by drowning you in shits, giggles, and goodies. Sounds exciting, yes?

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Over the next few months (and during the past few months) your Deviant Dolls have been working hard to give you something new and exciting. For example, this summer, Christian Saunders released No Man’s Land: Horror in the Trenches, while Renee Miller released Mind Fuck, Steve Wetherell released the audio version of Shoot the Dead, and Katrina Monroe popped her self-publishing cherry with A Tale du Mort. In September, we look forward to the third installment of Renee’s Fangs and Fur Series, titled Dragons, Dicks, Sins and Scribes (she’s nuts), and Katrina will be releasing All Darling Children with Red Adept Publishing. And we’ve got more to come.

For now, look at this delicious cover…

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Keep an eye on the Deviant Blog, because we’ll also be doing a Christmas Blog Hop and virtual party to celebrate new fall/winter releases by dolls such as Tony Bertauski, and yeah, probably Renee too.

The first of these parties will be September 18th. You can get all the details on our event page on the Facebook. Goodies will include Deviant Doll titles, as well as a few new books from our Deviant friends. We’ll also be showering you with cool “fan” stuff from our store. You can check out some of that right here.

Can’t make it to the party? Don’t worry. We’ll still be giving away cool stuff every Monday, and we’ll offer a few goodies in the weeks leading up to The Big Day. Stay tuned.