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Exclusive Book-of-the-Month-Club anthology of hard to find non-fiction pieces, little known interviews, short stories, and articles about writing for those looking for direction on how to find their own "windows"—or for anyone wishing to be touched by Stephen King's humor and wisdom... Included in this collection are unpublished early fiction (very early; King was 12 when h Exclusive Book-of-the-Month-Club anthology of hard to find non-fiction pieces, little known interviews, short stories, and articles about writing for those looking for direction on how to find their own "windows"—or for anyone wishing to be touched by Stephen King's humor and wisdom... Included in this collection are unpublished early fiction (very early; King was 12 when he wrote "Jumper" and "Rush Call"); a pre-Carrie article with tips for selling stories to men's magazines ("The Horror Writer and the Ten Bears: A True Story"); advice to his son on writing (with the look-twice title "Great Hookers I Have Known"); recommendations to teen readers in a Seventeen article ("What Stephen King Does for Love"); a long chapter from his wonderful treatise on the horror genre ("Horror Fiction" from Danse Macabre); and even a first-time-in-print short story, "In the Deathroom" (just for fun). With an introduction by Peter Straub.


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Exclusive Book-of-the-Month-Club anthology of hard to find non-fiction pieces, little known interviews, short stories, and articles about writing for those looking for direction on how to find their own "windows"—or for anyone wishing to be touched by Stephen King's humor and wisdom... Included in this collection are unpublished early fiction (very early; King was 12 when h Exclusive Book-of-the-Month-Club anthology of hard to find non-fiction pieces, little known interviews, short stories, and articles about writing for those looking for direction on how to find their own "windows"—or for anyone wishing to be touched by Stephen King's humor and wisdom... Included in this collection are unpublished early fiction (very early; King was 12 when he wrote "Jumper" and "Rush Call"); a pre-Carrie article with tips for selling stories to men's magazines ("The Horror Writer and the Ten Bears: A True Story"); advice to his son on writing (with the look-twice title "Great Hookers I Have Known"); recommendations to teen readers in a Seventeen article ("What Stephen King Does for Love"); a long chapter from his wonderful treatise on the horror genre ("Horror Fiction" from Danse Macabre); and even a first-time-in-print short story, "In the Deathroom" (just for fun). With an introduction by Peter Straub.

30 review for Secret Windows: Essays and Fiction on the Craft of Writing

  1. 5 out of 5

    Johann (jobis89)

    “Well, that’s what writers do. They create ghosts and watch them walk around the room.” If, like me, you would happily read Stephen King’s shopping list and if you’re a completionist, then Secret Windows should be on your wish-list. Any opportunity that arises where I can get inside King’s head, I will GRAB with two hands. Secret Windows was initially suggested as a kind of sequel to On Writing. I wouldn’t necessarily put it into that bracket. It’s more like a random collection of different essays “Well, that’s what writers do. They create ghosts and watch them walk around the room.” If, like me, you would happily read Stephen King’s shopping list and if you’re a completionist, then Secret Windows should be on your wish-list. Any opportunity that arises where I can get inside King’s head, I will GRAB with two hands. Secret Windows was initially suggested as a kind of sequel to On Writing. I wouldn’t necessarily put it into that bracket. It’s more like a random collection of different essays, short stories and introductions he has written for books, like John Fowles’ The Collector and Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door. And that was my only real issue with this one. I’ve already read both of those introductions, as I’ve read those books. I’ve already read his introduction to Night Shift. And I’ve already read Danse Macabre, so I’ve read his piece on horror fiction. Oh, and a story from Everything’s Eventual - In the Death Room - is included in here too. And guess what? I’ve read that one before as well! So technically I had already encountered maybe 60% of this book before. But for me, it was worth it for the other 40%. I love when King talks about his writing process or his books, and there’s a few little speeches or Q&As included in here that just had me fangirling to the max. There was also a novella titled The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet which was pretty good, if a little long-winded, and weirdly reminded me of the novella Rat in If It Bleeds. But hey, guess what, during my research I found that it’s actually in Skeleton Crew - one of the few Kings I haven’t read yet! But Secret Windows is worth it for the typical King anecdotes. There’s an essay entitled “Great Hookers I Have Known” where he discusses great opening lines. He mentions that all of his kids are writers, but he thinks Joe will grow up to be the one who makes a living from it, and I enjoyed seeing that that was his prediction, even back in 1987 (this year is my approximation as Owen was 10 years old!) Not one I’d recommend for a casual King fan, but worth a place on any die-hard Constant Reader’s shelf. 3.5 stars.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kandice

    I loved this! Not only because it was an amazing find, but because Stephen King’s forwords, afterwords and addresses to us, his “Constant Readers” are sometimes what I look forward to as much as his newest novel, but because I hadn’t even known some of these existed until I happened upon this in the local used book shop. I never tire of “Uncle Stevie’s” speeches, lectures, essays and letters. The man can spin a yarn, tell a tale and move my heart! Every single time.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    This collection of various bits of Stephen King's writing offer up some of his writing advice. Included are a few short stories - the first being one of his stories written as a child, which was a heartening piece to read because you realize that yes, he wrote just as badly as I did back when I was that age. The second was "The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet," which I originally read in Skeleton Crew, and is an interesting commentary on writing and writers and madness in general. The third was "I This collection of various bits of Stephen King's writing offer up some of his writing advice. Included are a few short stories - the first being one of his stories written as a child, which was a heartening piece to read because you realize that yes, he wrote just as badly as I did back when I was that age. The second was "The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet," which I originally read in Skeleton Crew, and is an interesting commentary on writing and writers and madness in general. The third was "In the Deathroom," which I read as part of Everything's Eventual: 14 Dark Tales, which had very little to do with writing and may have been included as being "the first time in print!" (it was originally released as part of an audiobook collection) rather than anything to do with the craft of writing, which unfortunately made it a poor fit for this collection. Also included were over 100 pages from Danse Macabre, which felt just as long to read as they did the first time around (I found that book super boring). My favorite bits were the introductions to other books and the transcribed talks he did at various venues. Because these are all pulled together from various sources, I found that it became a little repetitive (King offers the comparison of English teachers being like Pavlov's dogs more than once, and also relays his quip answer to the question, "Where do you get your ideas?" as "Utica" more than once). Of course, I've already read his On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, and that really is the best writing book I've ever read, so this could never measure up to that. Still, it's been a while since I read anything of his and it was a nice reminder of his immense talent. I have to say, I've had this book sitting on my shelf for about eight years now, given to me by a co-worker's husband who is an avid collector, and I breathed a huge sigh of relief that I can now finally return it. I wonder if he remembers that I borrowed it...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Debra

    This companion book to On Writing has a great introduction by Peter Straub, King speeches and interviews, his "Horror Fiction" piece from Danse Macabre, lots of discussion about other authors and books of note, and much more. Again, it is so thoroughly enjoyable to "listen" to King talk about what he loves doing best. Enjoy! This companion book to On Writing has a great introduction by Peter Straub, King speeches and interviews, his "Horror Fiction" piece from Danse Macabre, lots of discussion about other authors and books of note, and much more. Again, it is so thoroughly enjoyable to "listen" to King talk about what he loves doing best. Enjoy!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rick

    While I did enjoy this collection, it was not nearly as insightful or engrossing as King's On Writing, still there are some wonderful things in here. This is certainly a volume that anyone who is one of the author's Constant Readers should have on their shelf. While I did enjoy this collection, it was not nearly as insightful or engrossing as King's On Writing, still there are some wonderful things in here. This is certainly a volume that anyone who is one of the author's Constant Readers should have on their shelf.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jack

    This book is marketed as a companion to King's spectacular craft memoir On Writing. That is being way too generous. This particular book-of-the-month club exclusive is by no means up to that standard. This is a collection of random pieces, most of which can be found elsewhere: the foreword to Night Shift, the "Horror Fiction" chapter from Danse Macabre, various notes to introduce books-of-the-month, introductions for The Girl Next Door and The Collectors, interviews, and other such things. There This book is marketed as a companion to King's spectacular craft memoir On Writing. That is being way too generous. This particular book-of-the-month club exclusive is by no means up to that standard. This is a collection of random pieces, most of which can be found elsewhere: the foreword to Night Shift, the "Horror Fiction" chapter from Danse Macabre, various notes to introduce books-of-the-month, introductions for The Girl Next Door and The Collectors, interviews, and other such things. There are a few original items, a couple of short stories ("The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet" is much stronger than "In the Deathroom"), and a couple of essays. If you are a Stephen King fan, the book is worth reading for a bit of an insight into King's life and his process. It is particularly interesting to read about Joe and Owen in light of what they have done since this book was published. It's fun to read a couple of stories from a very young Stephen writing for his brother's neighborhood paper. That being said, if you are looking for something the caliber of On Writing, I'll tell you right now that it isn't here. The closest thing might be the Introduction by Peter Straub, which attempts to analyze King's ability to connect with readers. Pick it up if you are interested, but understand it is more like the DVD extras on a movie or the liner notes of an album, only as fulfilling as your own interest level.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Robert Beveridge

    Stephen King, On Writing/Secret Windows (Scribner's, 2000 and BOMC, 2000) [originally posted 6Nov2000] "Most of the things you find in books on writing are bullshit." How can you not like a book on writing that begins so endearingly? Shortly after, King makes a promise to keep the book as short as possible, and for King, he does an admirable job (it weighs in under 300 pages, a short story for this guy). Capitalizing on the publication of On Writing, Book of the Month Club (who are the behind-the-s Stephen King, On Writing/Secret Windows (Scribner's, 2000 and BOMC, 2000) [originally posted 6Nov2000] "Most of the things you find in books on writing are bullshit." How can you not like a book on writing that begins so endearingly? Shortly after, King makes a promise to keep the book as short as possible, and for King, he does an admirable job (it weighs in under 300 pages, a short story for this guy). Capitalizing on the publication of On Writing, Book of the Month Club (who are the behind-the-scenes orchestrators of the Stephen King Book Club) contracted with the man to release a companion volume to it called Secret Windows as well. Much of what King writes in On Writing is simple common sense ("the adverb is not your friend..."), but some of it flies in the face of conventional wisdom. King is a situational writer as opposed to a plotter, and the vast majority of "how to write your novel in days"-style writers' manuals are written by plotters. This alone makes the book valuable to the struggling author; when everyone's told you one thing, and it doesn't work for you, hearing someone validate another way to do things is sometimes the most important thing that can happen to you. And King delivers his advice in simple, straightforward prose, providing examples when necessary (at the very end, he gives us the opening paragraphs of Blood and Smoke's "1408," both in rough and finished drafts, and it's probably the best example of revision I've seen in a how-to-write book). Good, solid stuff, probably the best I've read in recent years, since Natalie Goldberg's first two books. But even that isn't what makes this book shine. We're all aware that much of what separates great writers from run-of-the-mill hacks is the ability to take one's own events and make mincemeat of them on the page. The first hundred pages of this volume are an encapsulated autobiography of King. It's impressionist, deadpan, as minimal as it can be to give us an idea of where all these books came from (no, he doesn't really get his ideas in Utica). And while all of King's writing is marked with a particular kind of honesty that resonates with the average reader, these hundred pages stand out. If it's possible to be more than completely honest, he's done it. Secret Windows is a compilation. Most of it's been previously published. There are a few things here that bear re-reading, a few unpublished (and perhaps should have remained that way, such as the early stuff from his brother's homemade newspaper), and one of King's early attempts at a one-voice tale, a style he mastered in Dolores Claiborne, called "The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet." I can't remember whether this made it into Nightmares and Dreamscapes or not (can't find a full listing of N&D's contents online) [ed. note 2013: no], but if not, this story alone, about an editor's slow descent into alcoholic madness, with its catalyst a story by an already-insane writer, is worth the price of admission. It is not an easily-forgotten piece of work. Taken together, the two make a good pair: a book on how to write and a collection of fiction, nonfiction, and interviews dealing with the craft of writing. The average non-writing Stephen King fan may be left cold, but for the writer (or the writer wannabe who's never attempted; if you liked Misery better than most King novels, you qualify), they're gold nuggets in the river. On Writing: **** Secret Windows: *** ½

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dylan Perry

    When I showed my dad the copy of Blockade Billy I'd bought when it first came out, this little $14 hardcover consisting of two short stories, he snorted and said, "That looks like a cleaning-out-the-drawer kind of book." Secret Windows is the same. This is a collection more for the King completionist than the aspiring writer looking for good advice. Peter Straub calls it a companion book to On Writing in the introduction, and this terribly misleading. There was no eureka moment like I had reading When I showed my dad the copy of Blockade Billy I'd bought when it first came out, this little $14 hardcover consisting of two short stories, he snorted and said, "That looks like a cleaning-out-the-drawer kind of book." Secret Windows is the same. This is a collection more for the King completionist than the aspiring writer looking for good advice. Peter Straub calls it a companion book to On Writing in the introduction, and this terribly misleading. There was no eureka moment like I had reading On Writing. This is a collection of a few essays, padded out with introduction from other books and interviews from events King has spoken at. Over a 100 pages of this is from a section of Danse Macabre, which I skipped because I want to read that book in its entirety and not a chunk of it here and the rest later. And most of the interviews I had already read in another nonfiction book Bare Bones: Conversations with Stephen King. Skipping those and the 100 pages of Danse Macabre left little new content, though I mostly enjoyed what litter there was. Secret Windows was not a bad book, per se. As a King collector, I'm happy to have it on my shelves, but I can't help but feel somewhat disappointed. If you haven't read the interviews or the transcribed talks, you'll probably get more out of this than I did. 3/5

  9. 4 out of 5

    Neilie J

    As usual, this was totally worth reading. Some of it I'd already heard/read before, but it was fun to read again because King is always so entertaining. His wry humor always gets me even if sometimes I wonder how genuine his humility is. Clearly, he's very intelligent, but often plays himself off in an "aw shucks" kind of way. There were a couple of short stories I'd never read that were good fun, and I enjoyed the forward by King's friend and co-author, Peter Straub. As usual, this was totally worth reading. Some of it I'd already heard/read before, but it was fun to read again because King is always so entertaining. His wry humor always gets me even if sometimes I wonder how genuine his humility is. Clearly, he's very intelligent, but often plays himself off in an "aw shucks" kind of way. There were a couple of short stories I'd never read that were good fun, and I enjoyed the forward by King's friend and co-author, Peter Straub.

  10. 4 out of 5

    nobody

    This is for serious King fans only. That said, its a great book for a serious King fan to have. There were some great fiction and nonfiction pieces here, my only issue is I wish they would have put more hard to find stuff in here rather then reprint a quarter of Danse Macabe

  11. 4 out of 5

    MollyRN

    OMG! Book Club at a cabin....fabulous setting! Then we watched the movie with Johnny Depp. Perfection!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kelly D.

    Funny enough, I'm not a big Stephen King fan, but I really like his books about writing lol Funny enough, I'm not a big Stephen King fan, but I really like his books about writing lol

  13. 5 out of 5

    Cail

    So far, I've read "On Becoming a Brand Name Writer" which is incredibly interesting to read right after On Writing, as King gets into very granular detail on the sale of his first two books (I had to Google the first paperback cover of 'Salem's Lot based on his story of getting the cover reveal) Also interesting to note that Warner Bros asked that his original title "The Shine" be re-named to "The Shining." He has sharper edges to him in this piece, his descriptions of people rather mean-spirite So far, I've read "On Becoming a Brand Name Writer" which is incredibly interesting to read right after On Writing, as King gets into very granular detail on the sale of his first two books (I had to Google the first paperback cover of 'Salem's Lot based on his story of getting the cover reveal) Also interesting to note that Warner Bros asked that his original title "The Shine" be re-named to "The Shining." He has sharper edges to him in this piece, his descriptions of people rather mean-spirited at times. He's also only five years into his publishing career and still drinking hard. Strange to time-travel to younger Steve - he was younger than me when he wrote this (about 33, I reckon). Also, my copy seems almost new (the spine gives off a nice crack when opened) but it looks like a book-shipper dumped his cuppa tea on the pages. I gave the dustjacket a scrub and it's right as rain. I also read the "Horror Fiction" excerpt from Danse Macabre, which I had a great time with this past evening. I'm kicking myself for selling my old copy the book, which (when I was 25) I assumed I wouldn't be gung-ho enough on horror to read King's whole treatise on the genre. I found his deep-dive into horror fiction fascinating. I read his deep-dives on Matheson, Bradbury, Ramsey Campbell, James Herbert and Harlan Ellison. It was a treat to nerd-out with King on Something Wicked This Way Comes an SUPER timely with Campbell, who I just read recently in a short-story collection and for the life of me, I cannot find his books anywhere. Now I'm debating reading all of Danse Macabre, but I'd wager I read the best chapter tonight. I will continue to pick this up and read excerpts — great hangs with Uncle Steve.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lori Schiele

    This is a rare mixture of fiction and non-fiction--an exclusive anthology of hard-to-find pieces of non-fiction, interviews, short stories, unpublished fiction and articles about writing by the great "King of the Macabre", Stephen King. As is written on the jacket cover: this book "captures the author's mind in action--spontaneous, subversive, quirky, yet morally and ethically serious." Unfortunately, I wasn't impressed by it. Whereas I loved his book, "On Writing", this seemed too much of a mish This is a rare mixture of fiction and non-fiction--an exclusive anthology of hard-to-find pieces of non-fiction, interviews, short stories, unpublished fiction and articles about writing by the great "King of the Macabre", Stephen King. As is written on the jacket cover: this book "captures the author's mind in action--spontaneous, subversive, quirky, yet morally and ethically serious." Unfortunately, I wasn't impressed by it. Whereas I loved his book, "On Writing", this seemed too much of a mishmash of vaguely related things. He spent half of the book talking about writers from the 50s, 60s and 70s--some familiar like Bradbury and Vonnegut, and others that, at least I had never heard of--Shirley Jackson, Ira Levin, Robert Cornier... He spent 17 pages discussing Bradbury's "Something Wicked This Way Comes" and then 18 pages on an author named Harlan Ellison who King even admits isn't truly a horror writer at all... His constant talk of Apollonian versus Dionysian conflict in the different stories he discusses gets to be too repetitive--and it means nothing if you don't understand the reference (fortunately, I do. If you don't, I suppose you can Google it, if you want). And it takes until page 320 before King actually starts to discuss himself through various interviews he's given over the years, and responds to a number of questions he has received from fans. But much of the things he tells you can be found in the "On Writing" book which is much better written and much more informative--at least for an author like myself. Finally, at the end, the book includes two original short stories not found in any other books. One was wonderfully King, the other not so much. So, if you are a Stephen King fan and *need* to have every single thing he has ever written, then I guess you will want to try and get a hold of this. But if you are just a casual reader, or a budding author hoping for insight (stick with "On Writing"), then I wouldn't bother.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    I recently bought both this and King's "On Writing," and I have a feeling that I'll enjoy the latter a lot more. King has a personable style that I've always liked, and I'm not even a big King reader. I've read Misery, the first two Dark Tower books, The Stand, and Under the Dome, and no matter the character, it felt like I knew them and they knew me. I gave it two stars because while it's very approachable, I felt that I got the gist of the lessons on writing within the first few chapters. Whic I recently bought both this and King's "On Writing," and I have a feeling that I'll enjoy the latter a lot more. King has a personable style that I've always liked, and I'm not even a big King reader. I've read Misery, the first two Dark Tower books, The Stand, and Under the Dome, and no matter the character, it felt like I knew them and they knew me. I gave it two stars because while it's very approachable, I felt that I got the gist of the lessons on writing within the first few chapters. Which makes sense: many of the chapters cover the same the ground, and in the interviews, many of the questions are the same. In particular, "The Horror Market Writer and the Ten Bears" and "On Becoming a Brand Name" should be required reading for anyone interested in creative writing. If you're a big King fan, I think you'll enjoy it very, very much.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ricky McConnell

    I enjoyed this book. If you are a big Stephen King fan you will enjoy this book. He mentions many of the Authors he has read, and inspired his writing. You learn some of the same things from his book titled On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, but there are many things in this book that were not in that book. Some parts of the book were a slow read to me, but overall it was interesting to hear his point of view on things, and read some of the interviews he has given over the years. He tells severa I enjoyed this book. If you are a big Stephen King fan you will enjoy this book. He mentions many of the Authors he has read, and inspired his writing. You learn some of the same things from his book titled On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, but there are many things in this book that were not in that book. Some parts of the book were a slow read to me, but overall it was interesting to hear his point of view on things, and read some of the interviews he has given over the years. He tells several stories from his travels and experiences. The book will also give you a long list of books and Authors to read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Monical

    I actually picked this book up looking for the updated version of "On Writing." I was amazed at how scary this book was since it was supposed to be about writing! I guess I got flashbacks of the chills from from "Salem's Lot" and other early King books. I found a couple chapters boring (e.g., the looooong chapter reviewing other horror books) but in general this was a good, if scary, read. I also recommend "On Writing." Both books reveal that King is really compelled to write rather than inspire I actually picked this book up looking for the updated version of "On Writing." I was amazed at how scary this book was since it was supposed to be about writing! I guess I got flashbacks of the chills from from "Salem's Lot" and other early King books. I found a couple chapters boring (e.g., the looooong chapter reviewing other horror books) but in general this was a good, if scary, read. I also recommend "On Writing." Both books reveal that King is really compelled to write rather than inspired to write, perhaps like music composers have to compose (how else could you explain a deaf Beethoven writing some of his best work?)

  18. 4 out of 5

    Bryan Whitehead

    The Book of the Month Club put this volume together to accompany the release of Stephen King’s On Writing. Though the actual book itself is excellent, this supplement is hit and miss. Longtime fans will likely have already read many of the excerpts and short stories included herein. The speech transcripts were new to me, but they tended to be repetitive and poorly edited in spots. Overall this is a good resource for aspiring writers, but it’s more of a money-making add-on for the publisher than The Book of the Month Club put this volume together to accompany the release of Stephen King’s On Writing. Though the actual book itself is excellent, this supplement is hit and miss. Longtime fans will likely have already read many of the excerpts and short stories included herein. The speech transcripts were new to me, but they tended to be repetitive and poorly edited in spots. Overall this is a good resource for aspiring writers, but it’s more of a money-making add-on for the publisher than a serious attempt to collect the author’s wit and wisdom.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    I can’t help but feel just slightly disappointed that so much of this collection - at least half - is made up of pieces that have already been published elsewhere, and that I’ve already read. However, King’s voice when he writes nonfiction, when he’s speaking to us as the Constant Reader, is special. This volume helps build a more comprehensive image of the person behind the stories, the perfect balance he has struck between being personable as a household name while letting the stories speak fo I can’t help but feel just slightly disappointed that so much of this collection - at least half - is made up of pieces that have already been published elsewhere, and that I’ve already read. However, King’s voice when he writes nonfiction, when he’s speaking to us as the Constant Reader, is special. This volume helps build a more comprehensive image of the person behind the stories, the perfect balance he has struck between being personable as a household name while letting the stories speak for themselves.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Aaron White

    King is nice an coherent, and things he writes are always good. But this is just a couple of stories, that are printed in his books elsewhere, a huge chunk is a chapter from another of his books, a couple of forwards for other books that I haven't read; whats left is a couple of articles and interviews - that were good, but not that interesting and tended to repeat themselves. King is nice an coherent, and things he writes are always good. But this is just a couple of stories, that are printed in his books elsewhere, a huge chunk is a chapter from another of his books, a couple of forwards for other books that I haven't read; whats left is a couple of articles and interviews - that were good, but not that interesting and tended to repeat themselves.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Brent

    I think King could have never written a word of fiction and he'd still be one of the best writers out there. His nonfiction of all types, on display in this book, is incredible. I particularly liked the essay he wrote about books for Seventeen magazine. Several one liners that I'm gonna steal–I mean that I admire and definitely won't use. I think King could have never written a word of fiction and he'd still be one of the best writers out there. His nonfiction of all types, on display in this book, is incredible. I particularly liked the essay he wrote about books for Seventeen magazine. Several one liners that I'm gonna steal–I mean that I admire and definitely won't use.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Teresa

    Good overall although On Writing was much more engrossing. I’ve had this book for years and couldn’t bring myself to read it until recently. The chapter on horror fiction was very long and a little hard to get through but it gave me ideas for other good books to read.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    I love picking King's brain. Interesting and entertaining as ever. I blew right through this because I had read many of the essays, forewords, and shorts elsewhere. I love picking King's brain. Interesting and entertaining as ever. I blew right through this because I had read many of the essays, forewords, and shorts elsewhere.

  24. 4 out of 5

    R.L. Bailey

    A big chunk (some 160 pages) comes from Danse Macabre) and the majority of it has been repeated in other intros, but there are great bits of wisdom here.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jonah

    A neat companion to On Writing. I enjoyed it.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

    Here and there helpful bits to improve ones writing, most advise addresses horror genre; of course it’s Steven King

  27. 4 out of 5

    Steven Belanger

    Described as "a companion book to On Writing," this volume reads more as a long interview with King, done over maybe 10 to 12 years, with a couple of never-before-seen stories thrown in. It is worth your time. I put off reading this for awhile because I thought it was, frankly, a cheap attempt to cash-in on his On Writing success. But that didn't turn out to be the case. This book is actually much different. On Writing is, as its title says, at least mostly memoir. Part writing tutorial, part mem Described as "a companion book to On Writing," this volume reads more as a long interview with King, done over maybe 10 to 12 years, with a couple of never-before-seen stories thrown in. It is worth your time. I put off reading this for awhile because I thought it was, frankly, a cheap attempt to cash-in on his On Writing success. But that didn't turn out to be the case. This book is actually much different. On Writing is, as its title says, at least mostly memoir. Part writing tutorial, part memoir, is how I speak of it. But Secret Windows is a book of questions King doesn't answer in On Writing, and as such is, as I said, more of a long interview, over 10-12 years, on a variety of topics--much of them, surprisingly, not about writing, per se. This book is more for writers, in some ways, than On Writing is. While that book is mostly memoir and sometimes a writing primer, this one is about the more minute parts of the business. Did you know that King got an agent to hawk his novels and short stories? I didn't, because agents don't sell short stories anymore--well, unless you're a Stephen King level writer, that is. Then they'll be more than happy to sell your underwear or shopping list, just to keep you happy--and their client. But for you and me, they won't sell our short stories today. We'd have to do that for ourselves. (I know, because I do.) Did you know that King sent out a query to agents before he'd finished his manuscript for Carrie? I didn't, because that's a huge no-no today--and must've been then, too. Because writers, like everyone else, won't finish something when they say they will, and agents know this. So they all say--today and, I'm sure, then--that you have to finish the manuscript, perfect it, and then solicit them. King was more ballsy than that. He pitched them when he was almost done with his manuscript--for Carrie, I think--and his selling point was the huge list--I'm talking 20 or more here--of short stories he'd sold and been paid well for in just two years. At $200 per story, times 20 stories--that's $400. 10% of that is $40, so 15% of that is $60. Many agents in 1974 would take $60 to send out a couple of quick letters to publishers about a client's work. It would take them about an hour, maybe. $60 p/h in 1974 would sound good. The bottom line is: King essentially was ballsy enough to say to these prospective agents: "Even with my short story sales, I can make money for you." And then, more importantly, he finished his novel manuscript, just as he said he would. That's good business, and that turns on agents, too. So what's to be learned from this? Be ballsy. But also be productive, so you have something to be ballsy about. And then, be good at the business, and finish the manuscript when you say you will. Lost in all the millions Stephen King makes is that he has always produced, even pre-Carrie, and at a very high level of both quality (ie--it'll sell) and production. In other words, he's always been bankable, and very good at the business. You won't learn this kind of thing from On Writing. You will from Secret Windows. And if you dream of a writing career like I do, it's worth your time.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    This is apparently the companion guide to On Writing, Stephen King's hybrid of autobiography and instruction manual. It contains examples of Stephen King's fictional work as well as essays on the craft of writing, on being a writer, and on the horror genre in general. What I found interesting is King's comments on the writing business. He gives details that most people over look like the financial aspect, the paperback vs. hardback dynamic. His essays also show how smart he is. I mean, obviously This is apparently the companion guide to On Writing, Stephen King's hybrid of autobiography and instruction manual. It contains examples of Stephen King's fictional work as well as essays on the craft of writing, on being a writer, and on the horror genre in general. What I found interesting is King's comments on the writing business. He gives details that most people over look like the financial aspect, the paperback vs. hardback dynamic. His essays also show how smart he is. I mean, obviously he's brilliant otherwise he would not write so well, but I think people often see him as a sort of sensationalist. Too often, people reduce his work to his gimmicks, his cleverness with plot twists and red herrings. He even talks about being profiled as a "horror writer." I mean, maybe this is one of those things where his works are going to be analyzed seriously post-humously in a Shelley-esque sort of way, but it is also too easy to forget that our preconceived image of a horror writer is not Stephen King's real personality. He shows a sort of thorough discernment when he dissects other writers and some of his own work, making thoughtful comments that make me think I should write a thesis on these works. Maybe it's the English teacher in him, I think all writers have a little bit of that, but you just know that this is the guy you want in your book club. He's the guy that spurs ideas and responses. So this book reveals a little bit more of the man behind the mask as well as some of the secrets to maneuvering in the publication industry. It has a sort of bulky foreword from Peter Straub and doesn't have a coherent connection between any of the pieces, really. Sort of like someone just took some Stephen King stuff that all related to the same thing, put them in order of publication(I think, don't quote me on this), and stapled them together. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but it does make it a little bit harder to read, everything just seems a little bit drier.

  29. 4 out of 5

    L.

    SECRET WINDOWS is set up as a book of the month club companion piece to King's bestselling memoir/how-to guide ON WRITING. Apart from a very heartfelt ode in the introduction by King's fellow master of horror and collaborator Straub it contains various essays and short works of fiction dedicated to the art of writing. The dates of the pieces in the collection range from when Stephen was a wee lad of 12 writing for his brother's paper to the time of publication. There are some well known pieces, SECRET WINDOWS is set up as a book of the month club companion piece to King's bestselling memoir/how-to guide ON WRITING. Apart from a very heartfelt ode in the introduction by King's fellow master of horror and collaborator Straub it contains various essays and short works of fiction dedicated to the art of writing. The dates of the pieces in the collection range from when Stephen was a wee lad of 12 writing for his brother's paper to the time of publication. There are some well known pieces, such as short stories that have later been published in his Everything's Eventual anthology, and an excerpt from his other well-known non-fiction piece Danse Macabre to some real hidden gems that have never been published before. One of these gems is a short talk/essay on banned books. Another is great opening lines that are favourite of King's. In Secret Windows, just like in his fiction King's integrity shines through; he claims not to be the best novelist around even if he sells better than some but always promises to deliver the best story he knows how to write. His humour is evident in these pages even when it is self-deprecating and as a reader his same conversational tone that soaks his other works is present here as well. Danse Macabre was not the perfect book, On Writing is not the perfect book and no even Secret Windows is not the perfect book but it is darn close especially when read in conjunction with On Writing.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Roman Kurys

    This book is a fantastic supplement to King's "On Writing". A mix of short stories and his speeches over the years at different conventions gives a unique look inside the brain of one of our time's not successful authors. You can see why yourself by just starting to read. I am not normally a short story reader, as you can easily see by my reading history here. Novel is my thing, I enjoy the slower pace, time to get to know places, people, possibility of continuations. A short story ordinarily wou This book is a fantastic supplement to King's "On Writing". A mix of short stories and his speeches over the years at different conventions gives a unique look inside the brain of one of our time's not successful authors. You can see why yourself by just starting to read. I am not normally a short story reader, as you can easily see by my reading history here. Novel is my thing, I enjoy the slower pace, time to get to know places, people, possibility of continuations. A short story ordinarily would not be appealing to me, it bores me, there is just not enough space to me to care about the protagonist. Not the case with King, I was on the edge of my seat every time, so it was nice to see how a genius thinks. I gave up trying to emulate a long time ago, just enjoyed the ride :) You should too! Roman

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