These Places Helped Inspire Stephen King Novels


Standout horror writer Stephen King continues to remain relevant more than 30 years after his debut novel "Carrie."

The "King of Horror" introduced his newest book, "End of Watch," in June to conclude the tense "Mercedes Killer" trilogy. Audiences were also recently introduced to "Cell," the film adaptation of King's 2006 book of the same name.

The inspiration to write "Cell," a story about humans being mutated into zombie-like creatures by cell phone waves, came after King observed mankind's inability to separate from its personal devices while he strolled the New York City streets. However, the book and subsequent film were set in Boston.

Here are other inspirations behind five of King's most acclaimed works:

"IT" (1986)

An iconic tale about seven adults forced to confront their childhood past and the evil creature that once haunted them, "IT" was actually written based on King's experiences at three different places, according to the author. King ultimately credits his hometown of Bangor, Maine, for inspiring the book's fictional setting of Derry, Maine.

But it was Boulder, Colorado, where he actually began writing "IT." A trip over a "humped and oddly quaint" wooden bridge spooked King into recalling tales of trolls that occupied underpasses. That, of course, led to the idea of a creepy clown in the city sewer system.

Faint childhood memories of the library in Stratford, Connecticut, also steered King into writing from the perspective of adults who relive the nightmare.

"The Stand" (1977)

During King's brief stint in Boulder, he was introduced to the 1968 Dugway Sheep Incident in Dugway Proving Ground, Utah, where 6,000 sheep were killed by an accidental U.S. Army chemical release. The devastating event helped King realize the apocalyptic backdrop for "The Stand."

The deadly flu in "The Stand" that wipes out most of Earth's population is actually a precursor for a battle between good and evil. The book's protagonists eventually convene in Boulder, bringing the inspiration for the book full circle.

"The Shining" (1977)

Perhaps the best-known King origin story, "The Shining" was inspired following the author's stay at The (supposedly haunted) Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. The hotel is located just outside the entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park, and the book was conveniently set at a remote Colorado Rockies hotel.

Not to be confused with Timberline Lodge in Oregon, where director Stanley Kubrick filmed exterior shots of the 1980 film adaptation of "The Shining," The Stanley Hotel continues to thrive as an upscale getaway and horror film festival headquarters.

"Pet Sematary" (1983)

While living in rural Orrington, Maine, a King family cat was tragically killed on a busy highway, according to the author. The untimely feline passing came amid a string of animal deaths along the corridor, prompting local children to informally develop a nearby pet cemetery.

King decided to bury his cat among the other animal victims, and only a matter of days later he concocted the idea of a possessed "Pet Sematary."

"Cujo" (1981)

Much of King's stories take place in made-up Maine cities, including "Cujo," a book about a rabid 200-pound St. Bernard dog that terrorizes residents of fictional Castle Rock. The story is actually based on King's own experience with an auto mechanic's questionable canine outside of Bridgton, Maine.

Joe Lanane is a freelance travel journalist who also contributes for AJC.com. He has been hooked on Stephen King novels and films all his life. More of his Parachute articles can be found here.