James Smythe vs. Stephen King: The Challenge Begins

You must of heard of James Smythe by now. What? You haven’t?! Even though we’ve been banging on and on and on about him? Well, in that case, let us refresh your memory. James Smythe is a fantastic new addition to our brood, and his incredible apocalyptic thriller, The Testimony, is one of our top picks for this year. 
And obviously you will have heard of Stephen King – in fact, in our ‘All the books you shouldn’t read home alone’ article, his name came up again and again. 
Why are we telling you all this? We’ll let James explain…


“My name’s James, and I’m a writer. (I feel a bit like I’m in a self-help group when I tell people that…) I’ve just had a novel called THE TESTIMONY published by Blue Door – it’s an apocalyptic story about the world hearing what they perceive to be the voice of God, told through the testimonies of 26 different characters from every walk of life. Each character brings something different to the table, be they priests, murderers or businessmen, and it’s through their eyes that the reader watches the repercussions of hearing the voice of the deity. And next year, there’s two novels: one from HarperVoyager, called THE EXPLORER (about death and astronauts) and another tentatively titled THE MACHINE from Blue Door again (about post-traumatic stress disorder and memories).

And, because I don’t have enough on my plate with those novels, I’m taking on a personal challenge. I’ve read every single Stephen King book (bar one, which I’ll deal with another time). I read a lot of them as soon as they were released, and I can remember most of them pretty well. But I’ve always fancied re-reading them, maybe getting some insight into his development as a writer. Seeing what he took from novel to novel, and what he left behind. So, the challenge: to read every single book (novels and short-story collections) in chronological order, and write something about them. I want to see what worked and what didn’t, what tropes and themes he takes from book to book, and look at some of world-building he does throughout his different stories. There are seventy published now, and by the time I end this challenge, there will probably be a couple more, knowing him. So, it’s going to be a long haul, but I think I’m up for it.

Every month I’ll write a summary for Killer Reads about how it’s going: what I’ve read, what I thought of them, if the challenge has dragged me down into the sewers with it yet, that sort of thing. The Guardian online will be publishing fortnightly reviews which you can follow here



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