Stephen King offers writing tips to students

Updated 09 December 2012
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Stephen King offers writing tips to students

LOWELL, Massachusetts: Stephen King loves scaring people, but one student at University of Massachusetts Lowell tried to find out Friday what scares him.
“Spiders, snakes ... my mother-in-law,” the writer said with a grin.
The author of international bestselling books including “Carrie” and “The Shining” came to the college to talk with writing students.
English Department professor Andre Dubus III, another bestselling author and an old friend of King’s, shared the stage for about an hour as students asked questions about their craft.
King told the crowd of about 125 students that his goal is to write stories that sizzle with emotion.
“I’m a confrontational writer. I want to be in your face. I want to get into your space. I want to get within kissing distance, hugging distance, choking distance, punching distance. Call it whatever you want. But I want your attention.”
He got that Friday, plus some laughs.
Wearing jeans and a black T-shirt, the 65-year-old writer from Maine peppered his talk with profanity and promised students he was just a regular guy.
He said they shouldn’t be in awe like he was when he was a University of Maine freshman and heard a talk from “Catch-22” author Joseph Heller.
“It’s not like being U2, you know what I’m saying?” King said.
The author told students he knows where he gets his writing ideas about half the time, and his fascination for horror stories didn’t come from childhood trauma.
During his lecture and in an interview later, King also talked about two books he’s finished that will be published in 2013.
The author’s crime novel “Joyland” will be out in paperback in July, followed in September by the book “Doctor Sleep,” a sequel to his thriller “The Shining.”
The story is set in a New Hampshire hospice, where now all-grown-up character Danny Torrance works.
King said he had reservations about writing a sequel, but people always wanted to know more about the little boy from “The Shining.”
“People used to ask me, years later after ‘The Shining,’ what ever happened to that kid? ... I’d say ‘I don’t know.’ But it started to kind of kick around in my brain, you know?“
Because Torrance can read minds, King said he was intrigued by the idea of having the character work in a hospice as someone who helps people cross over from life to death.
The author encouraged students to be people-watchers and pick up on traits that would let them create their own characters.
King also warned them against becoming discouraged about publishers’ rejection slips and said not to use notebooks for story ideas. He said the stuff that’s worth writing stays in your head.
“My method for starting anything is I tell myself the story when I’m laying in bed at night, waiting to go to sleep,” King said.
The no-notebook idea made an impression on sophomore Joshua Beverage, who said later he’d give the method a try. The 19-year-old creative writing major said he’s been reading King’s stories and seeing movies based on them since he was 8.
“I never thought I’d actually be in his presence. That was really big for me,” he said.


Sophomore literature major Chelsea Graham said she was impressed King said it should be up to readers to decide what books are important to them.
“I liked how he said it’s a good book when it sort of takes over your life,” the 19-year-old said.
Dubus, who joined King on another UMass Lowell stage later Friday for a talk before an audience of 3,000, said the earlier lecture meant a lot.
“He gives these students the sense that the university is important, where they are is important, what they’re doing is significant, and that they count,” he said.
But for as much writing advice as King shared with students, the horror master also left them with some mystery.
“I’ve always wondered who I am when I write,” King said, “because once I’m doing it, I’m not in the room with myself.”


Six classic car films to watch as women in Saudi Arabia prepare to take the wheel

Updated 5 min 59 sec ago
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Six classic car films to watch as women in Saudi Arabia prepare to take the wheel

DUBAI: In celebration of women in Saudi Arabia getting behind the wheel on June 24, we take a look at six classic car films — female-driven flicks included — that are guaranteed to get your adrenaline going.
‘The Italian Job’ (1969)
“You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!” It’s an iconic line known the world over, but have you actually sat down to watch this Michael Caine-starring classic? The plot centers on Caine’s character and his crew of gangsters who pull off a dazzling heist while driving a bevy of Mini Coopers. It’s fantastically fun and even inspired a 2003 remake. If it’s your first time, however, we suggest sticking to the original — they don’t build ‘em like they used to.
‘Thelma and Louise’ (1991)
It may have a controversial ending, but many see this film as the high octane, feminist version of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and it is revered in film culture. Directed by Ridley Scott and starring Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon, the film sees the pair flee after they kill a rapist and follows them as they fight until the very end — and meet a very young Brad Pitt on the way.
‘Crossroads’ (2002)
It may have received lukewarm reviews at the time, but this film was loved by teenage girls the world over. The flick stars Britney Spears (alarm bells, anyone?) and tells the story of three childhood friends who rekindle their connection on a cross-country trip.
‘Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby’ (2006)
The humor may be eye-roll inducing, but this film has too many fans to discount. The film pokes fun at NASCAR and sees Will Ferrell play the role of Ricky Bobby, a driver who was at the top of his game but loses it all to a snotty Frenchman.
‘Drive’ (2011)
It’s dark, it’s gritty and best of all it stars Ryan Gosling. He is known for his deadpan, inexpressive face (and oh, what a face) and skillfully portrays a Hollywood stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver and ends up risking it all to protect a woman and her son from vengeful criminals.
‘Baby Driver’ (2017)
You can’t discuss this film without giving special mention to its epic soundtrack — it features everything from James Brown to Beck and will have you wiggling in your seat throughout the movie. Ansel Elgort plays a brilliant young getaway driver with a penchant for seriously good music, stunningly choreographed car chases and the primal desire to escape a mob boss with the girl he loves.