How or Why Some Famous Authors and a Poet Laureate Started Writing

Let’s start right away by examining some famous authors and why they started writing.

Stephen King,

Author of Most Books that Non-Readers will Read

According to Joe Hartlaub, Mainer Stephen King started writing for his aunt when he was nine because she paid him (a quarter). Later, as King would describe in his book “On Writing” and Hartlaub describes in his article, King wrote short stories for extra money when he taught English. He wanted to make the most money per short story and so sold many early stories to men’s magazines. Work experience gave King enough insight into teens’ lives to write Carrie. King often credits his wife Tabitha with supporting and encouraging him to write. In “On Writing”, he also mentions that he writes for Tabitha as an audience, which perhaps explains why his books can hold almost any reader’s attention, because he has an audience in mind.

King is a multi-genre writer and does not just write horror fiction. For example, his non-fiction book, “On Writing” is one of the best books about writing available, not only because he shows how to use reality to create fiction, but also because he inspires writers.

Source: Joe Hartlaub’s article at: http://www.bookreporter.com/authors/au-king-stephen.asp

You can read an excerpt from “On Writing” at:


Ray Bradbury

Author of “The Martian Chronicles” and “A Sound of Thunder”

In a 2004 interview cited below, Ray Bradbury explains that he began writing stories about Mars when he was 12. For Bradbury, what he loved in the beginning became the object of some of his most famous work, especially “The Martian Chronicles”. As Bradbury says, “The important thing is to be in love with something.”

Bradbury’s interview is fascinating, as he explains the relation between science fiction and space exploration. He also discusses how we should have stayed on the moon and used it as a base for further space explorations. Truly, he writes about his passion and for that passion.

In “Ray Bradbury’s Sunny Terrors,” by Jonathan Kirsch, we learn that Bradbury had a carnival worker magically tell him to live forever. According to the article, the carnival worker’s words influenced Bradbury to start writing and not stop. Perhaps writing is living forever . . .

Read Catherine Donaldson-Evan’s 2004 interview with Ray Bradbury at:


Read Jonathan Kirsch’s article on Ray Bradbury at:


Nora Roberts, also known as J.D. Robb

Author of “Northern Lights” and “Origin of Death” as well as many more romance novels and mysteries.

According to article “A Conversation with Nora Roberts” by Claire E. White, Nora Roberts began writing because of “the Blizzard of ’79, two small children, no morning kindergarten, endless games of Candyland and short supply of chocolate. All of these things and events led up to me writing my first book . . . To entertain myself I decided to take one of the stories out of my head and write it down.”

Of course, Roberts had grown up reading romance novels and wrote the type of novel she read. Harlequin rejected her manuscripts for a year before they opened a new line that fit Roberts’ style (American and not British).

You can read Claire E. White’s article on Nora Roberts at:


Roberts’ website is:


Billy Collins

U.S. Poet Laureate 2001-03 (which means that he was re-elected to the position)

In Christina Patterson’s article, “Billy Collins: Laughter in the Dark,” readers learn that Collins wrote his first poem at ten and continued on into graduate school, where he learned and later unlearned the complexity of humorlessness of past poems (imagine T.S. Eliot) and found it cool that he could write a poem about Elvis Presley instead.

Be sure to read the poems in Patterson’s article. I found the one in the upper right column hilarious.

Read Patterson’s British article about Collins at:


Read an interesting interview with Collins and his approach on the importance of accessibility to the reader:


Why do we write? It’s a fascinating question. I agree with many of the above authors. I write, as I’ve explained to someone recently, because I must. Writing is an irresistible temptation: a new DVD to be played, seeds to be planted—a new life to live. Writing is also a necessity: the expression of my soul, my gifts to the world—a way this introvert touches the world. I wrote my first lyrics at 11. At the time, I wanted to write a love song that people all over the world would use to express their latent emotions, so that I could give to others a voice I so often did not have for myself. Also at 11, I began working on magazines and two books, one about an unknown pyramid inspired by a project at school and another about time travel. There’s no doubt Ray Bradbury put the thought there.

Imagine the carnival worker has just told you what he told Ray Bradbury, “You Will Live Forever . . .”

Let’s see if that does for you what it did for Bradbury.



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