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>Looking over his shoulder

>and not liking what he sees, Stephen King dismisses Stephenie Meyer as not able to “write worth a darn. She’s not very good.”

What do you think possessed the old gas bag? Maybe he doesn’t like the way she spells her name?

In mentioning his “formative influence” on J. K. Rowling and praising her work, King reminds me of what Zinka Milanov allegedly said of Mirella Freni: “she sounds like a young me!”

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. >But, technically she is not a good writer. She can write a compelling, engrossing story, but it reads like fan fiction.

  2. Teacherninja says:

    >Yeah, that was weird. What was he thinking? But even though he’s had his ups and downs his line-by-line writing still beats either of those ladies.

  3. >But it is also humorous that everyone has latched onto what he says about Meyer when he also talks about writers who can be great and then can also suck and he also says James Patterson is a terrible writer.

  4. Roger Sutton says:

    >I dunno, Warnell–I don’t think she is a good writer, either, but a lot of people will say that writing a “compelling, engrossing story” is precisely what good writing is about.

  5. >Maybe he was caught off guard. I was asked about Meyer in a radio interview the other day, and I had to do a very quick mental scan for something nice to say. Of course, my problems with her have more to do with her notions of what constitutes a healthy relationship than the quality of her writing.

  6. >What the &&%#$$#@**??!@! And King CAN write good English prose? NO. He's a dreadful writer in my book, very flat. Meyer is at least transparent in her style.

  7. >My daughter, a Twilight fan, gave it to a college sophomore friend who’d just worked her way through Ulysses. Liz said, “This is the worst thing I’ve ever read and I can’t stop.”

  8. Anonymous says:


    Word, that.

  9. Anonymous says:

    >And Lorrie Lynch. What a suck up.

    Anon 6:11

  10. Roger Sutton says:

    >I think King has been overpraised because of the (relative) gravitas he brought to the horror novel. While I agree with him about Meyer, I’m just surprised he said it–usually he’s just a fountain of blurbissimo for writers good bad and indifferent.

  11. kristin cashore says:

    >Blurbissimo strikes me as an excellent quality for a writer to have — and I, too, am surprised that Stephen King lost his. :o)

  12. Anonymous says:

    >Remember the woman who sued Rowling over the word “muggle?” I think she felt Rowling had learned from her, too. There are a lot of people who’d like to take credit for influencing Rowling.

    I myself am directly responsible for MT Anderson, Melina Marchetta and Neil Gaiman.

    Anon 6:11

  13. jimmyprell says:

    >I haven’t read many of King’s books, but I’ve come to enjoy his pop culture musings in EW magazine. He comments on movies, books, music in a fun, informative, honest, engaging way. So I think it was totally in his bailiwick to comment on the Twilight series. And not for nothing, but he is right (as even you, Roger, seem to concede). He recognizes her ability to plot an exciting story that readers love; he just doesn’t think she’s much of a writer, from a craftsmanship standpoint. To me, it’s similar to the skill in R.L. Stine’s “Goosebumps” series. He has an amazing facility for plot, a genius really, for that thrill of WHAT HAPPENS NEXT that ignites so many readers. But his sentences, his paragraphs, his language? No so great. And guess what? His readers don’t care.

    King was not taking credit for Harry Potter. He’s been generous in his praise. I think “the old gasbag,” as you put it, is simply telling it like it is — and you, Roger, seem to resent his commenting on someone else’s books. I don’t understand the problem. Maybe you just don’t like him?

  14. Roger Sutton says:

    >I called King a gasbag in reference to the generally bloated prose of his novels. As far as his comments on Meyer and Rowling go, I was simply expressing surprise at his lack of diplomacy, and suggested he was tipping his hand by praising one author who has acknowledged his influence and dissing another who had not.

  15. >I don’t suppose it matters much what anybody thinks of her writing.

    Somebody’s reading, somebody’s buying and that must make her publisher very happy, as they laugh (Mahwahaaaa!) all the way to the bank in this dreadful economy.

  16. >Roger,

    Now I see your point. I thought it was Anti-Mormonism at first, but on reflection, I think it’s the twoo love in the content of Meyer’s books that probably set him off. We’re just not allowed to admit that we like that sort of thing in public. It’s for saps, never mind the millions of copies sold.

    What’s silly is that none of the three of them have written anything I would hesitate to use for fire starter if I were stuck on a desert island. I’d eat raw meat for a week before I set fire to Anansi Boys.

  17. jimmyprell says:

    >Roger, point taken. But if you read King’s column in EW, he has gone on record on many, many books, films, CDs. What he loves and what he doesn’t. He’s a pop culture vulture. What you call a lack of diplomacy is, I think, an established writer giving his honest opinion. King strikes me as a voracious reader and who cares a great deal about books.

    Like I said, I enjoy his columns (much to my initial surprise). I’m pretty certain I’ve never read any of his books. I don’t perceive anything sinister in his praise of Rowling compared to Meyer, in regards to his own influence. And again, for my money, he’s absolutely right. For better or worse, King is probably one of the most influential writers of the past 50 years. “The Graveyard,” anyone?

  18. Anonymous says:

    >Maybe he doesn’t like the way she spells her name.

  19. >Being a good storyteller and being a good writer are not the same thing. You can be a terrible writer and a great writer and people will forgive you for a huge number of transgressions.

    I’ve read stuff that is technically great, where the words are put together well but the story will just drive you crazy because it’s meandering or stunted or never gets off the ground. To me that’s less forgivable.

  20. Julie Larios says:

    >No matter what anyone thinks of King’s own writing, his reflections on the writing craft in ON WRITING show him to be a good judge of craftsmanship. Maybe as he ages, he’s just losing the Blurbissimo spirit and prefers to be blunt…? I know as I age, I find it harder and harder to praise mediocrity. “Try harder” – maybe that’s what King wants to tell Stephenie Meyers, because imagine what she could write if she combined a graceful style along with a compelling sense of story?

  21. Eric Phillips says:

    >Has anyone read any of King’s short stories? They are a different animal altogether. Very well written, very non-bloated.

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