Shining Moment For Stephen King

Stephen King 2003/3/19
An award ceremony bound to please many booklovers, while horrifying others, will happen this coming week.

On Wednesday, the National Book Foundation will confer its 2003 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters upon Stephen King, one of the most popular writers of horror and suspense.

While some highbrow critics expressed shock over King's selection, his many fans say that after nearly 30 years in print the honor is, if anything, frighteningly overdue.

His first novel, "Carrie," was a breakthrough success that led in turn to a breathtakingly popular film.

"The Shining" had literary merit enough to be adapted to the screen by no less a director than the late Stanley Kubrick.

Many more Stephen King horror novels became movies over the years such as "Pet Sematary" and "Misery," But there were stories of justice and inspiration, too -- including "The Shawshank Redemption."

With all his current success it's hard to remember that Stephen King once struggled to make ends meet in small-town Maine, writing in part -- but only in part -- out of financial necessity.

"I had to and it buzzed me, too," King told CBS News 60 Minutes. "I wrote in my hotel suite last night. It's the same buzz. That hasn't changed."

And with his latest novel, "Wolves of the Calla," already on the best-seller lists, Stephen King's popularity hasn't changed either. Whatever this week's book award may say about popular taste, it indisputably speaks volumes about Stephen King's imagination, endurance and talent.