Stephen Edwin King (born September 21, 1947) is an American author of over 200 stories including over 50 bestselling horror and fantasy novels. King was the 2003 recipient of The National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. King evinces a thorough knowledge of the horror genre, as shown in his nonfiction book Danse Macabre, which chronicles several decades of notable works in both literature and cinema. He has also written stories outside the horror genre, including the novella collection Different Seasons, The Green Mile, The Eyes of the Dragon, Hearts in Atlantis and his magnum opus, The Dark Tower series. In the past, Stephen King has written under the pen names Richard Bachman and (once) John Swithen.When King was two years old, his father, Donald Edwin King, deserted his family. His mother, Nellie Ruth Pillsbury, raised King and his adopted older brother David by herself, sometimes under great financial strain. The family moved to Ruth's home town of Durham, Maine, but also spent brief periods in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Stratford, Connecticut. As a child, King witnessed a gruesome accident — one of his friends was caught on a railway track and struck by a train. While this may have inspired King's dark, disturbing creations, King himself dismisses the idea. King attended Durham Elementary School and Lisbon Falls High School. As a young boy, King was an avid reader of EC's horror comics including Tales from the Crypt, which provided the genesis for his love of horror. His screenplay for Creepshow would later play tribute to the comics. When in school, he wrote stories based on movies he had seen, copying them with a mimeo machine his brother used to publish a newspaper, Dave's Rag, to which King contributed. King sold the stories to friends, but his teachers disapproved and forced him to return his profits. His first published story was "In a Half-World of Terror" (retitled from "I Was a Teen-Age Grave-robber"), published in a horror fanzine issued by Mike Garrett of Birmingham, Alabama. From 1966 to 1971, King studied English at the University of Maine at Orono, where he wrote a column entitled "King's Garbage Truck" for the student newspaper, the Maine Campus. He met Tabitha Spruce there; they married in 1971. The campus period in his life is readily evident in the second part of Hearts in Atlantis, and the odd jobs he took on to pay for his studies, including one at an industrial laundry, would later inspire stories such as "The Mangler" and the novel Roadwork (as Richard Bachman). After receiving a Bachelor of Arts in English and a certificate to teach high school, King taught English at Hampden Academy in Hampden, Maine. He and his family lived in a trailer, and he wrote short stories, most for men's magazines, to help make ends meet. As Carrie's introduction relates, if one of his kids got a cold, Tabitha would joke, "Come on, Steve, think of a monster." King also developed a drinking problem, which would stay with him for over a decade. Many of King's novels and short stories have been made into major motion pictures or TV movies and miniseries. Unlike some authors, King is untroubled by movies based on his works differing from the original work. He has contrasted his books and its film adaptations as "apples and oranges; both delicious, but very different." The exception to this is The Shining, which King criticized when it was released in 1980; and The Lawnmower Man (he sued to have his name removed from the credits). King seems to have gained greater appreciation for Kubrick's The Shining over the years. Kubrick had knocked the original novel in an interview as not "literary," having its merits exclusively in the plot. This understandably may have upset King. As a film, The Lawnmower Man bore no resemblance whatsoever to King's original short story. King's name was used solely as a faux-brand. King made his feature film acting debut in Creepshow, playing Jordy Verrill, a backwoods redneck who, after touching a fallen meteor in hopes of selling it, grows moss all over his body. He has since made cameos in several adaptations of his works. He appeared in Pet Sematary as a minister at a funeral, in Rose Red as a pizza deliveryman, in The Stand as "Teddy Wieszack," in the Shining miniseries as band member Gage Creed and in The Langoliers as Tom Holby. He has also appeared in The Golden Years, in Chappelle's Show and, along with fellow author Amy Tan, on The Simpsons as himself. After a private screening of the film Stand By Me (which was an adaptation of his novella The Body), King told director Rob Reiner that it was the best film adaptation of any of his works up to that point. He said it was actually better than his original novella. King was also very happy with the job Frank Darabont did with The Green Mile. King produced and and acted in a miniseries, Kingdom Hospital, which is based on the Danish miniseries Riget by Lars von Trier. He also co-wrote The X-Files season 5 episode "Chinga" with the creator of the series Chris Carter. He is rumored to have stored in his house many of the film props from the numerous movies adapted from his original books, including the car used in Christine and a life-sized model of Barlow the Vampire from 'Salem's Lot. Since 1977, King has granted permission to student filmmakers to make adaptations of his short stories for one dollar (see Dollar Baby). King is friends with film director George Romero, to whom he partly dedicated his book Cell, and wrote a tribute about the filmmaker in Entertainment Weekly for his pop culture column, as well as an essay for the Elite DVD version of Night of the Living Dead. Romero is rumored to be directing the adaptations of King's novels The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon and From a Buick 8.