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Secret Windows: Essays and Fiction on the Craft of Writing

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  1,096 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
Exclusive Book-of-the-Month-Club anthology of hard to find non-fiction pieces, little known interviews, short stories, and articles about writing for those looking for direction on how to find their own "windows"—or for anyone wishing to be touched by Stephen King's humor and wisdom...

Included in this collection are unpublished early fiction (very early; King was 12 when h
Hardcover, 433 pages
Published October 2000 by Book of the Month Club (first published 2000)
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Dec 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved this! Not only because it was an amazing find, but because Stephen King’s forwords, afterwords and addresses to us, his “Constant Readers” are sometimes what I look forward to as much as his newest novel, but because I hadn’t even known some of these existed until I happened upon this in the local used book shop.

I never tire of “Uncle Stevie’s” speeches, lectures, essays and letters. The man can spin a yarn, tell a tale and move my heart! Every single time.
Feb 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sai-king, non-fiction
This companion book to On Writing has a great introduction by Peter Straub, King speeches and interviews, his "Horror Fiction" piece from Danse Macabre, lots of discussion about other authors and books of note, and much more. Again, it is so thoroughly enjoyable to "listen" to King talk about what he loves doing best. Enjoy!
Apr 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
This collection of various bits of Stephen King's writing offer up some of his writing advice. Included are a few short stories - the first being one of his stories written as a child, which was a heartening piece to read because you realize that yes, he wrote just as badly as I did back when I was that age. The second was "The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet," which I originally read in Skeleton Crew, and is an interesting commentary on writing and writers and madness in general. The third was "I ...more
Aug 01, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is marketed as a companion to King's spectacular craft memoir On Writing. That is being way too generous. This particular book-of-the-month club exclusive is by no means up to that standard. This is a collection of random pieces, most of which can be found elsewhere: the foreword to Night Shift, the "Horror Fiction" chapter from Danse Macabre, various notes to introduce books-of-the-month, introductions for The Girl Next Door and The Collectors, interviews, and other such things.

Robert Beveridge
Stephen King, On Writing/Secret Windows (Scribner's,
2000 and BOMC, 2000)
[originally posted 6Nov2000]

"Most of the things you find in books on writing are bullshit." How can you not like a book on writing that begins so endearingly? Shortly after, King makes a promise to keep the book as short as possible, and for King, he does an admirable job (it weighs in under 300 pages, a short story for this guy). Capitalizing on the publication of On Writing, Book of the Month Club (who are the behind-the-s
Dylan Perry
When I showed my dad the copy of Blockade Billy I'd bought when it first came out, this little $14 hardcover consisting of two short stories, he snorted and said, "That looks like a cleaning-out-the-drawer kind of book."

Secret Windows is the same.

This is a collection more for the King completionist than the aspiring writer looking for good advice. Peter Straub calls it a companion book to On Writing in the introduction, and this terribly misleading. There was no eureka moment like I had reading
Neilie J
Apr 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
As usual, this was totally worth reading. Some of it I'd already heard/read before, but it was fun to read again because King is always so entertaining. His wry humor always gets me even if sometimes I wonder how genuine his humility is. Clearly, he's very intelligent, but often plays himself off in an "aw shucks" kind of way. There were a couple of short stories I'd never read that were good fun, and I enjoyed the forward by King's friend and co-author, Peter Straub.
Aug 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is for serious King fans only. That said, its a great book for a serious King fan to have. There were some great fiction and nonfiction pieces here, my only issue is I wish they would have put more hard to find stuff in here rather then reprint a quarter of Danse Macabe
Sep 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
OMG! Book Club at a cabin....fabulous setting! Then we watched the movie with Johnny Depp. Perfection!
Lori Schiele
This is a rare mixture of fiction and non-fiction--an exclusive anthology of hard-to-find pieces of non-fiction, interviews, short stories, unpublished fiction and articles about writing by the great "King of the Macabre", Stephen King.
As is written on the jacket cover: this book "captures the author's mind in action--spontaneous, subversive, quirky, yet morally and ethically serious."

Unfortunately, I wasn't impressed by it. Whereas I loved his book, "On Writing", this seemed too much of a mish
Kelly Danahy
Mar 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Funny enough, I'm not a big Stephen King fan, but I really like his books about writing lol
Steven Belanger
Mar 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Described as "a companion book to On Writing," this volume reads more as a long interview with King, done over maybe 10 to 12 years, with a couple of never-before-seen stories thrown in. It is worth your time.

I put off reading this for awhile because I thought it was, frankly, a cheap attempt to cash-in on his On Writing success. But that didn't turn out to be the case. This book is actually much different. On Writing is, as its title says, at least mostly memoir. Part writing tutorial, part mem
May 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is apparently the companion guide to On Writing, Stephen King's hybrid of autobiography and instruction manual. It contains examples of Stephen King's fictional work as well as essays on the craft of writing, on being a writer, and on the horror genre in general.

What I found interesting is King's comments on the writing business. He gives details that most people over look like the financial aspect, the paperback vs. hardback dynamic. His essays also show how smart he is. I mean, obviously
May 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
SECRET WINDOWS is set up as a book of the month club companion piece to King's bestselling memoir/how-to guide ON WRITING. Apart from a very heartfelt ode in the introduction by King's fellow master of horror and collaborator Straub it contains various essays and short works of fiction dedicated to the art of writing. The dates of the pieces in the collection range from when Stephen was a wee lad of 12 writing for his brother's paper to the time of publication. There are some well known pieces, ...more
Roman Kurys
Mar 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is a fantastic supplement to King's "On Writing". A mix of short stories and his speeches over the years at different conventions gives a unique look inside the brain of one of our time's not successful authors.
You can see why yourself by just starting to read.
I am not normally a short story reader, as you can easily see by my reading history here. Novel is my thing, I enjoy the slower pace, time to get to know places, people, possibility of continuations. A short story ordinarily wou
Brent Soderstrum
Jan 05, 2009 rated it liked it
This is an interesting book. It contains various writing and interviews with Stephen King regarding the craft of writing and how he got into it. I enjoyed learning about his background and how he struggled to make a living until he finally got Carrie published. This book includes a serial story by 12 year old King that he wrote for his brother's weekly newsletter called Jumper. It also includes an original short story called "In the Death Room" which was very good. It made you feel like you were ...more
Darren Sapp
Feb 09, 2013 rated it liked it
If you enjoyed King’s "On Writing," you will like this as well. Some of the articles are redundant, simply because King tells the same stories repeatedly, but that is what readers want. There are many more stories though that continue to motivate and teach the aspiring writer. If you want to read 160 pages of King’s thoughts on horror fiction, prior to 1981, you don’t need to buy "Danse Macabre;" it’s here. I enjoyed several of the interviews and short stories not found elsewhere. Although most ...more
Oct 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, writing, 2009
This rare collection of Essays and Fiction by Stephen King is a must have for any King fan. The majority of this book consists of essays with some interviews and two fiction stories. If you enjoyed "On Writing", you will find King's wit and humor in this book just as appealing. Although King is primarily a horror writer, this book can be read by anyone interested in writing in any genre, the nucleus is there in all he says.

Out of the fiction in ths book, "The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet", whic
Steve Chisnell
Apr 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
I'm a sucker for most anything King writes, and this is billed as a companion volume to On Writing. Even so, it's not illuminating for much in the craft of writing. And while most everything has been culled from earlier sources, there are several essays and talks here which are rare or new for me. My favorite reads from the work are "On Becoming a Brand Name," his reflection on fame, and "Horror Writing," a novella-length examination of several great horror novels (originally published in Danse ...more
Mark Kaplan
May 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
As a compilation of King's thoughts on the genre, his experiences, speeches he's made, and forwards from a couple of his books, and a story of two, the reader gets a good idea of who "Stephen King on Writing". I enjoyed his revelations about his beginnings as a writer, the difficulties he faced getting published, and how hard he worked to finally get there.

All in all, it was a fine read, easily digested, with lots of insights, and some scary moments gleaned from other works and writers he mentio
Mar 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Probably closer to 3.5. I enjoyed this collection of nonfiction essays about writing and inspiration.

King has a very conversational voice, and brings the reader along in a soothing and relaxing way. There are little quips and as nice use of interspersed storytelling to move things along, and that works well. One great piece talks about (in the early 1990s) why his soon Joe will be the writer, of his three kids.

There is some retelling of stories from his other nonfiction books, but not enough to
Jan 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is something to be said about being absorbed into a story that you've seen the movie adaptation of a couple of dozen times. This story is very well written and easy to get through. It is not without it's twists and turns that a good thriller novel requires. And, to my pleasant surprise, the ending in the book was very different from the ending in the movie - which is good enough a reason to read the book, in my opinion. I am a big fan of Stephen King's novellas, and this one is definitely ...more
Oct 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
The title is very fitting here. Stephen King offered us all an inside look at the man behind the ideas. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about his inspirations for some of his most loved novels. Additionally, he offers his take on the best horror novels to date and gave me quite a kick to get started reading a few of the novels he mentions and discusses in detail. You can learn a great deal about Stephen King, and Stephen King the writer as well. I should have thought to read this one a long time ag ...more
Jan 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: writerly-reads
I loved "On Writing" and didn't quite know what to expect from this fringe/b-side/outtake collection. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this book was kind of a collage of Stephen King's approach to the job of writing and his down-to-earth take on his own identity as a writer. It doesn't quite hang together, dragging a bit at times, but overall a worthwhile read with a fair amount of places to dogear (don't tell S.K.) and return to for gleaming insights and gems of wisdom.
Dana West
May 27, 2014 rated it liked it
This was an insightful read. As an English Major, I read many short gothic tales that were heralded as great works of literary fiction and yet, I was ridiculed for being a Constant Reader. I have believed since the first SK novel I read that SK has a great insight into the human psyche and an artful way of portraying human nature while putting characters in some extreme situations.

This was a great read for aspiring writers, but also for those that may disregard SK as a "serious" writer.
Jan 30, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: anthology, essays
This is a pretty varied collection of King essays, all on the topic of writing. Some parts were good, such as his discussions of the book business (e.g., "Great Hookers I Have Known", rules for writers); but some were deathly dull, like the parts about other writers and their works (e.g., a chapter from Danse Macabre & intros he wrote for other authors' books). Interestingly, there is quite a range of POVs, even though all the essays are by the same author.
Michael O'Connell
Jun 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
Secret Windows was sometimes a bit long on the tooth but I expected a choppy read before I started this mainly because it is made up of a number of introductions from a variety of books over many years. There. Now I have a sentence that is a bit long on the tooth. See? I learned something!

Actually I did get quite a few insights for my own writing pursuits. Though, a bit stalled at the moment, I know my own stories will benefit from finding out a bit of what makes Stephen King tick… or scream.
Sep 28, 2011 rated it liked it
A companion to King's "On Writing," this book offers transcripts of interviews, his very earliest stories (in junior high school, maybe even before then), a few more short stories and a novella. King claims not to be a teacher, but he slices the horror and psychological suspense genres and writing methods with an expert carving knife. I preferred "On Writing," but this text provides some very entertaining stories along with writing treatises.
Jul 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Any writer
I very much enjoyed this companion piece to "On Writing." It's a mix of interviews, essays, and a couple of short stories. I'd probably read 1/3 of the stuff before. King's self-analysis is fun to read, because you feel he's being honest and not just angling himself so you find him in a better light.

I'm now only 9 years behind in my King reading.
Dec 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
It was fine - some of the collected items I've read elsewhere, but there were a few interesting pieces I had not yet read before. (I do think that for people who have NOT read other works by SK, this might be 5 stars, because the items included which I had already read - specifically the long portion from Danse Macabre - are awesome.)
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Stephen Edwin King was born the second son of Donald and Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King. After his father left them when Stephen was two, he and his older brother, David, were raised by his mother. Parts of his childhood were spent in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where his father's family was at the time, and in Stratford, Connecticut. When Stephen was eleven, his mother brought her children back to Durham, M ...more
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