How Stephen King Taught Me That Genre Is A Trap.

The Wicked Orchard by Sidra Owens
7 min readApr 22, 2023
Photo by Bruno Guerrero on Unsplash

Mystery was my first love.

I discovered my love for reading in fifth grade. I started with the original Nancy Drew mysteries by Carolyn Keene. Although I enjoyed them, I only got to number three before switching to the newer updated Nancy Drew series circa 1989. I stuck to mysteries like that for a while; throwing in the occasional Babysitter’s Club and Agatha Christie. I liked the genre so much that when sixth grade arrived and we were tasked with writing our own novel, I tried to write a murder mystery. I think I got a B. Not bad for a first try. In that English class, I learned what a genre was, but it made little impact on me until I reached the seventh grade, and my genre of choice changed.

It’s All Stephen King’s fault.

When I got to the seventh grade, the year was 1990 and my favorite class was English, but it wasn’t called that anymore. It was called Language Arts. My language arts teacher was Ms. Cody, and all of the shelves in her classroom were filled with age appropriate, well-loved paperback novels. It was a standard classroom, with desks and white boards, but in strategic areas, by the window or behind a folding privacy screen, there were bean bag chairs. If you finished your work early, you could check out one of her paperbacks and read for the rest of class. I still gravitated towards mysteries, and some of the more, age-inappropriate ones were harder to get, because everyone wanted to check them out, myself included.

And then I saw the first trailer for Misery.

Although I loved reading mystery, I loved watching horror. I was a huge fan of hack and slash movies and Nightmare on Elm Street was my favorite. I was one of those fortunate kids, who weren’t bothered by nightmares from watching that stuff. When I saw the trailer for Misery, I realized that it was definitely a horror movie and I definitely wanted to see it. Well, I knew going to the movies to see it wasn’t going to happen, but then of course, I learned that it was based on the novel by Stephen King. I didn’t know who this Stephen King guy was, but I knew I could get my hands on that book. So, mom took me to B. Dalton booksellers, where I could easily walk around reading blurbs for hours. Then, I discovered that this Stephen King…