How Stephen King Became 'Richard Bachman' And Why He Let Him Die

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How Stephen King Became 'Richard Bachman' And Why He Let Him Die

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Even if you aren't an avid reader, odds are, you know the name Stephen King. His books have become a household staple, and his legacy as an author is one of America's greatest.

He is known for simply writing all the time, and producing amazing - albeit horrifying - story lines. After reading several of Kings many, many books, you may even be able to pick up on his signature style.

By 1977, his fame was already growing, and with his next book, The Stand, slated to be released, all signs pointed towards happy days for King. But he had ran into a snag with his publisher.

You wouldn't think that a critically acclaimed writer with several popular bestsellers out would have a problem publishing his books. As it turns out, that's exactly what King was struggling with even after the wide success of his first three novels, Carrie, Salem's Lot, and The Shining.

To solve his problem, King was going to do more than write a story, he was going to create a character, and then make him real.

In those days, publishers had strict rules about how many books could be published by a single author in a year. How many? One, and only one.

This was too limiting for the King who could not help but write more and more stories. However, instead of fighting the company, he decided to just come up with another author!

He wanted to put out more content, but also wanted to see if he "still had it" or if his work was successful because of his notoriety. So he took the draft of his new book Getting It On, and re-titled it Rage, for release under a pseudonym.

According to King, when he needed to come up with his pen name, he just looked around the room. He saw a Bachman Turner Overdrive record turning, and on his desk lay a novel by Richard Stark, the pen name for author Donald E. Westlake.

Thus "Richard Bachman" was born. The books he published came to modest success, nothing like his regular sales, but good nonetheless. This continued for nearly a decade, until an observant reader noticed a few coincidences.

When Steve Brown got an advance copy of Richard Bachman's latest novel Thinner, he knew something was up right away. Unlike the previous books, this was a definite horror story, with all the rugged, fantastical elements that make a King novel unique.

He did some digging and found out that the copyrights to the previous Bachman books were all under King's current agent, and one for King himself!

He contacted King and said he didn't want to necessarily reveal his identity, and asked how they would like to proceed. King responded and said that he would let Brown publish an interview unveiling his identity.

The writing world was stunned, but King was a little upset about it, saying that Bachman had developed a following of his own. He had developed an attachment to the character, but was at least able to publish several more books from his "second identity" later on in his career.

Have you ever wanted a secret identity? What would you do with yours?