Richard Bachman

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Richard Bachman is a pseudonym used by horror fiction author Stephen King.

Contents

Origin

At the beginning of Stephen King's career, the general view among publishers was such that an author was limited to a book every year; publishing more would not be acceptable to the public. King therefore wanted to write under another name, in order to increase his publication without oversaturating the market for the King "brand". He convinced his publisher, Signet Books, to print these novels under a pseudonym.

In his introduction to The Bachman Books, King does state that Bachman was also an attempt to make sense out of his career and try to answer the question of whether his success was due to talent or luck. He says he deliberately released the Bachman novels with as little marketing presence as possible and did his best to "load the dice against" Bachman. King concludes that he has yet to find an answer to the "talent versus luck" question. The Bachman book Thinner sold 28,000 copies during its initial run—and then ten times as many when it was revealed that Bachman was, in fact, King.

The originally selected pseudonym was the name of King's maternal grandfather; but at the last moment King changed it to "Richard Bachman", in tribute to crime author Donald E. Westlake's long-running pseudonym Richard Stark. The name Stark was used in King's novel The Dark Half, a novel about an author with a pseudonym. The surname was in honor of Bachman–Turner Overdrive, a rock and roll band King was listening to at the time.[1]

Identification

King dedicated Bachman's early books — Rage (1977), The Long Walk (1979), Roadwork (1981), and The Running Man (1982) — to people close to him, and worked in obscure references to his own identity. These clues, not to mention the similarity between the two authors' literary styles, aroused the suspicions of horror fans and retailers.

King steadfastly denied any connection to Bachman and, to throw fans off the trail, dedicated Bachman's 1984 novel Thinner to "Claudia Inez Bachman", supposedly Bachman's wife. There was also a phony author photo of Bachman on the dustjacket, credited to Claudia. He also has one of the characters describe how the strange happenings are like a "Stephen King" novel in the book.

The link between King and his shadow writer became undeniable when a persistent Washington D.C. bookstore clerk, Steve Brown, could not believe that Bachman and King were not one and the same, and eventually located publisher's records at the Library of Congress naming King as the author of one of Bachman's novels.[2] This led to a press release heralding Bachman's "death" — supposedly from "cancer of the pseudonym".[3] At the time of the announcement in 1985, King was working on Misery, which he had planned to release as a Bachman book.

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