Story A Day: “Jhonathan and the Witchs” by Stephen King

shortstorymonth320x320Writer and editor Paul Mandelbaum gathered the childhood writings of 22 distinguished authors—including Margaret Atwood, Pat Conroy, Michael Crichton, Allan Gurganus, Ursula K. Le Guin, Madeleine L’Engle, Joyce Carol Oates, William Styron, John Updike, and Tobias Wolff—for the collection First Words, which is a real hoot for fans of any of the featured writers’ more mature works and is also an inspiration for aspiring authors everywhere. For today’s story, I read a short piece that Stephen King wrote at age 9 and lent to the anthology—spelling errors and all! Certainly a pleasure to read (including the editor’s annotations about how this early work prefigures King’s later published writings), and also interesting to learn that King’s aunt paid him a quarter a story to encourage his writing habit— an investment that clearly brought favorable returns. Algonquin Books published the collection originally, and King’s tale can be found on the publisher’s blog here. — Art Taylor