On the web: sarahlotz.com
On Twitter: @SarahLotz1
Along with Pet Sematary, My dad gave me Carrie to read when I was eleven years old. He doesn’t remember this – just like he doesn’t remember giving me The Wasp Factory a year later – and I’ll be eternally grateful to him for never censoring my reading. Reading above my age bracket gave me an early insight into the possibilities of story-telling, and I learned pretty quickly that happy endings aren’t always a given.
I read Carrie in one go, you couldn’t have pried it out of my hands. Sure, after reading it, I was mentally scarred for quite a while. Not to the extent that Bambi’s mum’s death, or the twisted ending of The Wasp Factory messed me up, but close. I was too young to really ‘get’ the famous menstruation scene at the start of the novel, but I totally identified with Carrie. Not background-wise of course – I was brought up in the UK by two fairly level-headed atheist doctors, and as far as I know I have no telekinetic powers – but at the time I was also being bullied by a bunch of girls at school (some of whom – to my mind anyway – bore an uncomfortable resemblance to Chris Hargensen). I completely understood Carrie’s anguish at being sidelined, and her desperation to fit in. But at least I could escape when I was at home. Carrie couldn’t. I rooted for her all the way, desperately hoping that she’d somehow find a way to escape her horrendous mother and have some semblance of a normal life. But even back then I knew it was impossible. King couldn’t have ended the novel any other way – from word one it was clear Carrie was destined for a tragic end (and there’s no coming back from committing a telekinetic Columbine-sized massacre). Carrie wasn’t born bad – she was up against impossible odds. It just seemed so unfair. So I made up my own ending, one in which Carrie ducks the prom, flees her awful home-life, gets a handle on her powers and basically becomes one of the X-Men, only more of a bad-ass. I constructed it in excruciating detail.
Years later, I was having lunch with my editor Anne Perry and for some reason we started talking about Carrie. Anne mentioned that she thought Sue Snell, who convinces her boyfriend to take Carrie to the prom, was the real heroine of the novel. Anne had a valid point, but I disagreed. To me, Carrie will always be the heroine, and with all the apologies in the world to Stephen King, I secretly prefer the ridiculous ending my eleven-year-old self made up. Hypocritically, this hasn’t stopped me putting my own characters through the mill, although I do feel a twinge of guilt whenever I put them through hell. Reading Carrie taught me that sometimes you don’t always get the endings you deserve.
Sarah Lotz is a screenwriter and novelist with a fondness for the macabre and fake names. Among other things, she writes horror/thriller novels under the name S.L. Grey with author Louis Greenberg, a YA pulp-fiction zombie series with her daughter, Savannah, under the pseudonym Lily Herne, and quirky erotica novels with authors Helen Moffett and Paige Nick under the name Helena S. Paige.
Her latest solo novel, The Three, will be published in May, 2014. She lives in Cape Town with her family and other animals.