One Sunday in May 1973, Stephen King received a phone call from his publisher. “Are you sitting down?”, the agent asked, before delivering the news that Signet Books had purchased the rights to King’s first novel, Carrie, for $400k. King was then living in a small rented apartment, while working as a part-time schoolteacher and laundrette and petrol pump attendant. His life story had reached a turning point.
This lottery-winning experience came in Venus-Rahu period, with Rahu bringing its classic sudden transformation, in the house of gains and revenue. Today King is the world’s best-selling living novelist, with over fifty titles to his name selling an estimated 350m books. His chart has the superstar signature and this born storyteller has described writing, especially in his early years, as like being possessed (bwahaha!) or connected to a giant electric generator.
Mars and Saturn rising in Cancer is a suitably sinister lagna for the master of horror, yet King’s hulking appearance with bottle-top glasses is deceptive for such a nice guy. The lagna degree and two planets in the first house, all in different nakshatras, makes a complex mixture. Exalted Mercury in the third is a classic writer and schoolteacher’s placement, and it is clear from his memoir and manual On Writing how much King cares about technique and precision of language. Moon in parivatana yoga with Mars links the first and fifth lords, making a Maha Raja Yoga - significantly perhaps, the very first that Parashara lists: ‘The native so born will be famous and happy’ (BPHS 39:6-7).
21st September 1947, 01:24am, Portland, Maine.
Rich, too. Ninth lord Jupiter joining with lagnesh Moon makes Lakshmi Yoga, enhanced by placement in fifth house and also with Ketu. The South Node associated with the Moon in Scorpio is a dark daydreamer (Dreamcatcher?), perfect for an artist dealing in supernatural themes. In his own words: “In writing… we are encouraging our minds to unlock from the humdrum rational thinking of our daytime lives”, and he has also described writing as ‘telepathy’. Just so. Ketu in a trine, with ruler Mars in the ascendant, makes its own Raja Yoga in a truly formidable chart – if 'your name is your fame', he is a King of Writing.
Fallen Venus propelled King to material heights in its dasha, but brought its own issues. It is mitigated by exalted Mercury and its own exaltation in the Navamsha, though still combust and aspected by Saturn and, some would say, Rahu. Venus governs pleasure and addiction, and King’s use of booze, cocaine and prescription drugs became chronic by 1978-9 (once the royalties started pouring in). His substance abuse became so overpowering, in fact, he claims not even to remember writing some of his mid-80s blockbusters. Sun Mahadasha beginning 1983, saw the height of his fame and it took an AA-style intervention by his family (Sun 2nd lord) to persuade him to clean up. He has been sober since just prior to Moon mahadasha in 1988.
On June 19th 1999, in a scene that could have been channelled from one of his books, King was out for a walk near his home when he was hit by a speeding truck driven by a drunken maniac. Hurled into a roadside ditch, he was lucky to survive, but left with a punctured lung (Mars in Cancer), a broken hip and multiple fractures of his leg (Saturn). Six operations over the next two months saved his life; he narrowly avoided having his leg amputated and considered retirement as he could no longer sit comfortably to write. Yogakaraka Mars is in Punavasu, however, a nakshatra signifying recovery and revival, and he made the long and successful journey back to work and health.
The timing of the accident is extraordinary: rectifying his birthtime by only six minutes to 01:24am, puts June 19th at the start of Mars Mahadasha. Certainly debilitated Mars forming a kind of Papa Katari dosha with eighth lord Saturn across the lagna degree, gives scope for such a disaster. One would advise a client with this placement to take major remedial measures, or at very least to be careful. Yet taking care is often not enough - the crash occurred at the only blind spot on a road that King knew very well, and seemed to be part of his karmic agenda.
Despite being Mr Spooky, King’s popularity comes less from blood and chills than the affable regular-guy humour that comes across in his writing. Pushya nakshatra rising gives a warm, pleasing manner, while Moon-Jupiter adds heart, as do benefics flanking his fourth house. He donates millions to charity, loves his children, has stayed married to his wife and soulmate, and seems altogether as sweet-natured as any professional nightmare writer can be.