Woodlands author up for Edgar Award
Rumor has it that bestselling author Stephen King was once so poor, he didn't have a phone, and the only way to reach him was via telegram which is how he was informed "Carrie," his first book, would be published.
Panther Creek resident Bev Vincent, 48, knows all these little tidbits and more, having studied King's work extensively, not to mention previously unseen treasures from King's archives.
The result has been compiled into Vincent's latest book, "The Stephen King Illustrated Companion."
It's got pockets within, holding authentic copies of King's handwritten manuscript notes, journal entries, doodles, and the 1974 telegram that launched King into the horror genre stratosphere.
If the document was adorned with coffee stains and holes, that's how it's been replicated for the book.
"The attention to detail is just amazing," Vincent said. "A lot of this stuff nobody has seen before."
Vincent's efforts have resulted in a nomination for an Edgar Allan Poe Award.
Edgar Awards are given annually by the Mystery Writers of America.
Vincent, along with four additional authors, is up for an award in the "Best Critical/Biographical" work of 2009.
Vincent said the book "takes a critical look at King's most iconic works and reads between the lines to uncover the personal influences and demons as reflected in each monster, epidemic, and depraved character."
The book delves into King classics such as The Shining, The Stand, The Dead Zone, It, and Misery.
Vincent is quite familiar with King, having published the Road to Dark Tower: Exploring Stephen King's Magnum Opus, in 2008. That book is a companion to King's Dark Tower series.
In January 2009, Fall River Press at Barnes and Noble asked Vincent to do the all-encompassing Illustrated Companion.
Vincent did not interact with King for the second book, although King fact-checked the manuscript and did not request any changes.
Vincent has met King a few times, and said he's not nearly as menacing as he looks on the Illustrated Companion cover.
"King is not a scary guy," Vincent said. "He's a very down-to-earth rural guy. Been married for 30-plus years. A grandfather. He's just a very good story teller."
As was Edgar Allan Poe, the namesake of the Edgar Award.
Poe, an American writer and poet, was born in 1809. He died in 1849 at age 40 under mysterious circumstances attributed to a wide range of possibilities, from alcoholism to syphilis.
Vincent said he was about 10-years-old when he first read some of Poe's stuff. He said he's read "The Cask of Amontillado" a short story published in 1846 that revolves around a person being buried alive so often his copy fell to pieces.
"I use it quite a bit in different ways in the things I've written," Vincent said. "I still go back to it time to time for inspiration. King does that too. Pet Sematary was inspired by Poe. Most horror writers are inspired by Poe at some level."
Originally from New Brunswick, Canada, Vincent grew up in a small, rural town. He read a lot mystery books, such as the Hardy Boys and Agatha Christie. He picked up his first King book, Salem's Lot, from a second-hand bookstore in 1979.
In eighth grade, Vincent wrote a short mystery for a school assignment.
"The teacher said it was good enough to be published," Vincent said. "It wasn't true, but that's the sort of encouragement young people thrive on."
Vincent continued to write all through high school, passing his stories around to friends and family, never daring to submit anything for publication.
Vincent's writing got put on the backburner after earning a chemistry degree from Dalhousie in 1983, followed by a doctorate in 1988, and a stint overseas as a scientist at the University of Zurich.
After landing in The Woodlands in 1989 to work for Rigaku, Vincent joined the Woodlands Writers Guild, eventually serving as president.
There he got to know Colleen Thompson, another author who went on to launch her publishing career through the guild.
She recently wrote on her blog "when I first met Bev, I could tell right away he was a man with serious plans for going pro. And sure enough, he's made good on many of them."
Vincent has published more than 50 short stories and writes a column about King for horror magazine "Cemetery Dance."
As for awards, Vincent recently learned The Stephen King Illustrated Companion won a Black Quill Reader's Choice Award.
Last month, it was awarded a London Book Fair prize.
But the Edgar Award nomination is huge, a pinnacle of his writing career.
"The Edgar is the Oscar of the mystery world," said David Thompson of Murder by the Book in Houston.
Thompson arranged a book signing with Vincent in 2008 for "The Blue Religion: New Stories about Cops, Criminals and the Chase," a Mystery Writers of America anthology Vincent had a story in.
The anthology was edited by best-selling author Michael Connelly. Vincent's story was titled "Rule Number One," and it was inspired by a ride-along he experienced with a Houston police officer.
Vincent has been inspired by the police before, writing a fictional crime story in 2003. The main character is a private detective who is also a bounty hunter who also works for a reality television show.
That story is now getting a second look from Vincent's literary agent, and may soon be published yet another accolade he might like to share with his former university professors.
"It bothered me when I started getting B's in English my first year at Dalhousie," Vincent said. "They said that was 'pretty good for a science major.' I never did get it to an A."
Meet Bev Vincent, 48
Community connection: Panther Creek
Career: scientist/marketing at Rigaku
Second career: author
Fast fact: Vincent has been nominated for an Edgar Award for his recent book "The Stephen King Illustrated Companion." Winners will be announced April 29
Quick Quote: "Most horror writers are inspired by Poe at some level."
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