At the beginning of Stephen King‘s career, the general view among publishers was that an author was limited to one book per year, since publishing more would be unacceptable to the public. King therefore wanted to write under another name, in order to increase his publication without over-saturating 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 states that adopting the nom de plume 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, as he felt he was outed as Bachman too early to know. The Bachman book Thinner (1984) 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 pseudonym King originally selected (Gus Pillsbury) is King’s maternal grandfather’s name, but at the last moment (due to the pseudonym being outed) King changed it to Richard Bachman. Richard is a tribute to crime author Donald E. Westlake’s long-running pseudonym Richard Stark. (The surname Stark was later used in King’s novel The Dark Half, in which an author’s malevolent pseudonym, “George Stark”, comes to life.) Bachman was inspired by Bachman–Turner Overdrive, a rock and roll band King was listening to at the time his publisher asked him to choose a pseudonym on the spot.
King provided biographical details for Bachman, initially in the “about the author” blurbs in the early novels. Known “facts” about Bachman were that he was born in New York, served a four-year stint in the Coast Guard, which he then followed with ten years in the Merchant Marine. Bachman finally settled down in rural central New Hampshire, where he ran a medium-sized dairy farm, writing at night. His fifth novel was dedicated to his wife, Claudia Inez Bachman, who also received credit for the bogus author photo on the book jacket. Other “facts” about the author were revealed in publicity dispatches from Bachman’s publishers: the Bachmans had one child, a boy, who died in an unfortunate, Stephen King-ish type accident at the age of six, when he fell through a well and drowned. In 1982, a brain tumour was discovered near the base of Bachman’s brain; tricky surgery removed it. After Bachman’s true identity was revealed, later publicity dispatches (and about the author blurbs) revealed that Bachman died suddenly in late 1985 of “cancer of the pseudonym, a rare form of schizonomia”.
Order of the Richard Bachman Books
Below are the Richard Bachman books in their publishing order:
|Rage||Stephen King (as Richard Bachman)||1977||Amazon||–||–|
|The Long Walk||Stephen King (as Richard Bachman)||1979||Amazon||Kindle||Audiobook|
|Roadwork||Stephen King (as Richard Bachman)||1981||Amazon||Kindle||Audiobook|
|The Running Man||Stephen King (as Richard Bachman)||1982||Amazon||Kindle||Audiobook|
|Thinner||Stephen King (as Richard Bachman)||1984||Amazon||–||Audiobook|
|The Bachman Books||Stephen King (as Richard Bachman)||1985||Amazon||–||–|
|The Regulators||Stephen King (as Richard Bachman)||1996||Amazon||–||Audiobook|
|Blaze||Stephen King (as Richard Bachman)||2007||Amazon||Kindle||Audiobook|