What’s the ‘crossroads’ novel?

2016_January_crossroadsOnce on a long hike, I told my older son the story of Stephen King’s novel The Shining. It terrified him, but also kept him going on a pretty exhausting 12 km trek.

I read some novels out loud to my children, and my oldest son asked me if I would read this to him. Funnily enough, I was his age (12) when I read the novel myself, and I can still remember how scared I was reading it.

Since – ahem- a long time has passed since I originally read it, the newer edition I’m reading now has an author foreword in which Stephen King looks back to The Shining as his ‘crossroads’ novel.

He says there is one novel early in a writer’s career in which he continues going in the direction that has brought him some measure of success or else decides to strike out in a whole new direction, effectively ‘upping the bar’ and changing the course of his writing.

King feels that The Shining was that crossroads novel for him, and that the choices he made in writing this book shaped his subsequent (very successful) career.

What do you think about the crossroads novel, writers? Have you experienced this yourselves? Or have you recognized this in other novelists at some point in their writing careers?


  1. Chris on January 29, 2016 at 5:39 am

    Interesting theory. I think only the author him/herself can say which is the crossroads novel or work.

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