Stephen King loves scaring people, but one student at University of Massachusetts Lowell tried to find out Friday what scares him.
"Spiders, snakes ... my mother-in-law," the writer said with a grin.
The author of international bestselling books including "Carrie" and "The Shining" came to the college to talk with writing students.
English Department professor Andre Dubus III, another bestselling author and an old friend of King's, shared the stage for about an hour as students asked questions about their craft.
King told the crowd of about 125 students that his goal is to write stories that sizzle with emotion.
"I'm a confrontational writer. I want to be in your face. I want to get into your space. I want to get within kissing distance, hugging distance, choking distance, punching distance. Call it whatever you want. But I want your attention."
He got that Friday, plus some laughs.
Wearing jeans and a black T-shirt, the 65-year-old writer from Maine peppered his talk with profanity and promised students he was just a regular guy.
He said they shouldn't be in awe like he was when he was a University of Maine freshman and heard a talk from "Catch-22" author Joseph Heller.
"It's not like being U2, you know what I'm saying?" King said.
The author told students he knows where he gets his writing ideas about half the time, and his fascination for horror stories didn't come from childhood trauma.
During his lecture and in an interview later, King also talked about two books he's finished that will be published in 2013.
The author's crime novel "Joyland" will be out in paperback in July, followed in September by the book "Doctor Sleep," a sequel to his thriller "The Shining."