He is among the most successful novelists of the last several decades; so is she. He is known for writing blood-soaked tales filled with creepy monsters and supernatural beings; she dabbles in the realm of vampires, werewolves and bloodletting. So why is Stephen King hating on Stephenie Meyer?

"The real difference is that Jo Rowling is a terrific writer and Stephenie Meyer can't write worth a darn," King told USA Weekend magazine, comparing "Harry Potter" writer J.K. Rowling and the "Twilight" mastermind. The interview will be published as the cover story of the mag's March 6-8 issue. "She's not very good."

King took the scandalous swipe at the "Twilight" author while answering a seemingly innocent question about whether his 45-year career as a published writer has influenced younger artists the same way he was influenced in his youth.

"I think [my work] has some kind of formative influence, the same way reading Richard Matheson had an influence on me," King explained to the magazine. "People always say to me, 'Well, what about H.P. Lovecraft'? And the thing was, you read Lovecraft when you were a kid, but I never felt that he was speaking my language. It was chillier than my heart was, and when Matheson started to write about ordinary people and stuff, that was something that I wanted to do.

"I said, 'This is the way to do it. He's showing the way,' " King explained, comparing his appreciation for the "I Am Legend" author to the way he has influenced the authors of the "Twilight" and "Harry Potter" franchises. "I think that I serve that purpose for some writers, and that's a good thing."

In the article, King then goes on to compare "Twilight" queen Meyer to another successful "not very good" author: "Perry Mason" creator Erle Stanley Gardner. "He was a terrible writer, too, but he was very successful," the "Cujo" author explained. "People are attracted by the stories, by the pace.

"In the case of Stephenie Meyer," he added, "It's very clear that she's writing to a whole generation of girls and opening up kind of a safe joining of love and sex in those books."

Attempting to explain the enormous success of Meyer's novels, King speculated that Twilighters simply aren't yet ready for a depiction of real, adult romance: "It's exciting and it's thrilling and it's not particularly threatening, because they're not overtly sexual. A lot of the physical side of it is conveyed in things like the vampire will touch her forearm or run a hand over skin, and she just flushes all hot and cold. And for girls, that's a shorthand for all the feelings that they're not ready to deal with yet."

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