Stephen King Surprised Mom with 'Carrie' Book Advance So She Could Quit Job as She Fought Cancer

The horror author's mother, Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King, was working "in excruciating pain" before she received the generous gift from her son

Stephen King knew just how to thank his biggest supporter when he first hit it big.

In a recent CBS Sunday Morning segment, the 73-year-old horror author opened up about how he surprised his mother, Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King, with the paperback advance from his first novel, Carrie, so that she could stop working while battling cancer.

"The hardcover advance was small, but the paperback advance just bowled us over — it was, like, $400,000 in 1974," Stephen explained to anchor Jane Pauley. "It was a huge amount of money."

"And my brother and I talked a little bit about it. And we went to the Pineland facility where she worked. She was in her green uniform, green rayon uniform — never told this story before — but she was stoned, totally stoned on over-the-counter medication. She was in excruciating pain by that point. And my brother and I, we said, 'Mom, you're done. There's enough to take care of you now, because the book sold for a lot of money, and you can go home,'" he added. "And she just put her hands over her face and cried."

Nellie would later die of cancer in 1973 at the age of 59, according to Stephen's website.

Stephen King
CBS Sunday Morning

Carrie, which was released a year after his mother's death in 1974, is one of Stephen's most popular and well-known books and was made into a hit movie two years later.

Directed by Brian de Palma, the 1976 film follows the plot of the novel, centering on a shy and young girl, Carrie White, who discovers that she has telekinetic powers.

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The movie earned $33.8 million in worldwide box office sales, per Box Office Mojo, and later spawned a sequel — 1999's The Rage: Carrie 2 — as well as a 2002 television film and a 2013 remake starring Chloë Grace Moretz in the title role.

Stephen's latest book-to-film adaptation of Lisey's Story, which is executive produced by J.J. Abrams and stars Julianne Moore, is currently streaming on Apple TV+.

RELATED VIDEO: Julianne Moore Calls Stephen King 'Incredibly Generous' After Working Together on Lisey's Story

During his sit-down with CBS Sunday Morning, Stephen also explained that his mother was always supportive of his hopes and dreams to become a writer, often encouraging his talents at a very young age.

"My mother gave me room to be what I wanted to be," Stephen said of Nellie. "She didn't laugh about the ambition to write stories."

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