A graduate student at a Scottish university is working on what may be the first Ph.D. thesis on the work of author Stephen King.

Amy Palko, a teaching assistant and student at the University of Stirling, has always had a taste for the macabre, The Scotsman reports. As an undergraduate, her specialty was Edgar Allen Poe, the 19th-century master of horror who is also credited with inventing the detective story.

Dealing with a living author, Palko got permission from King to do her research. That was necessary to get access to his archive at the University of Maine, where she could examine early drafts of many of his novels and stories.

"I got funding to go out there and rummage through cardboard boxes for three weeks," she said. "It was complete bliss for me. The strangest thing I found was a collection of punk magazines. I have no idea how they fitted into the collection."

While Palko is a big King fan, she is also a serious student, examining the borderline between popular and literary novels.

"King clearly does see himself as a popular author and feels, to a certain extent, stigmatized by that," she said.