Carlos Ruiz Zafón, author of the international thriller and modern classic The Shadow of the Wind, which sold 20 million copies worldwide, died last week at the age of 55.

Zafon’s contributions to the literary world were far-reaching, with his work having been published in more than 40 languages.

Author Stephen King described The Shadow of the Wind, the first installment of Zafón’s four part series titled “The Cemetery of Forgotten Books,” as “the real deal, a novel full of cheesy splendor and creaking trapdoors … where even the subplots have subplots.” Daily Telegraph called it “a triumph of the storyteller’s art … enchanting hilarious and heartbreaking.”

Since he was a child, Zafón had been in the business of storytelling. On a page called “Why I Write” on his website, he said he crafted stories “all in exchange for a penny, a smile or a tear and a little bit of [our] time and attention” because he believed his storytelling was “the best thing [he had] to offer for others to enjoy,” — it was his way of contributing to the world.

His first four published works achieved modest success in Spain’s young adult fiction field, but in an interview with Paul Blezard, Zafón admitted that his fifth novel, The Shadow of the Wind, in many respects felt like his first. His “ten years of experimenting” finally allowed him to produce “the book [he] always wanted to write” and thus launch his adult writing career.