News from the Dead Zone #137

Happy New Year, everyone! Can’t believe this is my first post of 2011. And what news we have! Though several actors have been named as possible candidates to play the part of Roland in the Dark Tower movie/TV adaptation, the word today (confirmed by King’s office) is that Javier Bardem has been offered the role. No word yet on whether he has accepted, but this announcement has stirred some passioned responses. The main complaints seem to be that 1) he doesn’t look the way people envision Roland (especially the eyes) and 2) he has an accent. Neither of those issues matters to me. Give him blue contacts and a few months with a dialect coach and those matters will vanish. I think this he’s a good choice. We’ve seen him do stone cold killer before. If we can’t have Timothy Olyphant (from Justified), Bardem will do just fine.

Ron Howard has talked a little bit about his plans for the series in recent interviews. He will be directing at least the first movie and perhaps all three. He will also direct the intervening TV series, which are now better described as limited-run miniseries (six to eight hours), which will probably air on an NBC affiliate like SyFy or USA. The same actors will appear on the big screen and on the TV miniseries. Akiva Goldsman is scripting the first movie, and will write the TV component as well. One report says that the second TV series will be the flashback to Roland’s youth.

In related news, the second issue of the Marvel adaptation of Little Sisters of Eluria is out this week and the hardcover collection of The Journey Begins is out today as well. I’m not exactly sure what’s going on with the standalone issue Sheemie’s Tale, which was originally slated for last fall. Some reports have it coming out this week as well.

If you missed King’s U-stream chat last fall, it can now be seen on the Full Dark, No Stars web site. In that interview he reveals that he’s written a screenplay for “A Good Marriage” and hopes it’s made into a film. He was supposed to provide details about his next book, but due to technical difficulties toward the end that question didn’t get asked, so now we’ll have to wait for a while to find out more.

In early January, King said that he would no longer be writing regular columns for Entertainment Weekly. After his three Top 10 columns in December (Top 10 Books, Top 10 TV shows, Top 10 Movies), he published one final column, So Long, My Friends. “After seven years of waxing philosophical about all things pop culture, Uncle Stevie says goodbye.” (not yet online).

For an interesting glimpse behind the scenes, check out this podcast: A peek inside the office with Marsha DeFilippo.

In the January issue of Down East magazine, a columnist asks King about his concept of “the real Maine.” He replied, “My idea of the real Maine is lunch at Rosie’s Diner in Lovell. Especially in the fall, after the summer folks go home. Grab a copy of the local paper (the Bridgton News), sit at the counter, and order the blueberry pancakes (with real maple syrup). Bacon on the side’s optional. The cook wears a Red Sox hat, there’s a picture of Elvis over the specials board,and the locals talk politics and football while the leaves fall outside. If you like, when you finish your lunch, you can stroll across to the public library. Not bad.”

Photos of Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King

Here are some photos of the Gift Edition and the Limited Edition of Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King, published in December 2010 by Cemetery Dance Publications.


Limited Edition cover (L) and Gift Edition cover (R):
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Gift Edition slipcase (top) and Limited Edition traycase (bottom):
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(L to R) US trade hardcover, UK trade hardcover, Cemetery Dance Gift Edition, Cemetery Dance Limited Edition:
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Gift Edition in the slipcase:
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The Gift Edition binding and two color hot foil stamping:
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Gift Edition book with slipcase:
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Gift Edition back cover:
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Gift Edition endpapers:
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Title Page with two color printing:
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Limited Edition traycase:
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Limited Edition book with traycase:
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Limited Edition book in traycase:
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Limited Edition hot foil stamping:
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Limited Edition pinstriped endpapers:
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Limited Edition sewn-in satin page marker:
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Limited Edition signature sheet signed by Stephen King:
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Artwork Samples:
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Photos of Legacies

Legacies is a landmark deluxe signed Limited Edition featuring ten classic reprints from the legends of dark fantasy and terror: Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Clive Barker, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, David Morrell, Peter Straub, Robert Bloch, William F. Nolan, and George Clayton Johnson. A once-in-a-lifetime event, Legacies is a must-have for any collector of great horror fiction!

This incredible collectible volume features a total of 29 tip-ins and was bound using a deluxe “oversewing” technique to provide better durability. There are eighteen pieces of full-color and black & white artwork printed on glossy archival paper and hand-tipped into the book. There are eleven different signature sheets, which also had to be hand-tipped into the book. Both editions also feature a satin ribbon page marker sewn into the book itself.

Finally, both editions are housed in hand-made custom deluxe traycases to protect your book. These traycases feature a pullout ribbon and magnetic clasps on the fold-over flap.

Legacies

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Limited Edition Binding

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Lettered Edition Binding

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Limited Edition “blue on blue” pinstriped endsheets

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Lettered Edition textured endsheets

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Lettered Edition frontispiece

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Lettered Edition traycase (L) and Limited Edition traycase (R)

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Limited Edition traycase

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Lettered Edition traycase

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Limited Edition book with traycase

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Lettered Edition book with traycase

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Inside of the Lettered Edition traycase

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The pullout ribbon inside the traycase

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News from the Dead Zone #136

Stephen King will be participating in a live chat about Full Dark, No Stars on Wednesday, December 8th, from 7-8 p.m. Eastern. If you have a question you would like King to answer during the chat, send it to Scribner . RSVP to the event and join it live here.

King signed copies of Full Dark, No Stars in Portsmouth, NH last week. Here’s an article about the event. There’s a tag-team review of the book at Amazon: Justin Cronin reviews 1922, Suzanne Collins reviews Big Driver, Margaret Atwood reviews A Good Marriage and T.C. Boyle reviews Fair Extension.

Recent Entertainment Weekly columns:

News from the Dead Zone #135

A week from today Full Dark, No Stars will be released. Scribner has a dedicated website for the book, with excerpts, King’s “liner notes” and more. Don’t neglect to click around on the graphics for each story. You will be richly rewarded! The signed versions of Cemetery Dance’s limited edition are sold out, but there are still some copies of the trade edition available. A few—this beautiful version moved fast! The wraparound cover by Tomislav Tikulin is gorgeous. Each story has a different illustrator: Glenn Chadbourne, Jill Bauman, Alan M. Clark and Vincent Chong. Check out the link to see samples of the art.

Hodder & Stoughton has been producing mini movies for each story. So far I’ve seen ones for 1922 and Big Driver. Mainstream reviews are starting to come in, too. Washington Post review by Bill Sheehan, Fort Worth Star Telegram review, The Scotsman.

Mark this date in your calendar: Friday, May 17, 2013. That’s the day Universal will launch the first movie in the Dark Tower adaptation. Director Ron Howard acknowledges Peter Jackson’s influence in their approach to the adaptation. “What Peter did was a feat, cinematic history. The approach we’re taking also stands on its own, but it’s driven by the material. I love both, and like what’s going on in TV. With this story, if you dedicated to one medium or another, there’s the horrible risk of cheating material. The scope and scale call for a big screen budget. But if you committed only to films, you’d deny the audience the intimacy and nuance of some of these characters and a lot of cool twists and turns that make for jaw-dropping, compelling television. We’ve put some real time and deep thought into this, and a lot of conversations and analysis from a business standpoint, to get people to believe in this and take this leap with us. I hope audiences respond to it in a way that compels us to keep going after the first year or two of work. It’s fresh territory for me, as a filmmaker.”

If you’ve been waiting for the hardcover collection of the Marvel “N” adaptation, it’s now available. If you’ve been waiting for a second arc to the Del Rey adaptation of The Talisman, that series appears to be on hold at present.

Check out King’s final selections in his Empire.

The U.S. cable network Syfy says Haven will return next summer. The 13-episode second season will begin shooting on location in Nova Scotia, Canada, in the spring.

New Entertainment Weekly column: Stephen King on Pop Music (original title “Higher and Higher”)

Samples Images From Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King

Here are some sample images from Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King:

Sample images by Glenn Chadbourne from “1922”

1922 Sample

1922 Sample

Sample images by Jill Bauman from “Big Driver”

Big Driver Sample

Big Driver Sample

Sample images by Alan M. Clark from “Fair Extension”

Fair Extension Sample

Fair Extension Sample

Sample images by Vincent Chong from “A Good Marriage”

A Good Marriage Sample

A Good Marriage Sample

News from the Dead Zone #134

Reviews of Full Dark, No Stars are coming in. You can see reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, Publishers Weekly and Library Journal at this thread on my message board. There’s also an audio excerpt from “A Good Marriage” at the Scribner site, read by Jessica Hecht and a Full Dark, No Stars trailer on the same page.

If you missed out on “Throttle,” the collaboration between King and his son Joe Hill, inspired by the Richard Matheson story “Duel,” there’s a new edition of He is Legend out from Tor. Hardcover, paperback and Kindle editions all available. His short story “Beachworld” will be reprinted in Issue 5 of Lightspeed magazine. There are few authors in the world about whom you can honestly say “he needs no introduction.” But when you’re talking about Stephen King, that’s most certainly the truth. “Beachworld,” one of the horror master’s rare forays into straight-up science fiction, follows the plight of the two survivors of a far-future interstellar spaceflight, who crash land on a harsh and unforgiving planet.

According to the USA Today review of American Vampire, King is toying with another comic book idea called Afterlife. “It’s something I’d like to try,” he says. “But then on the other hand, I’d also like to learn how to be a gourmet cook, so who knows?” You can read his introduction to the hardcover edition here.

The next series in the Marvel Dark Tower adaptation will be The Little Sisters Of Eluria, launching in December.

King offered his opinion in a CNN piece about the ebook industry. He talks about what scares him in this clip from his appearance at the New Yorker festival. “Disney pictures are scary as shit. They all are.”

Here’s an interview King did while on the set of Sons of Anarchy and a bunch of stills from his cameo.

Off Broadway, the MCC Theater has acquired the rights to mount the first professional production of Carrie since it closed on Broadway in 1988, three days after opening to a pile of hide-under-the-covers reviews and setting a record by losing more than $7 million. The musical’s original creative team and the director Stafford Arima are working toward a major production at the Lucille Lortel Theater during the 2011-12 season, according to MCC’s co-artistic director Bernard Telsey. Here’s the full article, and here’s the original review of the musical from 1988.

For Italian King fans, Tutto su Stephen King, the translation of The Stephen King Illustrated Companion, will be released by Sperling & Kupfer on October 26.

Recent Entertainment Weekly column: Stephen King’s Hits and Misses

News From the Dead Zone #133

Look at the Dark Tower. It’s a movie. Now it’s a TV series. Now it’s a movie again. Now it’s both.

Universal Pictures and NBC Universal Television issued a press release this week detailing their creative plan for an adaptation of the Dark Tower series, including related short stories and the Marvel comic series. Ron Howard, Brian Grazer and Akiva Goldsman are planning for the first film in the trilogy to be immediately followed by a television series that will bridge the second film. After the second film, the television series will pick up, allowing viewers to explore the adventures of the protagonist as a young man as a bridge to the third film and beyond. Here’s the official page at King’s web site tracking the project.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, King said, “I always thought it would take more than a single movie, but I didn’t see this solution coming — i.e., several movies and TV series. It was Ron [Howard] and Akiva [Goldsman]‘s idea. Once it was raised, I thought at once it was the solution.” He also joked that the cast of the Twilight series should be considered for various roles and suggested himself for the voice of Blaine the mono.

Don’t forget to check out the September 21 episode of the FX series Sons of Anarchy, which will feature King’s cameo as a guy named Bachman.

The comparatively rare King short story “The Crate,” which was adapted as one of the installments in Creepshow, will be reprinted in Shivers VI from CD Publications. (I also have a story in this massive anthology, by the way.)

News From the Dead Zone #132

Still a few months to go before Full Dark, No Stars is published. However, Scribner has posted an excerpt from “A Good Marriage” which should whet your appetite for the collection. Craig Wasson (who was the reader for Blockade Billy) and Jessica Hecht will read the audio version, to be released simultaneously with the hardcover. There was a report that King would narrate introductions to each story, but the galleys don’t have story intros, just an afterward.

Remember Wilma (“Just call me Billy, everyone does”) from Creepshow, as portrayed by Adrienme Barbeau? That segment was based on the short story “The Crate,” originally published in Gallery magazine and later collected in a couple of anthologies around 1980-81. The story will see the light of day again in the CD anthology Shivers VI, which is bound for the printer next week. In addition to this relatively rare story, the anthology contains a Peter Straub novella and fiction from other familiar names, including yours truly.

King’s cameo appearance on Sons of Anarchy will air on FX on his birthday, September 21. His character’s last name is an homage to Richard Bachman.

King will be appearing at The New Yorker Festival on October 2nd, 2010. He will be part of a panel discussion on vampires along with Noel Carroll, Matt Reeves, and Melissa Rosenberg, moderated by Joan Acocella. Click here for more information about the Festival.

After the current Gunslinger series finishes from Marvel, there will be a single issue in November focusing on Sheemie Ruiz called Sheemie’s Tale. “This is the story of one of the more powerful breakers in Thunderclap: The mentally handicapped, formerly mute young man known as Sheemie. He possesses the awesome power to shatter the very Beams that hold the Dark Tower in place—the fulcrum of existence itself. But Sheemie does not want to destroy the underpinnings of reality. He is in the prison of Devar-Toi and all he wants is his friends—his ka-tet to come for him. And one of them is coming for him even now. One of them known as the last gunslinger, Roland Deschain. And not all the horrors of Thunderclap will stand in his way! Presented by those twin titans of Marvel’s Dark Tower books—writer Robin Furth and artist Richard Isanove. It’s a journey of searching and salvation you won’t soon forget.”

Time is running out to get your photo submissions in to Stephen’s Empire.

Here’s a neat story about a Canadian musician who got permission to set the words of Sara Tidwell from Bag of Bones to music: Stephen King takes shining to Toronto blues singer.

Recent Entertainment Weekly columns:

“The Roller Coaster’s Heartbeat” by Norman Partridge

The Roller Coaster’s Heartbeat
by Norman Partridge

When I was a kid, I had a couple of recurring dreams. One of them involved surviving (and sometimes not surviving) a full-on zombie apocalypse. The other involved the Giant Dipper, the great old roller coaster at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

And, yep, for you fans of eighties horror movies, that’s the same roller coaster in The Lost Boys. My dream had nothing to do with teenage vampires, though. In it, some friends and I were making the slow, initial ascent along the steep grade at the beginning of the ride, gearing up for the big plunge which set the coaster into overdrive.

Except that’s not the way it worked in my dream. Halfway up the track the Giant Dipper started to sway. Quicker than you could scream “Earthquake!”, we knew that we were in trouble. Our car stalled out. Old white-washed two-by-fours creaked beneath us like an arthritic skeleton. Nails screamed and boards started splintering. Scrambling, my buddies and I piled onto the track and started pushing the car to the top of the grade, figuring our only chance of survival was getting it over the hump, jumping back in, and riding the roller coaster to safety before the whole thing collapsed like a pile of Pick-Up-Sticks. In my dream we’d put our shoulders to it and muscle that car, and we’d work against gravity, and we’d gain inches and backslide feet and start again. Sometimes we’d make it, and sometimes we wouldn’t. In that way, I guess the odds of surviving crumbling roller coasters and zombie apocalypses are a lot alike.

Anyway, the last few days I’ve been remembering my roller coaster dreams as I work on a novella. At first I thought it would be a short story — hoped so, anyway, because I had already jumped the deadline — but then it turned into something bigger. Which is kind of like setting out to build a carny ride and building a Giant Dipper instead. Still, I kept at it, hammering up two-by-fours, slapping on white paint, doing some John Henry action nailing down steel rails… In other words making progress, but a little bit too slowly to make me happy, and with too much uncertainty to let me rest easy at night.

Oh, I’d done all right up to a point. I’d laid track for half the story. The plot was going fine, and the characters were developing nicely. An aside: I’m one of those guys who figures out how to write a story by doing just that — writing. I don’t necessarily know a lot going in. Usually I start off with the seed of an idea, or maybe an opening image enticing enough to start me looking for the tale that goes along with it. I play with those initial bits of inspiration, and I wait for the creative cylinders to fire in my imagination that’ll give me more.

Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. If things take off, I settle in and keep at it line by line. I tend to write stories in sections that are two to five pages long, and I craft the early ones as if I’m building a foundation, and then a framework. I outline as I go, jotting notes on 3″ x 5″ catalog cards I’ve scavenged from library jobs (yes, I believe in recycling). Most of these notes focus on plot and character. But as I get in further into a piece, I begin to look for something else… something that will stitch together the aforementioned elements and jolt enough lightning into the whole enterprise to make the story’s blood start pumping.

I don’t like to define what that something else is too exactly. Oh, I could try. I could crank out some terms from Lit Theory 101 and toss them your way, but those always seem a little antiseptic to me. Or too specific. Let’s just say what I’m looking for in that something else is the heart of the story. Beating, bloody, and alive. And, hey, I admit that’s a little visceral, but that’s the way I like it (which is probably no surprise considering that so far in this essay my Metaphorical MixMaster has churned up zombie apocalypses, roller coaster calamities, and even John Henry — all I can say is, at least I’m sparing you any boxing metaphors this time out).

Anyway, that something else is what every story really needs. Plot is fine, so is character, but the heart is what the story’s really about. It’s what makes the other elements live and breathe. And while the heart may develop from the plot or the characters, I don’t necessarily hear it pumping until I’m well into a tale. Working that way can be kind of scary, like performing an operation when I can’t even feel the patient’s pulse.

Which means that sooner or later I have to get in there with the literary equivalent of a defibrillator to get things pumping. And that’s why — for me, anyway — writing the first half of a story is usually a lot harder (and slower) than writing the second half. To get back to my dream of the Giant Dipper, it’s like that long and desperate slog pushing the roller coaster car up the grade, muscling it towards that exhilarating race down the other side that ends with this writer’s two favorite words: The End. For me, that slog is the hardest work there is in writing, and the most frustrating. Plus, there’s no way around it. Either I find the story’s heartbeat and muscle my roller coaster car over the hump, or I don’t… in which case the tale hits the dead file, making the sad transition from “work in progress” to “story fragment ready to join yesterday’s coffee grounds in the garbage pail, along with that tuna-fish can the cat licked out.”

That’s the uncertain territory I’ve been charting with this novella for the last week. It stalled out on me, but I kept my shoulder to it and kept pushing. Even in moments when I wasn’t rereading the manuscript, the story didn’t stray far from my thoughts. I spent several days looking for its heart. Rereading what I’d already written. Thinking about the situation I’d set up. Thinking about the characters I’d created, and who they are, and where they’re going, and why. Thinking about sound and fury (because there’s a lot of that in this story), and what it should signify, and what an empty deal the whole tale would amount to if I couldn’t get a clue about that.

And that’s when I started to hear the first murmur of a heartbeat. The story takes place in the old West, and it’s about a group of characters looking for a mythical place that may or may not exist… a cave where dead men hunger for the blood of the living and humans are treated like so much cattle. Fifteen pages in, I had my guys sitting around a campfire out in the desert, listening to the youngest among them tell a story about the place. He’s the only one who claims to have been there, the only one who knows (at this point in the story) whether the cave is real or not. That’s the scene where I hit a wall, and my unlikely band of adventurers sat there for several days waiting for me to push their story forward. The wind whipped around them and the campfire crackled, and I hunted for words right along with the narrator. I thought about those men — the preacher, the bounty killer, the blacksmith, the dynamite man, and the kid with the scorched face who earns his money telling stories in a bar. And it was that last thing that finally struck home. Because each of those characters had his own story, but for a couple of them those stories were a kind of currency. I thought about that currency, and — most importantly — how those two men used it. And pretty soon I began to hear a heartbeat out there in that desert, and that’s when I knew I’d found my tale.

Right now, I’m hearing that heartbeat loud and clear. So let me say adios and get back to work. I’m over the hump. It’s time to pile into my metaphorical MixMaster of a roller coaster alongside John Henry and those post-apocalyptic zombies, and take it for a ride.

Excerpt From Johnny Halloween by Norman Partridge

THE JACK O’ LANTERN:
A DARK HARVEST TALE

Cornstalks crackle as the October Boy shoulders into a small clearing. Moonlight fills that scooped hunk of the world, where stalks are rat-gnawed nubs trampled by a larger predator… a predator the Boy scents.

The scent is immediate. It hangs heavy as a shroud. The cool north wind combing the fields this Halloween night cannot banish it. The Boy’s viney fingers twine tightly around the hilt of the butcher knife that fills his hand, as if he’ll have to cut himself free of the stink before he can move so much as an inch.

But hesitation — real or imagined — is not a quality contained within the growing armature of the October Boy’s body. He steps forward, his carved pumpkin head twisting on its braided-vine neck, beams of orange light spilling from his triangular eyes as he examines the shorn clearing.

There’s a thing on the ground in the center of the circle. Another carved head, but one not like his own. Lanternlike, it burns. Flickering in the darkness, tongues of fire licking moisture within its hollowed confines. Casting a grinning shadowface that stretches across trampled stalks to the the Boy’s severed-root feet. Spilling those predatory scents in this territory marked as his own, a stench that is nothing like the wild October scents of cool fall nights and cinnamon-laced gunpowder that have marked his birth and will mark his death.

The candy heart trapped in the Boy’s woven chest beats faster as he travels the grinning map cast at his feet. He closes on the thing in the center of the circle. The shadowface gleams, its reflection contained on the polished surface of his blade as the Boy bends low. Yes, fire lives inside this carved head. Yes, the hollowed mouth spits moist crackles. Yes, a rabid grin spreads wider than any mouth can stretch, and its eyes are wells roiling with flame, and it is both exhibit and proof of a madman’s art. But this strange Jack o’ Lantern is nothing like a brother to the pumpkin-headed creature that holds the knife. This face — what remains of it — is not a carved product of the dark earth. It is a construct of flesh and bone. A human head, cored and hollowed — a half-dozen candles flickering within scraped red confines. Grinning a lipless grin over purple gums, a grin with bloodstained teeth rooted in a mouth that laughs no more.

But somewhere out there in the darkness, the October Boy hears laughter.

It lingers until it is eclipsed by another sound.

The sound of gunfire.

* * *

The Boy whirls away from the flickering Jack o’ Lantern. But there’s nothing out there to see but night, and stars, and the dull glow of the town waiting beyond.

He is alone in this clearing. The predator who lurked in this place is gone. Only the killer’s trophy remains. In the end, this matters little to the October Boy, for tonight he too is a trophy. One that travels on two legs, destined to be slain if he makes a single misstep. One that knows this clearing is but a brief stop on a run that is a dead heat, with odds that never fall in his favor.

Another booming blast beckons him. And another. The October Boy cannot linger here, not if he wants a chance at staying alive. He is built for movement. This is what he must do to survive the human gauntlet that waits ahead in the night.

So the Boy turns his back, following his shadow away from the light cast by the mangled skull.

The black road waits.

A whisper through the corn, and he is on it.

Click here to read more about this book or to place your order!

News From the Dead Zone #131

Stephen King wants you to help him build his empire! “After 36 years (give or take) of writing stories, I find myself hungry—not for food, but for power. I’ve decided to build a virtual empire, but I need your help. Please pitch in and help me feed my insatiable appetite for grandiosity.” For more details, see his post here.

Just over a week to go (July 9)  until the premiere of Haven on SyFy. This is the TV series inspired by The Colorado Kid. Here’s an article about filming in Nova Scotia. Here’s a video of the cast discussing the series. This link has synopses of the first four episodes.

Full Dark, No Stars is still several months away, but here is the Amazon/UK description of the book and its stories:

‘I believe there is another man inside every man, a stranger…’ writes Wilfred Leland James in the early pages of the riveting confession that makes up ‘1922’, the first in this pitch-black quartet of mesmerising tales from Stephen King, linked by the theme of retribution.  For James, that stranger is awakened when his wife Arlette proposes selling off the family homestead and moving to Omaha, setting in motion a gruesome train of murder and madness.

In ‘Big Driver’, a cozy-mystery writer named Tess encounters the stranger is along a back road in Massachusetts when she takes a shortcut home after a book-club engagement. Violated and left for dead, Tess plots a revenge that will bring her face to face with another stranger: the one inside herself.

‘Fair Extension’, the shortest of these tales, is perhaps the nastiest and certainly the funniest.  Making a deal with the devil not only saves Harry Streeter from a fatal cancer but provides rich recompense for a lifetime of resentment.

When her husband of more than twenty years is away on one of his business trips, Darcy Anderson looks for batteries in the garage. Her toe knocks up against a box under a worktable and she discovers the stranger inside her husband.  It’s a horrifying discovery, rendered with bristling intensity, and it definitively ends ‘A Good Marriage’.

Like Different Seasons and Four Past Midnight, which generated such enduring hit films as The Shawshank Redemption and Stand by Me, Full Dark, No Stars proves Stephen King a master of the long story form.

For those of you interested in such details: 1922 is 96 manuscript pages, A Good Marriage is 63 manuscript pages, Big Driver is 82 manuscript pages and Fair Extension is 25 manuscript pages.

Here is King’s report from his visit to the set of season three of the FX series Sons of Anarchy. He has a cameo in the third episode. He will play a quiet loner who appears in Gemma’s (Katey Sagal) time of need. The producers learned that King was a fan of the drama, so they reached out to him for a possible cameo.

Here’s the video of King’s unannounced “visit” to Good Morning America during Justin Cronin’s appearance to promote The Passage.

A NY Times Review of Blockade Billy, with interview. Billy’s darkness is not as frightening as many of King’s characters. “At least Steve avoided turning him into a vampire,” [King’s agent] Verrill said.

Recent Entertainment Weekly columns:

Here is a good write up, with pictures, of the recent LA event where King was presented a Literary Award At The 15th Annual Los Angeles Public Library Awards Dinner

News From the Dead Zone #130

“Things are happening and they are happening fast,” Stephen King says about recent news articles about developments in a possible Dark Tower adaptation. “Any reports you see might be taken with a grain of salt for the next couple of weeks. You will know the news from the official source as soon as we are able to post it,” the official source being www.stephenking.com, of course. The announced plan has Ron Howard directing a movie or movies for Universal, scripted by Akiva Goldsman, produced by Brian Grazer, that would then lead into a TV series.

Mick Garris will be directing a four-hour miniseries adaptation of Bag of Bones that might air on network television sometime next year. “Bag of Bones is something we tried to do as a feature for two or three years,” Garris tells Dread Central. “But the way features are now, if it’s not about teenagers or a sequel or a remake, forget it. We wanted to do something much more adult and passionate than studios are making now. It’s a ghost story for grown-ups. Television is the only place you can do that.” Check out a video of his conversation with Dread Central.

Speaking of video, here’s an hour long video of King at the Cultural Center of Charlotte County, Florida. As part of his appearance, he reads the short story “The Old Dude’s Ticker,” which is only available in The Big Book of NECON.

Did you see a familiar name in the early pages of Blockade Billy? One “Ben Vincent,” who hits one out of the park? Hey, people have fared far worse in Stephen King novels. I was thrilled to be Tuckerized this way. By the way, the Scribner edition of this story will also contain the Shirley Jackson Award nominated “Morality,” originally published in Esquire. The audio version is narrated by Craig Wasson, to whom King devoted his April 23/30 Entertainment Weekly column. You can hear an excerpt from the story here.

The SyFy TV series Haven is in production in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada. There’s a brief teaser here. The pilot is directed by Adam Kane and stars Emily Rose,  Lucas Bryant, Eric Balfour, Richard Donat and John Dunsworth. The show premieres on July 9.

News from the Dead Zone #129

Of course the big news is the pending publication of Blockade Billy, a novella or novelette or novelesque, or something like that. It’s a baseball story with a twist, published by CD Publications this month. Of the book King says, “”I love old-school baseball, and I also love the way people who’ve spent a lifetime in the game talk about the game. I tried to combine those things in a story of suspense. People have asked me for years when I was going to write a baseball story. Ask no more; this is it.” The story reveals the secret life of William “Blockade Billy” Blakely, a man who may have been the greatest player the game has ever seen, although today no one remembers his name. He was the first — and only — player to have his existence completely removed from the record books. Even his team is long forgotten, barely a footnote in the game’s history. As you read the story, be on the lookout for a character with a very familiar name…

Scribner plans to release an audio version of the story in May. Publishers Weekly says (in part): this suspenseful short is a deftly executed suicide squeeze, with sharp spikes hoisted high and aimed at the jugular on the slide home.

The four stories contained in King’s next book, Full Dark, No Stars are:  1922 (The story opens with the confession of Wilfred James to the murder of his wife, Arlette, following their move to Hemingford, Nebraska onto land willed to Arlette by her father),  Big Driver (Mystery writer, Tess, has been supplementing her writing income for years by doing speaking engagements with no problems. But following a last-minute invitation to a book club 60 miles away, she takes a shortcut home with dire consequences), Fair Extension  (Harry Streeter, who is suffering from cancer, decides to make a deal with the devil but, as always, there is a price to pay), and A Good Marriage (Darcy Anderson learns more about her husband of over twenty years than she would have liked to know when she stumbles literally upon a box under a worktable in their garage).

King says that he “originally used Hemingford Home in The Stand because I wanted to put Mother Abigail in the American heartland. That’s Nebraska. Hemingford was in the right place. … I love Nebraska and keep going back to it in my fiction — when I’m not in Maine, that is.”

Haven, the new SyFy series inspired by The Colorado Kid, will premiere on Friday, July 9. “It’s definitely based on the characters of ‘The Colorado Kid, but I would say it’s about a girl named Audrey [Parker], who’s an orphan and becomes an FBI agent,” star Emily Rose says. “She ends up getting sent on this case up in Maine. When she goes up there, she kind of starts having these things happen to her, and she sort of starts feeling like she’s been called home. Paranormal things happen, and some exciting things happen for her, and it’s not only her unraveling this murder case, but kind of unraveling the case of herself, honestly. It’s pretty fascinating.” Lucas Bryant and Eric Balfour also star in the series.

Dolan’s Cadillac is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray. My advice: rent it or skip it. I’ll have a full review in an upcoming issue of CD magazine.

Recent Entertainment Weekly columns: Stephen King on the Academy Awards, and Stephen King on the Kindle and the iPad. You might also be interested in Stephen King’s scary list: commercial radio, contemporary country music