Stephen King: News from the Dead Zone #174

When it was announced that Lifetime would be behind a made-for-TV adaptation of “Big Driver,” the second novella from Full Dark, No Stars, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. The novella is dark and brutal, whereas Lifetime is better known for the kinds of stories that the novella’s protagonist writes—cozy mysteries—or romances. The network’s material is targeted at women, primarily. So what did that mean for this revenge tale? You’ll be able to see for yourself this Saturday at 8/7C when the movie premieres.

I had the chance to screen the film a couple of weeks ago and I’m here to tell you that it pulls few punches, if any. Tess is played by Maria Bello (Amy Rainey in Secret Window). She gets a last name in this version, Thorne, whereas she was just Tess in the novella. The plot plays out much the same as it did in King’s story. Tess drives herself to a nearby community where she is the featured guest at a brown bag luncheon and regales her sizable audience with the kinds of stories authors tell about themselves and their characters, and has the kinds of encounters writers often do with the public. The woman who organized the event suggests a shortcut that will get Tess home faster and, on a lonely road miles from civilization, Tess has a fateful encounter with the Big Driver. What happens next is brutal and, frankly, hard to watch. If you have any triggers about male-on-female violence, you may wish to avert your eyes. And even when the assault is over, the worst isn’t done for Tess. She has to crawl to freedom. Whoa. It makes me cringe just thinking about it now.

Ann Dowd from The Leftovers plays Rebecca Norville, Olympia Dukakis plays the physical manifestation of one of Tess’s characters, and Joan Jett plays the bartender at the Stagger Inn. Eastern Canada plays the part of New England—in fact, the movie was filmed just down the road from where Haven is shot. I recognize some of the roads, and I’m pretty sure Tess’s reading takes place on my alma mater’s campus, Dalhousie University. At least the external shots look like the old science library and nearby buildings. Events in the final act are somewhat condensed and restructured, but Tess still talks to Tom, her GPS, her cat, and with the characters in her novels, and sometimes they talk back. This monologue with non-human objects seems a bit awkward at first, but it works in general, and Bello is unquestionably the star here. It’s almost a one-woman show, and she nails it. Joan Jett is more of a novelty. She’s done a little acting, but she’s not entirely comfortable here.

There are a few grace notes added by screenwriter Richard Christian Matheson that add to the story’s overall symmetry and should put a smile on viewers’ faces despite the brutality. You can watch the trailer here.


This has been the month of Full Dark, No Stars adaptations. A Good Marriage opened a couple of weekends back in a limited theatrical release concurrent with Video On Demand. You can rent or buy it on iTunes or Google Play (I chose the latter so I could cast it to my television), and on the OnDemand sections of cable services. I had a hard time finding it on UVerse until I discovered it was listed under “S”—for Stephen King’s A Good Marriage. This adaptation, too, is quite faithful to the source material—as well it should be since King wrote the screenplay. Some of the character interactions in the final 10-15 minutes are different, but there are no real surprises here if you’ve read the novella.

King was all over the place promoting A Good Marriage, as well as appearing on the PBS series In Search of Our Fathers. Here are some links.

Mercy, the adaptation of “Gramma” starring the kid from The Walking Dead that’s been in the can for a while, is now available for purchase on iTunes. It will be available for rent shortly. Speaking of The Walking Dead, did you pick up the Creepshow “easter egg” in the season premiere?

JJ Abram’s adaptation of 11/22/63 will be a nine-hour limited series on Hulu. It is being described as a limited “event series,” but there will be opportunities for future subsequent seasons based on the story.

In this interview King did with MTV while promoting A Good Marriage, he discusses his thoughts on the Dark Tower movie adaptation. “It took me 35, 36 years to write ‘The Dark Tower.’ I can wait [for the movie],” King said. “We’ve been close a couple of times. I’m content to see what happens. Sooner or later, it’ll show up.” He explained why he chose to write the screenplay for A Good Marriage and also teased that Josh Boone’s cinematic version of The Stand may be two movies.

CBS has renewed Under the Dome for a third season.

The audio version of Revival is being read by David Morse, who has a strong King pedigree. He appeared in The Green Mile, Hearts in Atlantis and The Langoliers.

And stay tuned for a special announcement from Rich Chizmar on Halloween!

Stephen King: News from the Dead Zone #173

If you read back over my previous several posts here, you’ll see that they’ve all been leading up today, the launch of Season 5 of Haven, the Syfy TV series loosely based on The Colorado Kid. This season will consist of 26 episodes, spread over the fall and spring in two 13-episode blocks. I visited the set at the end of June, when they were working on the 7th and 8th episodes. This morning, I had the chance to see tonight’s episode, “See No Evil,” which starts immediately after the final moments of Season 4, at which point William had been tossed through the portal under the lighthouse and Audrey had become her original form of herself, Mara, a trouble-maker in the most literal form.

In the first episode, something destroys the lighthouse and the cavern beneath and, presumably, the portal. The main characters are scattered far and wide before the blast, so for a while no one knows where anyone else is, and some time is spent in getting everyone back together. Nathan is the first one to encounter “Audrey,” but she’s not the woman he loves. Not on the surface, anyway. Mara (and kudos to Emily Rose for creating such a different personality, someone who is as gleefully malign as William) has an agenda, and she’s not going to let anyone stand in her way. She wants to get William back, something she can only achieve by a doorway or, rather, via a thinny, which will be a familiar concept to Dark Tower fans. However, something vexes her plans. And Nathan hasn’t given up hope that Audrey is still inside somewhere and he can bring her back.

On another front, Duke is trying to find Jennifer, who is the only lighthouse person unaccounted for. And, of course, there’s a Trouble, which manifests itself in people having their eyes and/or mouths sewn shut with a leather cord that defies all efforts to remove it. Though everyone tries to impress on Dwight the importance of reining in Mara, he knows this Trouble has the potential to be deadly, so that’s his #1 priority. The repercussions of Audrey giving Duke back his Trouble in the penultimate episode last season also start to come to light, and it’s a doozy. And, based on the previews for the season I’ve seen so far, there are going to be callbacks to a lot of past Troubles. Mara made ’em, so she could potentially use them as weapons to achieve her nefarious goals.

And I’m very worried about Dave Teagues. Is he having morphine-induced nightmares or terrifying memories?

Interested in learning more about the origins of the Troubles? There’s a 16-page mini-comic in the Season 4 DVD, and a web series called Haven Origins coming on September 12. Here’s a trailer for it.


King will embark on a six-city book tour to promote the release of Revival. He will appear in New York City (Nov 11), Washington, DC (Nov 12), Kansas City, MO (Nov 13), Wichita, KS (Nov 14), Austin, TX (Nov 15) and South Portland, ME (Nov 17). Further details regarding the itinerary will be posted on King’s official website on September 15th.

Issue 1 of The Prisoner, the first cycle adapting The Drawing of the Three from Marvel, came out this week. For the first time, these comics are being offered digitally as well as in print.

In case you missed it, King’s latest short story “That Bus Is Another World” appeared in the August issue of Esquire. Also, here is King’s response to the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS. And here is an interview with King about how he teaches writing, from the Atlantic.

The PBS series Finding Your Roots will feature King in its first episode of the new season on September 23. In this promo, King is shown a photo of his father and in this one, he learns more about his distant ancestors.

Encore is running King movies every day during September, with a special selection scheduled for King’s birthday.

There’s lots of news on the movie/TV front. Let’s hit the high spots:

  • A Good Marriage will be in cinemas and available via Video On Demand on October 3. ‘We went in fearlessly’: Stephen King on adapting A Good Marriage for film.
  • Big Driver will premiere on Lifetime on Saturday, October 18 at 8pm ET/PT. The movie stars Maria Bello, Olympia Dukakis, Joan Jett, Will Harris and Ann Dowd (from The Leftovers). The script is by Richard Christian Matheson, with Mikael Salomon directing. Here is a teaser video.
  • Mercy, the film adaptation of “Gramma,” will be “dumped to digital” in October. I assume this means it’s going straight to Video On Demand.
  • Mr. Mercedes will be a 10-episode TV series. Jack Bender will be on the production team.
  • CBS has ordered a “put pilot” (a serious commitment) from Warner Bros. TV for a series based on “The Things They Left Behind.” It is described as a supernatural procedural drama in which an unlikely pair of investigators carry out the unfinished business of the dead.
  • Mark Romanek will direct Overlook Hotel, the prequel to The Shining.
  • In this video, King discusses his involvement with the second season of Under the Dome, which is nearing the end of its second season. There are also a couple of good interviews with him: Stephen King Isn’t Afraid Of The Big Bad Adaptation and Written by — and tweaked for TV by — Stephen King
  • Now that Cell has wrapped, King teased what he could about the film. “The movie is not totally close to the original screenplay that I wrote,” he said. “But I’ll tell you what, the end of it is so goddamn dark and scary. It’s really kind of a benchmark there.”
  • Writer Jeff Buhler has come aboard director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo’s Pet Sematary reboot for Paramount. He discusses the project with Dread Central.
  • The Stand director Josh Boone says: I finished writing the script maybe a month ago. Stephen [King] absolutely loved it. It’s, I think, the first script ever approved by him. [It’ll be] a single version movie. Three hours. It hews very closely to the novel…I don’t imagine we would shoot the movie until next Spring at the earliest. His full comments are available at Collider.

Stephen King: News from the Dead Zone #166

Mr. Mercedes debuted in the #1 position on the Publishers Weekly hardcover fiction list and #2 on USA Today’s mixed fiction list (which includes paperbacks). There is a lot of associational material to explore at King’s official website. For example, there’s The Basement, an interactive adventure that takes you into Brady’s domain, where you can delve into the things that are stored on his array of PCs. For some clues on how to get started, it helps to watch the video of Brady’s letter to Detective Hodges. There’s also a book trailer, a saucy TV commercial, an excerpt from the audio book, some “merch” at the Cafe Press store, and a letter from KingTemple Hill and Media Rights Capital have acquired the movie rights to the novel. King talks about the real-life incident that inspired the novel here, but to-date he has only given one interview. There’s also a collection of many of the reviews on his site, and I have another collection of reviews here.

Hodder & Stoughton also produced a whimsical series of promos in which the villain of Mr. Mercedes is introduced by the likes of Annie Wilkes, Carrie White, Andy Dufresne, Pennywise and Danny Torrance.

The big news, of course, is the fact that Mr. Mercedes is the first book in a proposed trilogy. King has already finished the first draft of the second novel, which will be called Finders Keepers. The tentative publication date is sometime in the first half of 2015. King says that the three books “seem to revolve around the City Center Massacre that opens Mr. Mercedes.”

Before we get to Finders Keepers, though, we have Revival, which comes out in November. The newly released paperback edition of Doctor Sleep contains an eight-page excerpt of that novel. And there is a good possibility of a collection in late 2015, bringing together all of the recent short story appearances, including some of those that you can find on my list here. No word yet on whether there will be any brand new stories in the collection. The third book in the Mr. Mercedes trilogy will presumably be out in 2016. I don’t think we’ve known King’s publication schedule so far in advance since 1986-7, when we knew about the next four books he planned to publish.

Big news for people who haven’t had a chance to see Ghost Brothers of Darkland County yet. The musical play will go on tour this fall, with dates in Orono, Toronto, Philadelphia, Durham, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Red Bank, N.J., Portland, ME, Boston, Providence, New York, Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Denver, Phoenix, Los Angeles and San Francisco in November and December. See the announcement here.

Just a few weeks until the return of Under the Dome, with the first episode scripted by King. You can see a 30-second clip of King reading the opening section of the episode. On June 23, CBS will run Inside Chester’s Mill, a one-hour special that features highlights from last season and new interviews with the cast and executive producers. In addition, the special will have an advance sneak peek at the season two premiere. The second season will be missing its original showrunner and executive producer Brian K. Vaughan.

Although it had a premiere in New York in April, there’s been very little news about the fate of the film version of A Good Marriage. Last week, though, it was announced that Screen Media Films acquired North American rights to the film, with plans to distribute it in early October, with a nationwide theatrical release accompanied by a day-and-date VOD platform release. “I’m delighted that A Good Marriage is going to be available to the movie going public very soon, and hope we can scare the hell out of millions of people,” King said. “To me, that’s always an exciting prospect.”

Josh Boone, currently riding high with his film adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars, promises a three-hour R-rated single film adaptation of The Stand with “an amazing A-list cast across the board…Every single one of those characters will be somebody you recognize and somebody you relate to. And it’s gonna be awesome.” The only person named as a potential cast member is Nat Wolff. Of course, Boone isn’t the first director to try to get a grip on this remake.

In other movie news, the story that is thus far only available in French and German, Bad Little Kid, has been optioned by Laurent Bouzereau , who wrote and directed the 2011 TCM film A Night at the Movies: The Horrors of Stephen King, which featured King discussing horror films and their popularity with moviegoers.

Oculus and Somnia director Mike Flanagan has committed todirect Gerald’s Game. Flanagan wrote the script with his writing partner Jeff Howard. There’s also an unconfirmed rumor that Gravity director director Alfonso has been approached to direct a prequel to The Shining titled The Overlook Hotel.

TNT is developing  a TV series called The Shop, billed as a sequel to Firestarter. The drama centers on the insidious agency responsible for kidnapping and attempting to exploit the psychokinetic powers of a young girl named Charlie McGee in the original story. Now it’s 20 years later and Charlie has been tracked down by one of The Shop’s former members, Henry Talbot, who introduces her to a group of people with their own unique abilities. From the announcement: “It turns out The Shop is very much alive, bigger and badder than ever, and its dark experiments are unleashing terrifying new entities on the world. It’s now up to Talbot, Charlie and the rest of the team to find The Shop and destroy it for good.”

Here’s a fun dialog between King and Damon Lindelof, as captured by Entertainment Weekly.

The Marvel graphic novel adaptation of the Dark Tower series returns in September with the five-issue series The Prisoner, which tells the backstory of Eddie Dean before he met Roland. You can check out the cover and the first pages here. The artist is Piotr Kowalski. Here’s the promo text: As this tale of urban crime opens, you’ll meet Eddie Dean as an innocent child who grows into a troubled young man gifted with the ability to open doors to other worlds. Can he survive family tragedy, a haunting addiction, and the deadly forces that conspire to stop him from challenging the Man in Black? Eddie faces trials and tribulations at every turn – and the badlands of Mid-World can’t hold a candle to the dangers of Brooklyn in the 1960s! Witness the story of a young man on the path to an unlikely destiny and the most important journey of his life.

Stephen King: News from the Dead Zone #164

In case you haven’t heard the news yet, Cemetery Dance recently announced a deal to create Deluxe Special Editions of the six books King published with Doubleday. The series launches this summer with Carrie. Check the link for specifics, including the artist, cover art, and the extra material that will appear in the book.

We’re less than two months away from the publication date of Mr. Mercedes, and the first reviews have started to show up. Publishers Weekly’s review came first, calling it a “suspenseful crime thriller” and lauding King for his disturbing portrait of the book’s villain, Brady, “a genuine monster in ordinary human form who gives new meaning to the phrase ‘the banality of evil.'” Then came the Booklist review, which concludes: “No need to rev the engine here; this baby will rocket itself out of libraries with a loud squeal of the tires.” My review will appear in the next issue of Cemetery Dance magazine, but I loved it. I’ve been waiting for King to write a non-supernatural crime novel for ages and at last my wish is granted. And PW is right: Brady is one twisted guy. He’s not at all sympathetic, but he’s fascinating. And Bill Hodges is a comfortable narrator / protagonist to spend five hundred pages with. The audiobook will be narrated by Will Patton.

King’ second book of the year is Revival, which will be out on November 11. Here is the synopsis:

In a small New England town, over half a century ago, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister. Charles Jacobs, along with his beautiful wife, will transform the local church. The men and boys are all a bit in love with Mrs. Jacobs; the women and girls feel the same about Reverend Jacobs—including Jamie’s mother and beloved sister, Claire. With Jamie, the Reverend shares a deeper bond based on a secret obsession. When tragedy strikes the Jacobs family, this charismatic preacher curses God, mocks all religious belief, and is banished from the shocked town.

Jamie has demons of his own. Wed to his guitar from the age of 13, he plays in bands across the country, living the nomadic lifestyle of bar-band rock and roll while fleeing from his family’s horrific loss. In his mid-thirties—addicted to heroin, stranded, desperate—Jamie meets Charles Jacobs again, with profound consequences for both men. Their bond becomes a pact beyond even the Devil’s devising, and Jamie discovers that revival has many meanings.

This rich and disturbing novel spans five decades on its way to the most terrifying conclusion Stephen King has ever written. It’s a masterpiece from King, in the great American tradition of Frank Norris, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Edgar Allan Poe.

To thank all his German and French fans for their warm welcome during his Doctor Sleep book tour last fall, King wrote a novella, “Bad Little Kid”, which is available in e-book format in German (Böser kleiner Junge) and French (Sale Gosse). You can’t buy it in the US at the moment, but it is available in Canada and the UK (but not in English). I wrote an article / review for FEARnet, probably my last piece for that market, which was gobbled up by Comcast last week.

And, no, he isn’t writing a sequel to Christine called Christine Lives as was announced on April 1.

King will appear in a cameo role in the first episode of the second season of Under the Dome, which launches on June 30. According to an article in USA Today, he wrote the episode, titled “Heads Will Roll,” and will show up in the town’s diner as “just a citizen of Chester’s Mill for at least the moment.” Check out the article for a photo of King being served coffee at Sweet Briar Rose. Several new characters will be introduced this season, including barbershop owner Lyle Chumley (Dwight Yoakam), Big Jim’s late wife Pauline (Sherry Stringfield), his brother-in-law, Sam Verdreaux (Eddie Cahill), teacher Rebecca Pine (Karla Crome), Greg (Dwayne Boyd), and Melanie (Grace Victoria Cox), a character pulled from the lake by Julia at the end of the first season. If you haven’t seen it already, be sure to check out this promotional video of King “tweeting from the set.”

During his Emerald City Comicon Secret Origins panel, Peter David revealed that Marvel will resume adapting the Dark Tower series with The Drawing of the Three, without providing any timeline. He told the story of how he pitched the idea when King came to visit him while he was convalescing after suffering a stroke.

In other comic news, Walter Simonson’s 22-page Lawnmower Man Artist’s Edition portfolio, collecting the entire story into a deluxe portfolio from IDW, is set to arrive in time for San Diego’s Comic-Con International in July.

King has a short non-fiction piece called “The Ring” in Tin House, Issue, 59, Volume 15, Number 3. The theme for the issue is Memory and King’s 2-page essay is about their wedding rings and the day they got married.

He and Karen Russell talk about their books Doctor Sleep and Sleep Donation in this interview posted at Goodreads.

Joyland, which is now available as an e-book for the first time, was nominated by the Mystery Writers of America for an Edgar in the Best Paperback Original category. Doctor Sleep was nominated for a Thriller Award in the Best Hardcover Novel category by the International Thriller Writers.

The latest movie adaptation, A Good Marriage, premieres in New York on Thursday, April 24.

Josh Boone (The Fault in Our Stars) is in early talks to take over as director of The Stand for Warner Bros. and CBS Films. He will be at least the fourth potential director for this project. Boone is also currently attached to direct a movie version of Lisey’s Story.

Cary Fukunaga, fresh off his recent success directing HBO’s True Detective, is working on a script for the two-part remake of It. It appears that the first part will be about the kids and the second part about the adults. Fukunaga said, “There will be no spider at the end of our movie. We’re definitely honoring the spirit of Stephen King, but the horror has to be modernized to make it relevant. That’s my job, right now, on this pass. I’m working on making the horror more about suspense than visualization of any creatures. I just don’t think that’s scary. What could be there, and the sounds and how it interacts with things, is scarier than actual monsters.”

The SyFy series Haven was renewed for 26 more episodes, 13 to air this year and 13 for 2015, although they are all supposedly part of a single season. In a related concept, Universal TV is adapting the short story “Ayana” into a TV drama set in a world of miracles. The series has not been picked up by a network yet, though.

King has been interviewed for the PBS series Finding Your Roots, where “we trace people’s habitypes, which tell where your ancestors came from.” Dr. Henry Louis Gates’ interview with King will air later this year.

News from the Dead Zone #156

Since we last spoke, my book The Dark Tower Companion came out in trade paperback and eBook (Kindle | Nook). The reviews have been rolling in, so if you’re on the fence about buying a copy, check them out here. One of my favorites says, in part, “Bev Vincent … is so fluent in Mid-World, one gets the feeling he has gone through a doorway and visited. Really, you have the sense that he’s been there.”

Did you miss your chance to see Ghost Brothers of Darkland County when it played in Atlanta last year? If so, don’t despair. There are a couple of options available that will allow you to experience the show. First, you can order the soundtrack on iTunes or various other places. There’s a one-disc version that has the songs interspersed with select dialog from the play and a 2-disc deluxe set that comes with a trade paperback of the libretto and a DVD containing a Making of Ghost Brothers mini-documentary, featuring in-depth interviews with King, Mellencamp and Burnett along with the digital libretto and other bonus material. Then there’s the  3-disc version that has an additional CD that is just the music (no dialog) and a hardcover version of the libretto. The soundtrack will be available on June 4. Rolling Stone has been featuring individual tracks recently, including one of my favorite songs from the musical, Home Again.

On the other hand, maybe you’d rather see the play itself. If so, you may be pleased to hear that the show is going on tour, playing in 20 cities in the Midwest and Southeast beginning October 10 in Bloomington, IN, and ending November 6 in Grand Rapids, MI. Tickets go on sale Friday, May 17 at 10am at aeglive.com. The full list of cities and dates can be found here.

June 4 is also publication day for Joyland. Check out issue 70 of Cemetery Dance magazine for my review and an interview with Hard Case Crime publisher Charles Ardai. Thus far the only review has been from Publishers Weekly, and it’s a good one. The audiobook will be narrated by Michael Kelly. Last week it was announced that Tate Taylor (The Help) has optioned the film rights.

Cemetery Dance has revealed some of Vincent Chong’s spectacular artwork for their limited edition of Doctor Sleep here and here.

A Dollar Baby Film Festival will be part of Comicpalooza in Houston on the Memorial Day weekend. Twenty of these short films will be screened. I will be attending as a special guest. Shawn S. Lealos is hosting the event, screening his adaptation of “I Know What You Need” and promoting his upcoming book Dollar Deal: The Stories of the Dollar Baby Filmmakers.

The film adaptation of A Good Marriage is getting in gear. Filming will start in Sleepy Hollow, New York. Joan Allen and Anthony LaPaglia star as husband and wife, with Kristen Connolly playing their daughter. Stephen Lang plays a retired investigator from the Maine Attorney General’s office who is obsessed with solving a crime. Peter Askin is directing from King’s screenplay.

Only six more weeks until the premiere of Under the Dome, the summer series on CBS. Dean Norris (Breaking Bad), who plays Big Jim Rennie, tweeted a picture from the set with King recently. Cast members and producers discussed the series recently at Wondercon. You can see video of that panel at the bottom of this page. It’s hard to turn on ABC these days without seeing a promo for the show, but just in case you’ve missed them, here’s the latest teaser trailer. Be on the lookout for a shout-out to The Simpsons when the show airs. The plan is for this to be an ongoing series rather than a limited miniseries.

JJ Abrams has stepped in with a proposal to turn 11/22/63 into a TV series after Jonathan Demme recused himself from the project.

Season 4 of Haven began production recently. Eureka’s Colin Ferguson joins the cast as (what else?) a mysterious stranger.

The Dark Tower comics from Marvel are nearing the end of their run. The second issue of Evil Ground, the prequel to The Little Sisters of Eluria, comes out this month. Then, in July, a one-shot called So Fell Lord Perth ends the series.

Could the Dark Tower adaptation find its way to Netflix? Chief Creative Officer Ted Sarandos has revealed that he has talked to Ron Howard about the possibility. He says that he and Howard plan to continue their discussions after Arrested Development is finished.

Hard Listening is a forthcoming e-book by members of the Rock Bottom Remainders. It is a collection of essays, stories, musings, group email exchanges, candid conversations, compromising photographs, and audio and video (semi-musical) clips, as well as interactive quizzes. It will feature a new King story, as well as stories by some of his collaborators written to imitate him.

On July 18, King will appear at The Bushnell in Hartford, Connecticut, in conversation with WNPR radio personality Colin McEnroe. Proceeds from the event benefit the continuing educational and preservation activities of The Mark Twain House & Museum. He and son Owen will headline the PEN Canada annual benefit on October 24. The Q&A discussion will be moderated by the award-winning mystery writer, Louise Penny.

Want to blow your mind? Check out this flowchart of The Stephen King Universe. You may think you’ve seen it before, but it was recently updated to include the Dark Tower series.

 

News from the Dead Zone #152

The cover art for Joyland (see right) was released today. The book, from Hard Case Crime, will be released on June 4, 2013. The original publication will be in paperback only. Other editions (hardcover, electronic, audio) are possible but not currently scheduled. Joyland takes place in a small-town North Carolina amusement park, where college student Devin Jones arrives to work as a carny for the summer, but he ends up experiencing much more than he bargained for when he confronts the legacy of a vicious murder and the fate of a dying child. Read the entire press release.

Three months after Joyland, we’ll get Doctor Sleep, the sequel to The Shining. The publication date was announced earlier this week: September 24, 2013. The story picks up with Dan Torrance (formerly Danny), who is now middle-aged and working at a hospice in rural New Hampshire. He meets Abra Stone, a very special twelve-year old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals known as The True Knot, quasi-immortal creatures that live off the ‘steam’ that children with the ‘shining’ produce when they are slowly tortured to death.

Have you ever read “Weeds,” the rare King story that was the basis for “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill” in Creepshow? If not, check out Shivers VII, which also features stories by Clive Barker, Ed Gorman, Bill Pronzini and many others, including me!

King’s short story “Batman and Robin Have an Altercation” appeared in the 9/12 issue of Harper’s Magazine, the first time he has published with them. “In The Tall Grass,” his collaboration with Joe Hill, first published in Esquire last summer, will be released as an audio book and an eBook in October. I wrote an essay about the story behind the story of “A Face in the Crowd” (which came out as an eBook and in audio on August 24) for FEARNet: Faces in the Crowd.

Movie news: Joan Allen will play the lead in The Good Wife, which should start filming next month. Rachel Nichols is in negotiations to join Justin Long in The Ten O’Clock People.

A group of filmmakers are working on a documentary called Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary. They have have already shot every location and filmed over two dozen interviews with the cast, crew and Maine locals who worked on the production, most of whom have never been interviewed on camera about their role in the film. John Campopiano says, “Our goal is to show the unique bridging of a relatively small Hollywood production with a small Maine community who continue to think highly of its involvement in the film. We’re also seeking to explore the legacy the film has established and how its core themes are being taught and explored in the film and academic worlds.”

Warner Bros.is quietly exploring the possibility of a prequel to The Shining. The studio has solicited Laeta Kalogridis and her partners to produce the proposed film, which would focus on what happened before the Torrances arrived at The Overlook. A WB spokeswoman cautioned that the project was in a very early stage and not even formally in development.

King, Dave Barry and The Rock Bottom Remainders, appeared on The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson. You can see it in its entirety here.

Earlier this week I received an advanced copy of Carrie: The Musical – Premiere Cast Recording from Ghostlight Records. For the first time ever, the music from the infamous Broadway adaptation is available, revised and updated for its recent reincarnation that closed after less than 50 performances (which is about ten times more than the original version). One motivation behind the reboot was to come up with a musical that could be licensed for productions across North America. The CD booklet has a reflection on the show’s history written by Lawrence D. Cohen, who wrote the book for the play as well as the script for the Brian De Palma film. Here’s a video for the opening song, “In.”

Matt Selman, an executive producer of The Simpsons, has undertaken the task of writing Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” as it would have been recorded in the universe of 11/22/63.

James Smythe has gotten as far as The Dead Zone in his chronological reread of King’s books.

Here is a trailer for Season 3 of Haven, which premieres this Friday night on SyFy.

The Wind Through the Keyhole will be out in paperback on November 6th.

Finally, I have to share this enthusiastic (6 out of 5!) video review of The Stephen King Illustrated Companion.

News from the Dead Zone #151

My 150th post was so memorable, so legen—wait for it—dary that I was hesitant to follow it up. Nah, I’ve just been busy with other stuff (a likely story). So, here it is, #151. All the news that’s fit to print, and even some that isn’t.

The hottest news is the pending publication of “A Face in the Crowd,” an e-book and audiobook short story co-written with Stewart O’Nan, release slated for August 21. You can read the plot synopsis at King’s website. If you find yourself saying, “Hey, that sort of sounds familiar,” there’s a good reason. King talked about this story idea in Faithful, also co-written with O’Nan, while discussing the Face Game, something he’d do to amuse himself while watching baseball games. “What if a guy watches a lot of baseball games on TV because he’s a shut-in or invalid…and one night he sees his best friend from childhood, who was killed in a car crash, sitting in one of the seats behind the backstop…After that the protagonist sees him every night at every game.” You can read the full passage from Faithful here. The idea stuck around. King mentioned it again at the end of his appearance at the Savannah Book Festival, where Stewart O’Nan was in attendance. You can hear King talking about it at the 1 hr 5 min mark of this video.

The next book to be published will probably be Joyland, which will be out from Hard Case Crime next June. Neil Gaiman spilled the beans about this crime novel in an interview with King published in the Sunday Times in April. The book will only be available in paperback at first because King wants people to experience it as a physical book. Presumably there will eventually be an eBook, too. Set in a small-town North Carolina amusement park in 1973, Joyland tells the story of the summer in which college student Devin Jones comes to work as a carny and confronts the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and the ways both will change his life forever. Publisher Charles Ardai calls the it “a breathtaking, beautiful, heartbreaking book. It’s a whodunit, it’s a carny novel, it’s a story about growing up and growing old, and about those who don’t get to do either because death comes for them before their time.  Even the most hardboiled readers will find themselves moved.”

Doctor Sleep, the sequel to The Shining, originally slated for a January 2013 release, has been pushed back to give King more time to work on revisions. A new release date has not yet been announced, but you can hear King read the opening section on the audiobook version of The Wind through the Keyhole.

Part 1 of “In the Tall Grass,” a novella co-written with Joe Hill, was published in the June/July issue of Esquire, with the conclusion following in the August issue. It’s a nasty little story about what happens to people who unwisely choose to listen to the Canadian rock group Rush while traveling cross-country.

Movie update: The remake of Carrie is currently in production, with Chloë Grace Moretz in the starring role. Julianne Moore, Judy Greer and Portia Doubleday are also in the movie, which is directed by Kimberly Peirce. Justin Long is starring in a feature film adaptation of “The Ten o’Clock People,” directed by Tom Holland (The Langoliers, Thinner). Both are slated for 2013 releases. At Cannes, there were reports that “The Reach” and “A Good Marriage” would be turned into films, too, but there’s been no further news since then, nor has there been anything else about SyFy’s plans to turn The Eyes of the Dragon into a 4-hour TV movie. There are still rumblings about a 2-movie remake of It, too, but who knows if that project will take off or not.

King played with the Rock Bottom Remainders at their last-ever gigs in California recently. Before the shows, King said,  “A few years ago, Bruce Springsteen told us we weren’t bad, but not to try to get any better otherwise we’d just be another lousy band. After 20 years, we still meet his stringent requirements. For instance, while we all know what ‘stringent’ means, none of us have yet mastered an F chord.” Kathy Kamen Goldmark, who came up with the idea for the band, passed away shortly before these shows. You can find some clips of their performances on YouTube. Here’s an article about the band in the L.A. Times.

King will take to the stage at the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell, offering fans the chance to hear him read his work, ask him questions and listen to him discuss his passion for writing and his advice for aspiring authors on Friday, Dec. 7 at 7:30 p.m.  See more about the event here.

Mark and Brian of KLOS hosted a wide-ranging interview with King recently You can listen to it here: Part 1 | Part 2.

Ghost Brothers of Darkland County may make the move to Broadway. Director Susan V. Booth plans to workshop the play in New York in September to try to arrange financial backing. In case you missed it in the awesomeness that was NFtDZ #150, here is my review of the Premiere at FEARnet.

James Smythe, a writer for the UK newspaper The Guardian, has read every King book and is now reading them again and reviewing them along the way. If you’re interested in following along, his first post on Carrie can be found here.

Season 3 of Haven is currently filming in Nova Scotia. The SyFy original series, based on The Colorado Kid (loosely based, that is), returns with thirteen new episodes on September 21. Hmmm. There’s something special about that date. Now, what could it be?

 

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 #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:

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 #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