News From The Dead Zone #10

Breaking News from the Dead Zone

Cell continues to do well, retaining its #1 position on the main bestseller lists.

People in Florida will have another chance to see King at a public event. He is filling in at the Seven Days of Opening Nights arts festival on February 26th at Florida State University after Richard Russo had to cancel because of a family medical crisis. Tickets purchased already for the Russo event will be honored. To purchase tickets, see this page. King has also agreed to conduct an informal masters class with graduate students from FSU’s film school and Creative Writing Program.

Locus magazine announced that King will edit The Best American Short Stories: 2007 for new series editor Heidi Pitlor at Houghton Mifflin. He will also write an introduction for a new edition of Dandelion Wine from PS Publishing.

News From The Dead Zone #9

Breaking News from the Dead Zone

According to several online TV listings, King will be on Late Night With Conan O’Brien tonight. Other guests include Ricky Gervais and Nickel Creek. I’m not sure if this is a new episode or a rerun of a previous appearance. Check your local listing for time and station.

Nicholas Sparks has this to say about King’s upcoming novel: “Lisey’s Story is a wondrous novel of marriage, a love story steeped in strength and tenderness, and cast with the most vivid, touching and believable characters in recent literature. I came to adore Lisey Landon and her sisters, I ached for Scott and all he’d been through, and when I finally reached the bittersweet and heartfelt conclusion, my first thought was that I wanted to start over again from the beginning, for it felt as if were saying good-bye to old friends. This is Stephen King at his finest and most generous, a dazzling novel that you’ll thank yourself for reading long after the final page is turned.”

Check out an interview with my buddy Glenn Chadbourne at Lilja’s Library.

News From The Dead Zone #8

Breaking News from the Dead Zone

The Amazon Fishbowl episode where Bill Maher interviews King is now online. One blogster wondered aloud how the folks at Amazon feel about the drug and booze discussion that was part of their 10-minute set. “Now, it’s one thing when you’re hearing this type of thing on late night TV, but on the front page of an e-tailer’s Web site? In broad daylight? While at work? It’s kind of a different brand resonance for Amazon than I expected. Will we be seeing more of this type of disconnect as programming becomes increasingly un-hitched from time-of-day (and expected place of consumption)?”

For all his apparent disdain of cell phones, don’t think for a minute that King is reactionary against all technology. He is quoted in a NY Times article as saying, “It wounds me to be called a technophobe” in a statement sent – as if to prove his point – by e-mail.

Here’s an article about Tom Gordon’s trade to Philly and his awareness of Stephen King.

News From The Dead Zone #7

Breaking News from the Dead Zone

King surprised people at his St. Petersburg appearance on Saturday by reading a new 7500-word short story called “Willa,” which was described by one attendee as being about a group of people waiting for a train to come pick them up after theirs was derailed. Here’s a report on the event. He hinted that one of his future books may have a Florida setting.

Here’s an article from the London Telegraph in which the author states: Maine man merits a literary coronation.

Tomorrow is Cell day, and the reviews are starting to emerge. Beware: they may contain spoilers.

News From The Dead Zone #6

Breaking News from the Dead Zone

Stephen King’s official web site has a page dedicated to Cell. Among the news: Entertainment Weekly will be running the first two chapters of Cell in their issue on stands January 20, 2006, as a first serial excerpt. This is the first time in the history of the magazine that they have run a fiction excerpt. Here’s Scribner’s press release about their campaign. Scribner publisher Susan Moldow says, ““For Annie Proulx or Don DeLillo, this might not be a good fit,” citing two of her authors with a more purely literary and less tech-oriented following than Mr. King. “For an author that has the kind of fan base Steve has, there’s a lot of potential.”

Lilja has an ongoing contest at his website where the daily prizes involve audio and hardcover copies of Cell.

King will be one of the first participants in a new webcast program Amazon is launching this summer, to be hosted by Bill Maher, featuring performers and authors touting new releases. The company plans to record the first show of Amazon Fishbowl at the Sundance Film Festival this weekend, with guests including authors Stephen King and Armistead Maupin, musician Rob Thomas and actress Toni Collette. It will then preview tidbits of that show beginning Tuesday and leading up to the June 1 launch. Read the press release here.

Here’s his latest Entertainment Weekly column.

News From The Dead Zone #5

Breaking News from the Dead Zone

Cell fever is building! Kirkus’s review is now online (may contain spoilers). The official Cell web page is active. If you sign up your cell phone number you’ll receive text message alerts in the coming days (standard charges will apply) and be entered in a contest to win cool signed stuff. Here’s a Wall Street Journal article about the marketing campaign.

See these articles for news about Creepshow 3, which involves neither King nor original director George Romero. The first, at MoviesOnline, shows the campy movie poster and the second at Hollywood News, lists the five new stories featuring unknown actors being adapted for this direct-to-DVD release.

William Hurt is currently in Australia filming “Battleground” for the TNT Nightmares and Dreamscapes series that will start airing in June.

News From The Dead Zone #4

Breaking News from the Dead Zone

Jan 13, 2005: It’s Friday the 13th, but that ain’t always a bad thing. Today we have Part 1 of an excerpt from the unpublished 1970 novel Sword in the Darkness published in The Australian. Check back next week for part 2. This is in association with the Australian release of Rocky Wood’s Stephen King- Uncollected and Unpublished. Sword is described as “a classic King horror story set in the pre-war woods of Maine, a study in love, madness and loss.”

Get your podcast receivers ready on February 9th for an exclusive interview 20-minute interview with King and an audio excerpt from Cell available from the Scribner web page. More details as they become available.

News From The Dead Zone #3

Mick Garris informs me that the official airdate for Desperation on ABC is Thursday, May 18th. This is a three-hour one-evening movie for television, not a miniseries. I’ve seen the first fifteen minutes of the film and it looks wonderful.
Read an interview with Rocky Wood, author of Stephen King: Uncollected, Unpublished.
King provided the opening two paragraphs to a serial story for the children’s magazine The Weekly Reader. King’s lead-in for a story called “The Furnace” introduces a 10-year-old boy named Tommy who is plunged into darkness while fetching wood from behind the furnace in the basement. Magazine readers were asked to submit continuations, with new lines or paragraphs being chosen from the best entries. R. L. Stine, Jane Yolan and other unspecified famous authors have agreed to add to the story throughout the year. The website also has a Q&A between King and students and a lengthier more formal interview.

Breaking News from the Dead Zone

Mick Garris informs me that the official airdate for Desperation on ABC is Thursday, May 18th. This is a three-hour one-evening movie for television, not a miniseries. I’ve seen the first fifteen minutes of the film and it looks wonderful.

Read an interview with Rocky Wood, author of Stephen King: Uncollected, Unpublished.

King provided the opening two paragraphs to a serial story for the children’s magazine The Weekly Reader. King’s lead-in for a story called “The Furnace” introduces a 10-year-old boy named Tommy who is plunged into darkness while fetching wood from behind the furnace in the basement. Magazine readers were asked to submit continuations, with new lines or paragraphs being chosen from the best entries. R. L. Stine, Jane Yolan and other unspecified famous authors have agreed to add to the story throughout the year. The website also has a Q&A between King and students and a lengthier more formal interview.

News From The Dead Zone #2

Breaking News from the Dead Zone

Happy New Year, readers. Those of you who ordered the limited edition of The Road to the Dark Tower should be seeing your copies soon if you haven’t received them already. Cemetery Dance is shipping copies as fast as they can pack ’em, and I’ve heard from people who’ve been notified by Amazon that their orders are being filled, too. I’m delighted at how the book turned out. The design is wonderful and I’m especially fond of the Tarot card endpapers.

I’m not much one to look back at the end of the year, or make resolutions or anything like that. However, since he started doing his column for Entertainment Weekly, King has done best-of lists for films, books and music from the previous year. Here are the columns that feature his lists:

If you haven’t heard about The Secretary of Dreams yet, then you’ve missed out on the chance to get a lettered or numbered edition, unless stray copies turn up between now and publication, which is anticipated sometime in the first half of the year. The graphic short story collection, illustrated by my buddy Glenn Chadbourne (who worked with us on The Illustrated Stephen King Trivia Book and illustrated The Road to the Dark Tower) adapts “The Road Virus Heads North,” “Uncle Otto’s Truck,” “The Rainy Season,” “The Reach,” “Jerusalem’s Lot,” and “Home Delivery.” What’s unique about these adaptations is that every word of the original stories is conserved. Check out the sample illustrations starting here and working your way through the six stories. Even better news: this is Volume I, which means Glenn will be working on a follow-up this year. This is going to be a gorgeous production that I’m looking forward to seeing.

I haven’t had a chance to work my completely through Stephen King: Uncollected, Unpublished yet, but I’m very impressed by what I’ve seen and read so far. I was surprised to rediscover how many of King’s stories had been substantially revised on repeat publications. Rocky Wood does a yeoman’s job of chronicling all these updates and revisions and makes me want to go back and reread stories in their original forms.

I’ve updated the Guide to Identifying First Editions, which appears on King’s official web page. It’s now current through The Colorado Kid and corrects a few errors and omissions in the original version.

King wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Times in response to a review of a D. H. Lawrence biography. He chastises the reviewer for thinking that a person may be “better able to understand a great writer by reading about him than by reading him.” It’s a riff on the line from Different Seasons: “It is the tale, not he who tells it,” which King updates by saying, “The writer’s rainbow is always found in his work.”

I’m putting the finishing touches on my column for Cemetery Dance magazine issue #55, with in depth coverage of Cell, which I read last week. I’ll have more to say about the book here as publication date approaches. If Richard Bachman hadn’t died before cell phones became part of our culture, this might have had his name on the cover. It’s a dark, gritty, pessimistic novel in many ways and stands in stark contrast to the fundamental optimism of The Stand. I’ll not say more on that subject until more of you have had a chance to read the book. Keep an eye out for the names of the headmaster of Gaiten Academy and a gentleman in a Miami Dolphins hat who appears late in the story. The Publishers Weekly review is online at Amazon. It’s relatively spoiler-free and concludes, “King’s imagining of what is more or less post-Armageddon Boston is rich, and the sociological asides made by his characters along the way…are jaunty and witty. The novel’s three long set pieces are all pretty gory, but not gratuitously so, and the book holds together in signature King style.”

Here is an interesting article about King’s appearance at the New Yorker festival last fall from the Sydney Morning Herald. Note the following snippet, which is surely the genesis of Cell.

King told a story about leaving a New York hotel to get a coffee one morning about six years ago. “A lady under the canopy was on her cell phone and the doorman was getting someone a cab. I thought, what if she got this message on her cell phone that she could not deny and she had to attack everyone she saw – and she started with the doorman, she ripped his throat out.”

The Scribner edition of Cell contains a sneak peak at Lisey’s Story. The first twelve pages of the book are presented in King’s own handwriting. The excerpt is not the same as what we’ve previously seen in “Lisey and the Madman.” The opening chapter is called “Lisey and Amanda (Everything the Same)” and deals with Lisey Landon two years after the death of her famous writer husband Scott. She’s finally going through his writing office, trying to decide what to do about his unpublished works. Amanda is her older sister, and there seems to be tension between the two. My feeling is that this book will be in the Bag of Bones vein.

Each time I update this online column, I’m going to tackle a FAQ, which comes either from questions I see on King’s message board or ones directed to me via e-mail.

Q: Does King have any plans to complete “The Plant”?

A: The short answer is: “It’s not on his to-do list at the moment.” When King stopped work after finishing Book One: Zenith Rising, he said that he felt like he was pushing the story instead of having it pull him along. That’s never a good feeling. My guess is that until the day comes when the story recaptures his imagination and sweeps him up again, “The Plant” will stay in its current state. Who knows? Someday a few years from now he may find new wind to breath life into the story. Those of us who bore with the Dark Tower series for two decades have learned patience toward the storyteller.

Have news, information, corrections? E-mail me!

News From The Dead Zone #1

Breaking News from the Dead Zone

Welcome to the first installment of the web version of News from the Dead Zone. Those of you who read Cemetery Dance magazine know that I’ve been publishing a column in every issue for nearly five years now. However, because of the magazine’s publication schedule, getting timely information out has been a little problematic. With the relaunch of their web site, the good folks at CD suggested doing an online “lite” version of my column. The magazine version will continue, focusing more on in-depth analysis, review and commentary than on breaking news.

Up top, you’ll always find a handy-dandy calendar of important, upcoming dates so you can see at a glance what’s on the horizon. Then I’ll expand briefly on each item as news is announced. Then follow up in the next issue of CD magazine for more details and commentary.

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The next book due out from King is called Cell, which will be published on January 24th, 2006. Here is the description from the publisher as posted to the Barnes & Noble web site.

Civilization doesn’t end with a bang or a whimper. It ends with a call on your cell phone.

What happens on the afternoon of October 1 came to be known as the Pulse, a signal sent though every operating cell phone that turns its user into something . . . well, something less than human. Savage, murderous, unthinking-and on a wanton rampage. Terrorist act? Cyber prank gone haywire? It really doesn’t matter, not to the people who avoided the technological attack. What matters to them is surviving the aftermath. Before long a band of them-“normies” is how they think of themselves-have gathered on the grounds of Gaiten Academy, where the headmaster and one remaining student have something awesome and terrifying to show them on the school’s moonlit soccer field. Clearly there can be no escape. The only option is to take them on.

Cell is classic Stephen King, a story of gory horror and white-knuckling suspense that makes the unimaginable entirely plausible and totally fascinating.

I should have a review for you in the next issue, but let me just say that this book is sure to inspire some interesting discussions, with comparisons to classic books like The Stand and darker tales like The Regulators. King describes the book as “like cheap whisky . . . very nasty and extremely satisfying.” I find it interesting that the main character in Cell is a graphic novel artist who has just sold his first major project, given the recent announcement of a graphic novel Dark Tower series (see below).

When you read the book, look out for a character named Ray Huizenga. His sister paid $25,100 in an eBay charity auction of character names benefiting the First Amendment Project. The real-life Huizenga is a fishing captain and longtime King fan, but is also the son of the owner of the Miami Dolphins. Huizenga beat out another strong bidder who was willing to take out a credit line on his house for the honor of having a character in Cell named after him.

* * *

The Dark Tower fan community was recently thrilled to learn that Marvel comics was planning to release a series of graphic novels based on untold Dark Tower stories. Originally planned for a May 2006 release, a recent memo on King’s web site revealed a new schedule for this project.

Stephen and Marvel have decided to push back the launch of the Dark Tower comic books to 2007. “Given the size of the project and all the creative talent involved, I want to give the Marvel series all the room to breathe it needs and deserves,” said Stephen. “I’ve got so much else going on in 2006-two novels coming out, Cell and Lisey’s Story, and the work with John Mellencamp on ‘Ghost Brothers of Darkland County.’ The Marvel series is going to be a blast, and I want to have the time to enjoy it.”

The 1st issue of the yet-to-be-named first arc of the Dark Tower comic series will be shipping in February 2007. The last issue of this six-issue series will be shipping in July 2007. The first hardcover collection will be shipping in October 2007.

Though original reports billed this project as The Dark Tower 8, in truth the stories will fill in some of the gaps in Roland’s early history, in the era covering the trip to Mejis and the final battle at Jericho Hill, “new stories that delve into the life and times of the young Roland, revealing the trials and conflicts that lead to the burden of destiny he must assume as a man.”

Jae Lee is the illustrator who will bring King’s stories to life, and the colorist is Richard Isanove. The complete number of series has not been announced, but there may be as many as six different stories.

Links:

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A stellar cast has been announced for the eight-part series Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King that will debut on TNT next June. Despite the show’s name, the stories actually come from several King collections. The eight stories being adapted are:

  • Umney’s Last Case
  • You Know They Got a Hell of a Band
  • The End of the Whole Mess
  • The Fifth Quarter
  • The Road Virus Heads North
  • Battleground
  • Crouch End
  • Autopsy Room Four

Though originally scheduled to be part of the series, Mick Garris’s adaptation of “Home Delivery” was shelved due to schedule changes for the series and his commitment to the Masters of Horror series on Showtime, which was recently renewed for a second season.

Among the cast members announced for the series are Steven Weber, Kim Delaney, William H. Macy, Henry Thomas, Tom Berenger, Marsha Mason, William Hurt and two actresses familiar from the recent ‘Salem’s Lot remake, Samantha Mathis and Rebecca Gibney. Richard Christian Matheson adapted “Battleground” and Lawrence M. Cohen (Carrie) penned “The End of the Whole Mess.” The show will run one episode per week during the summer months of 2006 starting with “Umney’s Last Case”—one of my favorite short stories—which will reportedly run without commercials. Filming is currently taking place in and around Sydney, Australia. An upcoming issue of Fangoria will feature a visit to the set.

* * *

King and his collaborator John Mellencamp got together in November to continue their work on a musical production about death and reconciliation called “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County.” A member of The Dark Tower dot Net forum helped crew the latest reading. A self-admitted skeptic when he first heard about this project, he reported that the music is fantastic, the cast was great and, though there is still work to be done, he says it will be a worthwhile endeavor.

Mellencamp reports that the guys who did “Spamalot” are now involved, which may make the final stages of development “less hectic.” King’s story involves two brothers who dislike each other immensely. Their father takes them to their family vacation cabin, where, a generation before them, the father’s two older brothers killed each other in a similar sibling rivalry.

“There’s a confederacy of ghosts who also live in this house,” Mellencamp told Billboard. “The older (dead) brothers are there, and they speak to the audience, and they sing to the audience. That’s all I want to say, except through this family vacation, many things are learned about the family, and many interesting songs are sung.”

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Quick Notes:

  • CD’s very own Rich Chizmar co-scripted an adaptation of From a Buick 8 that is currently attached to George Romero as director, who also has the film rights to The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. However, recent reports hint that Romero may tackle another zombie feature before working on either of these King adaptations.
  • Galleys of Stephen King: Uncollected and Unpublished by Rocky Wood (The Complete Guide to the Works of Stephen King) are in distribution, so the book can’t be far behind. I’ve started perusing my copy and am impressed by the amount of information and detail contained in this volume. In addition to containing the first appearances of some very rare King works (a poem, and a chapter from the early novel Sword in the Darkness), the book highlights the various appearances of rare King stories and indicates the ones that were substantially revised for later publication. Makes me want to go back to some of the earlier appearances to refresh my memory of what the stories were like in their original incarnations.
  • A new King project called The Secretary of Dreams was announced recently. Stay tuned to the CD web page for more details very shortly. This one is very cool!

Have news, information, corrections? E-mail me!