Featured review: 'The Fireman' by Joe Hill

the-firemanThe Fireman by Joe Hill
William Morrow (May 17, 2016)
768 pages; $18.82 hardcover; $14.99 e-book
Reviewed by Bev Vincent

The Fireman, Joe Hill’s fourth novel, is an apocalyptic tale in which a deadly disease destroys the world. If this conjures thoughts of The Stand, it’s not a coincidence. Hill is on record as saying that the book is his version of The Stand “soaked in gasoline and set on fire.” In his dedication he says he stole “everything else” about the book from his father other than the title.

The illness that spreads like wildfire is Draco incendia trychophyton, a spore rather than a virus. People exposed to it do not burn with a fever—they simply burn. First, lesions develop. Some are almost decorative, resembling scales, hence the illness’s nickname: Dragonscale. Victims are mostly asymptomatic until they suddenly catch fire, usually when under stress. It’s a devastating and terrifying disease, because the conflagration takes out others in the vicinity. Buildings burn, then city blocks, and cities, and more.Continue Reading

Stephen King: News from the Dead Zone #189 – '11.22.63'

The Obdurate Past: 11.22.63

The day has come for those of you who have been holding back: All episodes of 11.22.63 are now available on Hulu and ready for you to binge. You can even see it all for free if you sign up for the month-long trial the service offers. There are two options: one with commercials and one without. The latter is more expensive on a monthly basis if you stay on after the trial ends, but it’s worth the few extra dollars in my opinion to eliminate the ad breaks.

I know I promised you a mid-series update, but I didn’t get around to that. Sorry!

My feelings about the series as a whole haven’t changed since I first wrote about it a couple of months ago. I think it is one of the best miniseries adaptations of Stephen King’s work. There have been a lot of complaints about the changes to the story, but on the whole I think they worked without doing the novel a disservice.Continue Reading

Stephen King News from the Dead Zone: A preview of Hulu's miniseries '11.22.63'

You Shouldn’t Be Here: 11.22.63

The past is resistant to change, and so, too, are many fans when it comes to adaptations of Stephen King’s novels. How many liberties should a screenwriter take with a literary work? (“The book’s always better, everybody knows that,” Sadie says the first time she meets Jake in the 11.22.63 miniseries.)

11/22/63 might have an advantage in that it’s a relatively new novel, one that hasn’t been firmly entrenched in readers’ minds as other works. Also, some adaptations remain essentially true to the source material despite making significant changes. Dolores Claiborne comes to mind, an underappreciated adaptation that deletes characters, brings others to the forefront, invents scenes, but captures the book perfectly.

This is the case, too, with 11.22.63. Continue Reading

Stephen King: News from the Dead Zone #187

Happy New Year — and welcome to the first News from the Dead Zone of 2016. A leap year. A year in which we will see at least one new novel from Stephen King (End of Watch, June) and one major miniseries adaptation (11.22.63). Probably more good stuff, but that’s all we’re sure of at the moment.Continue Reading

Stephen King: News from the Dead Zone #185: 'The Bazaar of Bad Dreams' review

Featured Review: The Bazaar of Bad Dreams

There’s something for everyone in Stephen King’s latest collection. Even the most avid fans who try to track down each short story as it is released will find several new tales in The Bazaar of Bad Dreams.

bobd-cover-reveal-5Some of the stories were published in the customary places: magazines like The New Yorker, Playboy, Esquire, Tin House, The Atlantic, and Cemetery Dance or in anthologies like Turn Down the Lights and A Book of Horrors, but others were released in less usual places. “Ur” and “Mile 81,” for example, were only released as eBooks. “Blockade Billy” was originally a limited edition novella. “Drunken Fireworks” was previously available only in audio. You’ve only read “Under the Weather” if you bought the paperback version of Full Dark, No Stars. And “Bad Little Kid” is the strangest case of all, previously available only as an eBook in French or German. Two of the stories, “Mister Yummy” and “Obits,” have never been published anywhere before, in any language or using any technology.Continue Reading

Stephen King: News from the Dead Zone #184 (Haven 5B)

The old ways are gone. This is the new Haven.

Preview: Haven Season 5B, episodes 1 & 2

All good things must come to an end, and tonight marks the beginning of the end for the Syfy series Haven. For the past 65 episodes, since the series premiered in 2010, the residents of Haven have been dealing with the most recent outbreak of the Troubles, which are far worse this time around than they’ve ever been before, in part because people have been meddling with the works. If Nathan and Duke and Dwight and the rest of the merry band had simply let matters run their natural course, Audrey Parker would have gone into the barn and everything would have been fine for another generation. But, no! They had to try to fix things and, by doing so, everything has gotten exponentially worse.Continue Reading

Stephen King: News from the Dead Zone #183 (Haven part 5a)

Haven is set to return on October 8th for its final season. You may not have time to catch up on the 13 episodes that make up Season 5A, so this is a synopsis of events that I hope you’ll find helpful. If you want to read my posts about the characters and previous seasons, you can start here and work your way back. I’ll be updating the Who’s Who with info from Season 5A in due course, and I’ll have a sneak peak of Season 5B for you soon: I’ve already seen the first two episodes. Stay tuned. The game is changing in many different ways.Continue Reading

Stephen King: News from the Dead Zone #182

Next week will be busy for Stephen King. On September 9, he will be appearing in Cambridge, MA in conversation with Lee Child to promote the new Jack Reacher novel, Make Me. The next day, he will be among the eleven individuals receiving the National Medal of Arts from President Obama in the East Wing of the White House. The citation says, “One of the most popular and prolific writers of our time, Mr. King combines his remarkable storytelling with his sharp analysis of human nature. ” Then, on the following day, September 11, he will be a guest on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show during its inaugural week.Continue Reading

News from the Dead Zone review: 'The Shining: Studies in the Horror Film'

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Featured review: The Shining: Studies in the Horror Film

The Shining: Studies in the Horror Film
The Shining: Studies in the Horror Film

I don’t make a habit of reviewing books that I’m involved with. However, I’ll make an exception in the case of The Shining: Studies in the Horror Film. My essay takes up only about 2% of the book’s 750 pages. Full disclosure, though: I know the book’s editor, Danel Olson, personally. He lives a couple of miles from me, we’ve gone to see movies together and I’ve spoken to his college classes on a couple of occasions.

Having gotten all of that out of the way, this is the sort of book I wish I’d had access to when I was writing my essay, which is called “The Genius Fallacy: The Shining’s ‘Hidden’ Meanings.” Continue Reading

News from the Dead Zone #180: DRUNKEN FIREWORKS Review

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Featured review: Drunken Fireworks

drunken-fireworksThose of us who’ve read our work in public understand how difficult it is to keep an audience engaged for longer than about 15 or 20 minutes. Unless you’re a skilled performer (Tom Monteleone comes to mind among that group), the audience will get restless if you go on much longer than that.

Which is why the producers of audiobooks so often turn to actors as narrators. Or, as in the case of “Drunken Fireworks,” the new audiobook-only story from Stephen King, to someone like Tim Sample, who has produced the “Postcards from Maine” segment for CBS Sunday Morning. Other people in his category who come to mind are Garrison Keillor of The Prairie Home Companion or, a personal favorite, Stuart McLean from The Vinyl Cafe. These are raconteurs, people you don’t mind listening to for extended periods of time as they spin out their stories.Continue Reading

Stephen King: News from the Dead Zone #179

Featured review: Finders Keepers

Lisey Landon had a word for the people who clamored for the fragments, snippets and memorabilia of her dead husband’s literary estate: Incunks. Is there is a similar word for those who seek the remnants of a living (though perhaps inactive) author?

Finders_Keepers_2015Morris Bellamy is obsessed with John Rothstein, a writer cut from the same cloth as J.D. Salinger. Rothstein withdrew from the world in 1960, living in New Hampshire a mile from his nearest neighbor. Now almost eighty, he is most famous for a trilogy featuring protagonist Jimmy Gold.

Bellamy has read the first two books, The Runner and The Runner Sees Action, countless times, but the final book only once, so much does he loathe the fate that befell a character who is more alive to him than most real people. He thinks Rothstein sold out, made Gold go establishment in The Runner Slows Down (the series titles are reminiscent of John Updike), where Gold winds up married with kids and working in advertising.

In 1978, convinced that Rothstein must have continued writing in the two decades since his last story appeared in The New Yorker, Bellamy enlists the help of two clueless accomplices and invades Rothstein’s farmhouse. They uncover wads of cash and, more importantly to Bellamy, scores and scores of ledgers containing Rothstein’s handwriting.

By all rights, Bellamy should have been caught soon after the robbery, but, like Brady Hartsfield in Mr. Mercedes, luck is on Bellamy’s side. Sort of. He isn’t arrested because of this incident but rather because of something that happens subsequently. His Achilles’ heel is that he can’t handle being made to feel stupid. He’d already spent nine months in juvenile detention after a drunken rampage sparked by an argument with his mother over the Rothstein novels. He blames her for his incarceration—he’s never takes responsibility for his own actions. This time, his drunken misadventures end in a far worse outcome and he is sentenced to life in prison—before he has the chance to savor the spoils of his robbery.

Though nominally a sequel, Finders Keepers works perfectly well as a standalone novel. It intersects with Mr. Mercedes via the City Center Massacre, where Hartsfield killed several people and maimed others with a stolen Mercedes. In the second book of a proposed trilogy, that incident is represented by the Saubers, a family who fell on hard times during the economic downturn. Tom Saubers was waiting in line at the job fair that fateful day. He survived, but was seriously injured and ends up hooked on painkillers during his rehabilitation. There are frequent loud arguments with his wife, mostly over money.

Then thirteen year old Pete Saubers stumbles upon a buried treasure. Not only does the trunk he discovers in a vacant lot near his house (the same one Morris Bellamy grew up in) contain stacks of cash, it also holds intriguing, handwritten ledgers. At the time, Pete has no idea who John Rothstein is, but over the following years he becomes familiar with the man’s work.

In Pete’s mind, this is a case of “finders keepers,” but if he gives the money to his parents, they’ll want to report it to the cops. So, he mails them $500 each month anonymously. The Saubers convince themselves it’s further compensation for Tom’s injuries. It won’t make them wealthy, but it’s enough to silence the worst of the arguments. Pete’s discovery represents the turning point for his family.

But the money runs out four years later.

By then, Pete understands the true value of the ledgers, which contain poems, short stories and two unpublished Jimmy Gold novels that complete the cycle. Liquidating them is a problem, especially for a high school sophomore. If he turns them in, he won’t get anything more than a pat on the back, and he wants to raise enough money so his younger sister, Tina, can go to private school. She’s smart, but falling through the cracks at public school. He’s forced to seek the help of a shady individual, which sets into motion a catastrophic sequence of events that jeopardizes his entire family.

For the first 150 pages, the story bounces around between 1978 and 2009-2013, relating incidents in Bellamy’s and the Saubers’ lives. Then Det/Ret Bill Hodges gets involved and the pace of the novel accelerates to breakneck speed, with the second half covering only a few days.

The novel is dedicated to John D. MacDonald, who wrote the introduction to Night Shift and penned a series featuring Travis McGee[1]. McGee helped people who had things stolen from them in a way that precluded legal recourse. For his services, he kept fifty percent of whatever he recovered. Half of something was better than nothing, he reasoned.

Crossovers

As with Mr. Mercedes, Finders Keepers is set in the “real world,” where Stephen King is a person who writes books, movies are adapted from them and popular tropes have entered the cultural awareness. And yet, it can’t be a coincidence that Brady Hartsfield resides in Room 217 of the Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic. Can it?

Can it?

Hodges, slimmer and healthier than when he first retired, is in a similar business, a company called Finders Keepers he formed after he wriggled out of the trouble he found himself in because of his rogue investigation into the Mercedes Killer case four years earlier. When first seen in 2014, he’s repossessing a stolen Lear Jet from a con man. His fee isn’t half of the jet’s value, but it’s a tidy sum nonetheless. Plus, he brings the culprit to justice and puts a feather in his former partner’s hat, another move toward reconciling their rocky relationship.

Holly Gibney, the awkward and damaged woman who emerged to the forefront in Mr. Mercedes, is now Hodges’ assistant. She runs the office, keeps the files and performs computer research to help Hodges track his targets. She’s not completely healed—she still has numerous quirks—but her self-confidence has been boosted by recent experiences.

Hodges’ other “irregular,” Jerome Robinson, is at Harvard. His younger sister Barbara happens to be good friends with Pete Saubers’ sister, which is how Hodges gets involved. The disreputable bookstore owner Pete consults about the manuscripts puts the teenager in a difficult spot. The stress takes a toll on him and Tina notices the change in her brother’s behavior. However, Pete rebuff’s Hodges’ offer of assistance.

Morris Bellamy is paroled from prison after nearly four decades. Finally given a chance to recover the ledgers, he is incensed to discover that someone has beaten him to the punch. He has a suspect, though: the one person who knew about them when he was arrested. This puts him on a collision course with Pete Saubers and, ultimately, with Bill Hodges. Hodges’ investigation isn’t really the typical stuff of a detective novel—with the assistance of Jerome and Holly, they try to help Pete out of his predicament without understanding until late in the game exactly who is after him or why.

In the novel, King discusses the world of rare books and literature. He talks about natural selection in terms of which authors’ works survive over the decades and which don’t. The power of a story to captivate plays an important part in the novel’s resolution, as does the question of which is more important: the writing or the writer. Bellamy and Annie Wilkes share a common belief that their favorite authors owe them something when a series of books takes a direction they don’t like.

At times, Finders Keepers enters Kate Atkinson territory. Coincidence (or co-inky-dink, as one character puts it) plays a part in the proceedings. Pete finds Bellamy’s stash shortly after the Emergency Fund for victims of the City Center Massacre runs out. He approaches the bookseller with the ledgers barely a week before Bellamy goes looking for them. And Bellamy gets closer to the ledgers than he could possibly imagine due to a coincidence of geography.

And what of Brady Hartsfield? At the conclusion of Mr. Mercedes, King hinted that we hadn’t seen the last of him. That despite the grievous injury he received at the hands of Holly and Hodges’ happy slapper, there was still some life left in the young psychopath. Hartsfield is Hodges’ obsession. The retired detective wonders if he’s faking his condition, so he visits him frequently to try to catch him out. In the final pages of Finders Keepers, King lays the groundwork for the third book in the series, tentatively titled The Suicide Prince. It seems that Hodges is in for a rematch with his old nemesis.


[1] Another MacDonald novel, The Executioners, the inspiration for the movies Cape Fear, makes a cameo appearance in Finders Keepers in much the same way that a couple of King novels cameoed in Travis McGee novels

Stephen King: News from the Dead Zone #178

Next up from Stephen King is Finders Keepers, which will be out on June 2. There’s an excerpt in the May 15 issue of Entertainment Weekly (also online). Scribner and King’s office are running a contest for a signed copy of the book, as well as audio and hardcover editions. The early reviews (you can read Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Library Journal and Booklist reviews here) have been very good. Stay tuned for my review very soon.

At a recent event, King said he was hard at work on the third volume in the series, which has the working title The Suicide Prince. The previous book, Mr. Mercedes, won the Edgar Award for best novel. King was present to accept it, as he was also at the banquet to present the Ellery Queen Award to Charles Ardai, editor and founder, Hard Case Crime.

On November 3, we’ll get King’s next collection, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams. King will introduce each of the eighteen stories and two poems, providing “autobiographical comments on when, why and how he came to write it”, as well as “the origins and motivation of each story.” The contents are: “Mile 81,” “Premium Harmony ,” “Batman and Robin Have an Altercation,” “The Dune,” “Bad Little Kid,” “A Death,” “The Bone Church,” “Morality,” “Afterlife,” “Ur,” “Herman Wouk is Still Alive,” “Under the Weather,” “Blockade Billy,” “Mister Yummy,” “Tommy,” “The Little Green God of Agony,” “That Bus is Another World,” “Obits,” “Drunken Fireworks,” and “Summer Thunder.” The cover is being gradually revealed at King’s official website.

Several of these stories are quite rare or haven’t been generally available. “Bad Little Kid,” for example, was only released in French and German previously. A few were only available electronically, and “Under the Weather” only appeared in the paperback edition of Full Dark, No Stars. A few of the stories are brand new. Among this number is “Drunken Fireworks,” which will be published as an audiobook read by Maine humorist Tim Sample on June 30. The story will also stream in its entirety on select CBS radio stations nationwide on July 2nd, in keeping with its Fourth of July theme.

Other publication news

Hard Case Crime has announced they will publish an illustrated edition of Joyland this September, featuring cover artwork by Glen Orbik, a map of Joyland illustrated by Susan Hunt Yule and more than twenty interior illustrations by Robert McGinnis, Mark Summers and Pat Kinsella. Note that this is not a limited edition. Hard Case Crime will publish as many copies as are needed to satisfy demand for the book. In related, sadder news, Orbik died recently at the age of 52 from cancer.

The Shining: Studies in the Horror Film is now available for pre-order from Centipede Press. This 752-page book, edited by Danel Olson, features a new introduction by Academy-Award winning director Lee Unkrich, and nearly two dozen new interviews with cast and crew members, reprint interviews, and a handful of excellent essays (plus one from yours truly). The book also features an amazing assortment of behind the scenes photographs, most never before published, crisp frame enlargements from the film, and a special gallery of poster artwork inspired by the movie. The book will be shipping later this month.

Movie news:

  • This is unexpected and welcome news: Sony Pictures has teamed with MRC to co-finance the Dark Tower adaptation. Sony will distribute what is planned to be the first in a series of movies. A complementary TV series is also being developed by MRC. The new script is primarily drawn from The Gunslinger and the relationship between Roland and Jake, using a brand new script co-written by Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Pinkner. No director has been attached yet, but it’s the most promising news in forever.
  • Will Poulter (We’re the Millers) is in negotiations to play Pennywise in the upcoming two-part movie adaptation of It directed by Cary Fukunaga.
  • The principle cast for 11/22/63 (Hulu, early 2016) has been announced: James Franco (Jake Epping), Chris Cooper (Al Templeton), Sarah Gadon (Sadie Dunhill), Cherry Jones (Marguerite Oswald), Daniel Webber (Lee Harvey Oswald),  George MacKay (Bill Turcotte), Lucy Fry (Marina Oswald), and Leon Rippy (Harry Dunning). Academy Award winner Kevin Macdonald will direct and executive produce the first two hours of the nine-hour event series.
  • Brad Pitt’s  Plan B has optioned feature rights to The Jaunt. The company has attached Andy Muschietti and Barbara Muschietti, the duo behind the 2013 horror film Mama.
  • Vincenzo Natali (Cube) is adapting “In the Tall Grass,” the novella cowritten by King and Joe Hill. Principal photography is scheduled for September in the Toronto area.

Stephen King: News from the Dead Zone #177

The Kings and the Straubs: All in the Family

A report from the event at St. Francis College, Brooklyn Heights, April 21, 2015

Last Tuesday, I attended an event held in Founders Hall at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights that featured Stephen & Owen King and Peter & Emma Straub. The event was co-sponsored by BookCourt, a bookstore where Peter Straub’s daughter Emma worked for several years.

It was billed as a “round table,” despite the absence of any table, round or otherwise. The four authors faced the audience of approximately 300 on tall, low-backed bar chairs that didn’t look terribly comfortable. King joked that the setup was a little like a Jerry Springer episode: Writers whose children grow up to be writers.

The first two rows were reserved for SFC students. Two additional rows were occupied by people in publishing and the media. Admission was free, so the event “sold out” quickly. An overflow room was set up nearby where other attendees could watch the discussion on a simulcast. A hodge-podge of signed novels was on sale in a nearby room—it was a terrific opportunity for fans to get inexpensive signed King books. They were generally later printing paperbacks, but even so.

 

Isaac Fitzgerald of BuzzFeed Books moderated the evening. He started off by asking how the authors were influenced by the other members of their family. King talked about how all of the writers in his family shared their material back and forth, and that Owen provided valuable feedback on Mr. Mercedes and the forthcoming Finders Keepers. He said that his other son, Joe Hill, had emailed him the previous day saying that his editor decided that instead of starting his next book, The Fireman, in media res he might consider telling the story linearly. Hill asked his father if he could send him the first 150 pages for his input.

Peter Straub talked about collaborating with his daughter on a short story that grew into a novella, an experience that taught him that brevity works. You don’t have to fill in the back story of every character and their grandparents, he said. He appreciates the fact that Emma knows that writing is work, that you have to put in the time. He recalled an incident when she was visiting them and they were just about to sit down to dinner but she said she had to leave. She still had to write two pages that day. “My daughter,” he said with obvious pride.

Owen Kikng and Emma Straub agreed that at an early age they were disabused of some of the more romantic notions about what writing entails. Owen remembered as a child thinking that his father’s job was to go up to his office, close the door and listen to the Ramones. It seemed like a good gig. Then he realized he did it seven days a week and it was actually a very hard job to write a novel, day after day. This knowledge made them put off wanting to become writers for a number of years. Straub said she wanted to be a poet at first, and her father chimed in that he started out as a poet, too. His motivation was that it required much less typing than writing books!

Peter Straub recounted the story of how he and King decided to collaborate, which happened late one evening (after many cigarettes and much beer) the first time King visited Straub in England. After King suggested they write a book together, the first thing they did was figure out when they could do it, taking into account their respective contracts and the relative speeds at which they wrote. They decided they could begin in two years. When they got down to it, they worked on the story’s “Bible.” Instead of a quest to get rid of something, as in The Lord of the Rings, they decided on a quest to bring something back. They started stringing out the story from there and hit it back and forth like a tennis ball. “Never in the middle of a sentence,” Straub said, “but sometimes in the middle of a paragraph!” The second time they collaborated, Straub said they were more relaxed. There was no spirit of competition. King talked about how they made an effort to copy each other’s styles so no one would be sure who wrote what.

Emma Straub explained why she decided to set her first novel in the world of Hollywood. She’d already published a collection of stories that were about things that were similar to her life: young women in New York encountering problems. She grew bored of anything that had to do with New York City. She wanted to go as far away from herself as she could. She had never done research for her writing before and discovered that she loved it. You can actually write about things that you think are cool and want to know more about, she said.

The Kings shared a humorous story about how Owen (and his other children) used to make money by reading books onto tape for his father to listen to while he traveled, and how he used to do funny voices when reading works like Dune. Owen said he has recovered all of those tapes so no one else will ever hear them.

The moderator took questions from the audience and, given that Straub and King were together, one of the first concerned the status of the follow up to The Talisman and Black House. King said that they always knew that the story wasn’t done with the second novel, that there were things that needed to be finished. Peter sent him a book called Redheaded Peckerwood that set his imagination on fire. He described the book as a photographic-impressionistic thing about Charles Starkweather. “We can use this,” Straub said. “It can be a motor.” Straub jokingly suggested calling the next book A Girl, A Car and a Gun.

When the subject of music came up, King talked about buying “Funky Town” by LIPPS INC. He said that he got into a fight in college because he wrote disparaging things about Blood, Sweat and Tears. Straub recalled that they each had their own record they would put on when it was their turn to work on the ending of Black House. King’s choice was “Electric Avenue” by Eddie Grant. King laughed, saying that Peter couldn’t believe that one of the lyrics was “Deep in my heart I abhor you.” Owen said that he listened to Wings Greatest Hits when he was writing his first book. “I don’t even like them that much.” His wife was ready to kill him by the time he was finished. His father said he had the same experience with Mambo No. 5. He added that everything he said about playing music in Revival also applied to writing. Only Emma Straub said that she couldn’t listen to music while writing, especially not anything that has lyrics.

One question concerned what everyone was writing at present. Peter Straub said that he has been working on a novel called The Way It Went Down for three or four years. He also has a big collection, Selected Stories, due out in April 2016. King said that he is trying to finish up the third book in the Detective Hodges trilogy, the title of which will be The Suicide Prince. Emma Straub said that she is on page 247 of a novel that takes place in Brooklyn, but she doesn’t have a title for it yet. “A lot of people are having sex,” she said, which the moderator suggested might make a good title. Owen King said that he has a graphic novel coming out in September that he co-wrote with Mark Poirier, called Intro to Alien Invasion. He’s also working on a TV project that he’s contractually forbidden to talk about.

Here are two other reports about the event:

And here are the event photographer’s pictures. The event video should be available soon.

Stephen King: News from the Dead Zone #176

It’s not every day that you get a brand new short story from Stephen King for free, right? Well, today is just one of those days. “A Death” will appear in print in the March 9 issue of The New Yorker, but the story is online right now. There’s also a brief Q&A with King on the New Yorker website.

“A Death” will be included in The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, King’s next collection, due out in November. Among the stories we expect to see in that collection are “Ur” and “Bad Little Kid,” which will be appearing in English for the first time anywhere. (I reviewed it for Fearnet last year.)

The forthcoming story “Drunken Fireworks,” which will be released in audio on June 30th, will also be in Bazaar.  Here’s the publisher’s description: “In this new tour-de-force from Stephen King—unavailable in print or any other format—a salt-of-the-earth Maine native recounts how a friendly annual summer fireworks show rivalry with his neighbor across the lake gradually spirals out of control…with explosive results!”

Before that collection, though, we’ll get Finders Keepers on June 2, the follow-up to Mr. Mercedes. The audio version will once again be read by Will Patton. Here is the publisher’s copy for the novel:

“Wake up, genius.” So begins King’s instantly riveting story about a vengeful reader. The genius is John Rothstein, a Salinger-like icon who created a famous character, Jimmy Gold, but who hasn’t published a book for decades. Morris Bellamy is livid, not just because Rothstein has stopped providing books, but because the nonconformist Jimmy Gold has sold out for a career in advertising. Morris kills Rothstein and empties his safe of cash, yes, but the real treasure is a trove of notebooks containing at least one more Gold novel.

Morris hides the money and the notebooks, and then he is locked away for another crime. Decades later, a boy named Pete Sauberg finds the treasure, and now it is Pete and his family that Bill Hodges, Holly Gibney, and Jerome Robinson must rescue from the ever-more deranged and vengeful Morris when he’s released from prison after thirty-five years.

Not since Misery has King played with the notion of a reader whose obsession with a writer gets dangerous. Finders Keepers is spectacular, heart-pounding suspense, but it is also King writing about how literature shapes a life—for good, for bad, forever.finders_keepers_us_hardcover_full_small

The Marvel graphic novel adaptation of The Drawing of the Three continues with the release of House of Cards #1 on March 24.

Adaptation news:

  • Under the Dome kicks off its third season with a two-hour premiere June 25. Marg Helgenberger has joined the cast for an extended story arc.
  • Sonar Entertainment will develop Mr. Mercedes as a limited series for television. David E. Kelley (Boston Legal, Ally McBeal, The Practice) is attached to write the script and Jack Bender (Lost) will direct.
  • James Franco has been cast as Jake Epping for 11/22/63, which will be a 9-hour series on Hulu.
  • Clarius Entertainment has acquired US rights to Cell, which was produced by Benaroya Pictures and The Genre Company. The plan is to release it theatrically later this year.
  • True Detective director Cary Fukunaga is on board for a new adaptation of It. At Sundance in February, he was a little vague, saying, “If that movie happens, it will be my first movie made in America.” He says he’s only thought about casting for Pennywise (without revealing who). The kids will mostly be unknowns, he says. He confirmed that the first movie will focus on the kids and a later film will do the adult story. He does not yet have a script for the second film.

Here is  King’s review of Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story, by Rick Bragg from the NY Times.

Recent interviews and public appearances:

Stephen King: News from the Dead Zone #175

I suppose everyone’s busy reading or listening to Revival, right? The book has been out for a week now, and King has wrapped up his six-city tour in support of the novel. He also made a couple of media appearances:

Excerpts from the audio version, read by David Morse, are being released over the next seven weeks at Experience Revival.

King talked about a few projects he might like to work on in the future. He’s interested in returning to the Dark Tower someday, probably to tackle The Battle of Jericho Hill. He wants to write a story about Franny falling down a well after she and Stu head for Maine. And he hopes to work with Peter Straub on a third book about Jack Sawyer. This one garnered the most interest, especially after a photo emerged of the two of them together following King’s signing in New York. However, his administrative assistant indicated that this won’t necessarily happen soon, despite intentions. Read her statement here.

I hope you’re checking out the journey Rich Chizmar is taking at Stephen King Revisited. Starting a couple of weeks ago, he is reading all of King’s books in publication order, including collections, Bachman books and non-fiction. At a pace of 2-3 books per month, we estimate this endeavor will take around two years. I’m along for the ride, writing historical background essays for each book. There are also guest essayists who’ll be appearing from time to time. For example, Ray Garton wrote about Carrie. This week we took on book #2: ‘Salem’s Lot. My essay went up yesterday and Rich’s today. Check ’em out and come on this incredible journey with us.

We now have the title for King’s next story collection: The Bazaar of Bad Dreams will contain twenty stories (not yet identified), and will be published by Scribner in November 2015.

Before that, though, on June 2, 2015, we’ll have Finders Keepers, the follow-up to Mr. Mercedes. Today, Scribner released the book’s description. It’s fairly detailed, so if you want to read the book unspoiled, you might want to skip it!

“Wake up, genius.” So begins King’s instantly riveting story about a vengeful reader. The genius is John Rothstein, a Salinger-like icon who created a famous character, Jimmy Gold, but who hasn’t published a book for decades. Morris Bellamy is livid, not just because Rothstein has stopped providing books, but because the nonconformist Jimmy Gold has sold out for a career in advertising. Morris kills Rothstein and empties his safe of cash, yes, but the real treasure is a trove of notebooks containing at least one more Gold novel.

Morris hides the money and the notebooks, and then he is locked away for another crime. Decades later, a boy named Pete Sauberg finds the treasure, and now it is Pete and his family that Bill Hodges, Holly Gibney, and Jerome Robinson must rescue from the ever-more deranged and vengeful Morris when he’s released from prison after thirty-five years.

Not since Misery has King played with the notion of a reader whose obsession with a writer gets dangerous. Finders Keepers is spectacular, heart-pounding suspense, but it is also King writing about how literature shapes a life—for good, for bad, forever.

ICYMI, here’s King’s interview from Rolling Stone. There’s also a companion article: The World of Stephen King, A to Z.

Did you know that the revised and updated edition of The Illustrated  Stephen King Trivia Book is now available as an eBook?