An Interview with ‘The Dark Tower’ Screenwriter Akiva Goldsman

In March, 2012, while I was writing The Dark Tower Companion, I spoke with Akiva Goldsman about his plans to adapt the Dark Tower series with Ron Howard. Clearly things have changed significantly in the past five years, but his thoughts at the time show where he was coming from and might indicate where the adaptations could be headed. As we anticipate this week’s release of The Dark Tower, enjoy this excerpt from that interview.Continue Reading

News from the Dead Zone #154

The end is drawing nigh. The end of the world? Pshaw. The end of the year, certainly. This will probably be my last update for 2012, and what better day to do it than on 12/12/12?

Last Friday, King made an appearance at the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell. During the day, he talked to a creative writing class and that evening he took part in a conversation with faculty member and writer Andre Dubus III. Dubus interviewed him for the first 30 minutes, and King took questions from the audience during the final 30 minutes. In the middle, he treated the audience to the world premiere of a new short story called “Afterlife,” which is not scheduled for publication at this time. Earlier in the day, he talked at length about the novel he is currently working on, describing the genesis and how it developed from a short story idea into a 500 page manuscript. Mr. Mercedes is more of a mystery novel and it has no supernatural elements. You can find video of the entire event at the UMass Lowell website.

Look for the rare King short story “The Glass Floor” in issue #69 of Cemetery Dance magazine. This is the Glenn Chadbourne issue, and my buddy Glenn has put together special illustrations for this creepy tale, King’s first professional sale, originally published in 1967 and only reprinted once since then.

The 24-part graphic adaptation of “Little Green God of Agony” is now finished.

The long-delayed soundtrack for Ghost Brothers of Darkland County will be released on March 19th, 2013. The (enhanced CD) Standard Edition features the complete soundtrack, dialog excerpts and digital libretto. The (2CD/1DVD) Deluxe Edition contains the complete soundtrack (with and without dialog), deluxe art work, handwritten lyrics, specially printed libretto and the “Making of Ghost Brothers” mini-documentary DVD featuring in-depth interviews with King, Mellencamp and Burnett along with other bonus material. Digital editions for tablets, smartphones and e-readers will allow users to interact with the complete soundtrack + digital libretto, as well as exclusive video and graphic materials. King and Mellencamp are still exploring the possibility of bringing the show to Broadway, and King thinks that it might make a good movie, too.

Under the Dome will be a series on CBS next summer. This isn’t going to be a literal translation, though, and neither is it going to be a miniseries. Writer Brian K. Vaughan is using the novel as a launch pad for an open-ended series that could potentially continue beyond the initial 13-week run. Perhaps it will be something like The Dead Zone series, which ran for several years, or like SyFy’s Haven, which has been renewed for a fourth season.

John Cusack will play the lead in an adaptation of Cell from Cargo Entertainment. Richard Saperstein, who produced 1408, will co-produce this feature. No word on when production might begin. And in other casting news, Chandler Riggs (The Walking Dead) and Joel Courtney (Super 8) are joining the cast of Mercy, a feature based on “Gramma.”

Ben Affleck is having a hard time wrapping his head around his proposed adaptation of The Stand. “I like the idea,” he told GQ. “It’s like The Lord of the Rings in America. And it’s about how we would reinvent ourselves as a society. If we started all over again, what would we do?” The film is still on his radar, but it won’t be the next thing he works on. “The script is not ready yet, it needs a lot more work.”

Jonathan Demme had sufficient problems with 11/22/63 that he decided to step away from the project. “This is a big book, with lots in it,” he told Indiewire. “And I loved certain parts of the book for the film more than Stephen did. We’re friends, and I had a lot of fun working on the script, but we were too apart on what we felt should be in and what should be out of the script. I had an option and I let it go. But I hope it’s moving forward, I really want to see that movie.”

The San Francisco Opera will present the world premiere of Tobias Picker’s Dolores Claiborne on Sept. 18 next year, the first of six performances running through October 4.  The libretto is by J.D. McClatchy. Mezzo-soprano Dolora Zajick will sing the title character, soprano Elizabeth Futral will perform Vera Donovan, Susannah Biller the daughter Selena St. George, Wayne Tigges the husband Joe St. George, and Greg Fedderly will be Detective Thibodeau. George Manahan conducts and James Robinson directs.

Remember that famous “Study, Dammit” cover from the Maine Campus? The one adapted at King’s website to say “Read the FAQ, Dammit”? Well, the original artwork was discovered recently and you can now purchase copies, with proceeds going to support both The Maine Campus and scholarships at the University of Maine. Visit

Cemetery Dance announced the publication of my signed, limited edition chapbook, Twenty-First Century King recently. The 50-page booklet compiles my reviews of every book King has published in the 21st century, starting with “Riding the Bullet” and ending with The Wind Through the Keyhole. That adds up to 21 reviews and 21,000 words of text. Seems like a theme—the mystical number 21. There are only 750 copies. They make great stocking stuffers for the King fan in your life.

And, last but not least, I recently announced my third book, The Dark Tower Companion, to be published by New American Library (Penguin) in April 2013. This massive companion is 50% longer than The Road to the Dark Tower. It covers not only the eight books in the series, but also the Marvel graphic novel adaptations. I interviewed King for the book, along with Robin Furth, Richard Isanove (colorist), Peter David (script), Jae Lee (artist) and most of the subsequent artists. I also, much to my great delight, got to talk with Ron Howard and Akiva Goldsman about how they plan to adapt the series. The book features a comprehensive glossary and two maps drawn by none other than…me! It will be published as a trade paperback and a Kindle eBook, both of which can be pre-ordered at Amazon.

News from the Dead Zone #127

News from the Dead Zone

Greetings and a belated Happy 2010! There hasn’t been a whole lot brewing lately, but there are some current and upcoming publications you might be interested in knowing about. There’s been no official word yet on what novels King will release in 2010, but word is that he has completed two since finishing Under the Dome so there will definitely be something this year.

The second part of King’s essay for Fangoria is in issue #290, which is reportedly on news stands now. This piece will be included in a reissue of Danse Macabre, which is also being released in audio for the first time.

The March/April issue of Playboy should be out soon. It contains the new King poem “Tommy.”

The TimesTalks event that King did in New York on November 10th is now available for viewing in the Multimedia section of King’s website.

Amazon now has a free PC version of the Kindle program so you can read Kindle-only content like “Ur” your computer. Here’s a preview of the audio version and a website dedicated to the story.

In this interview with See magazine, Elvis Costello discusses his character in Ghost Brothers of Darkland County.

Here’s an article about King’s participation in Shooter Jennings’ forthcoming album. King is the voice of Will O’ The Wisp, a radio talk-show host being phased out due to government censorship. He spends his last hour on the air delivering a diatribe about the decline of America, and playing the music of an important band — which happens to be Jennings’ new band, Hierophant. You can hear a clip from the album, including King’s narration at Jennings’ web site.

Entertainment Weekly: Best of TV 2009, Top 10 Films of 2009, Decoding Movie Blurbs

Two works about King were nominated for an Edgar award this year. Lisa Rogak’s Haunted Heart and my own The Stephen King Illustrated Companion. Here’s an interview I did recently that covers both this book and The Road to the Dark Tower.

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!