There’s been so much news lately, I hardly know where to begin. What merits top billing? Let’s start with that trailer for It. First we had a teaser for the trailer, that stirred up interest. And then we got the 2-½ minute trailer itself, and boy what a beauty that was. In its first 24 hours, it racked up an astonishing 197 million views around the world, smashing all previous records. That speaks a lot to anticipation for this movie.
Constant Readers the world over are rejoicing over the news that Stephen King is returning to Castle Rock, the small town he created, nurtured and nearly destroyed in works such as The Dead Zone, The Dark Half and Needful Things. Joining him as co-writer of the new novella “Gwendy’s Button Box” is Cemetery Dance founder and publisher Richard Chizmar, fresh off his successful short story collection A Long December. Recently, the two authors answered a few questions from our Bev Vincent about their highly anticipated collaboration.
A little town in the lakes region of Maine, just south and west of Lewiston-Auburn, population somewhat less than two thousand. Not much to make it stand out from all of the other little places in the state. The founders made full use of the Castle name. Castle View is right next door. Nearby bodies of water are the Castle Stream, Castle River and Castle Lake, and the town is the county seat of Castle County. The more affluent people live on Castle Hill.
In his new introduction to “Hearts in Atlantis,” included in Hearts in Suspension from the University of Maine Press, Stephen King says that the sixties were probably the most crucial and formative period of his life. This collection of essays (and the one piece of fiction) focuses primarily on a four-year period starting in the fall of 1966 and ending in 1970, shortly after the shootings at Kent State. These were turbulent times in America, and influential years for the students attending the University of Maine in Orono (UMO).
Hearts in Suspension-—the new Stephen King book that contains his long essay “Five to One, One in Five,” the novella “Hearts in Atlantis,” four of his “King’s Garbage Truck” essays from the University of Maine newspaper, and essays by a dozen fellow students—will be out from the University of Maine Press in a few weeks. The book also contains a photograph and document gallery that chronicles his university years. UMaine will host the book launch on November 7 at the Collins Center for the Arts in Orono.
We’ve been spoiled in recent years by getting two novels from Stephen King. 2016 will see the end of that streak. The recently published End of Watch is the only book from King we’ll see this year. Later this fall, though, we’ll get Hearts in Suspension, edited by Jim Bishop, a collection of essays by King and others about his time as a student at the University of Maine. The publisher says that King’s essay is quite long (the longest of the set of about ten essays by various authors), and that the essay is “funny, truthful, and an involved work about Steve’s experiences during the 60’s, 70’s and the anti-war work of the Vietnam era, and so much more.”
A Night at The Ryman with Stephen King
Stephen King’s End of Watch Book Tour
The Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, Tennessee
June 11, 2016
by Blu Gilliand
As a born-and-bred Southerner, I knew that Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium was one of those places I was supposed to visit at least once in my life. Built in 1892 by a steamboat captain for the evangelist that led him to salvation, the Ryman Auditorium (originally known as the Union Gospel Tabernacle) soon became more than a church—it became a gathering place/entertainment hall, hosting everything from political rallies to opera to ballet to, beginning in 1943, the Grand Ole Opry. These days, the Ryman plays host to comedians, rock bands, country singers, and, yes, bestselling authors.
When I read that Stephen King would be stopping at The Ryman, a mere four hours from my front door, as part of his End of Watch book tour—and on a Saturday, no less—I knew it was a chance I couldn’t pass up.
Shortly after the publication of Mr. Mercedes, Stephen King announced that the book was the first in a trilogy that would be connected by the City Center Massacre (in which a psycho named Brady Hartsfield stole a Mercedes and plowed into a crowd of people who were waiting in line at a job fair in a struggling Mid-western city).
Hartsfield got away with that crime but was—during the commission of an even more audacious and nefarious scheme—eventually brought to justice by a rag-tag group led by retired police detective Bill Hodges. Hartsfield was effectively taken off the playing board at the conclusion of Mr. Mercedes but, at the end of the second book, Finders Keepers, King hinted strongly that this villain would be back, front and center, for the finale. He also suggested that the third book would be closer to a traditional King novel, by which I mean it might have supernatural elements.
The phrase “End of Watch” will be familiar to anyone with more than a passing knowledge of police dramas. In one context, it refers to the day when a cop retires. On another, more ominous level, it refers to a cop killed in the line of duty. Bill Hodges has already experienced the first usage—the question the title of the third book poses is whether he will experience the other.
Not long now until End of Watch comes out, the final installment in the Mr. Mercedes trilogy. King is doing a major tour for this book, with twelve stops between June 7 and June 18. The June 16 event in Albuquerque is of particular interest because George R.R. Martin will be interviewing King. Most of the events have already sold out (some in almost record time), but you can find the list of venues here.
After years of saying “no news yet” with reference to the Dark Tower movie, things are finally moving forward. The current release date is set at February 17, 2017, and the following people have been cast: Idris Elba (Roland), Matthew McConaughey (Man in Black), Jackie Earle Haley (Richard Sayre), Fran Kranz (Pimli Prentiss), Tom Taylor (Jake), Abby Lee (Tirana) and Katheryn Winnick (unknown). Some early photos from the set appeared a few days ago, and some of them disappeared soon after!
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.
Misery on Broadway – What Every Other Review Won’t Tell You
by Jason Sechrest
In the Fall of 2015, Misery came to Broadway – but that’s not necessarily as bad as it sounds.
The stage adaptation of the novel by Stephen King made its run at the Broadhurst Theater from November 15th, 2015 to February 14th, 2016, starring Bruce Willis as romance novelist Paul Sheldon (who has suffered a near fatal car accident in a snow storm), and Laurie Metcalf as Annie Wilkes, his “#1 fan” who has rescued him from said crash only to hold him captive in her home.
Now, we could have reviewed Misery on Broadway during its run, but where is the fun in all that?
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.
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.
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.
Some 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.
What We Can Learn from Ur 2.0
In On Writing, Stephen King presents his theories and philosophies about the art and craft of writing. The book is especially popular among writers, including those who don’t, in general, read his novels.
In one section, he demonstrates his revision process. As a case study, he chose the opening pages of “The Hotel Story,” later retitled “1408.” The book reproduces manuscript pages, complete with editorial marks and his annotations, explaining why he chose to make certain changes to the original text.
We don’t often get the chance to see inside the creative mind at that level. I was pleased to be able to include some first draft manuscript pages of King’s work in the Stephen King Illustrated Companion because they demonstrate more of this phenomenon: pages from The Shining, for example, that show how King originally conceived the scene in which Danny has a strange encounter with a fire hose.