Happy New Year to all my readers. It’s been a while since my last news update, primarily because there hasn’t been a lot going on in the Stephen King Universe. However, I now have some cool things to talk about, so pull up a chair.
The next book to be published with Stephen King’s name on the cover will also feature the name of Cemetery Dance’s own Richard Chizmar. Gwendy’s Final Task comes out on February 15, capping off the trilogy that began with Gwendy’s Button Box.
The Button Box has been in and out of Gwendy’s life over the years, but now it’s up to her to do something with what is possibly the most dangerous object in existence. The novel takes readers “on a journey from Castle Rock to another famous cursed Maine city to the MF-1 space station, where Gwendy must execute a secret mission to save the world. And, maybe, all worlds.” And if you’ve spotted a certain something familiar in Ben Baldwin’s awesome cover art, you may be thinking about a field of roses and what lies at the center of it. I’ll have more to say about this novel as we get closer to publication day.
The big surprise news this week, though, is the announcement of Fairy Tale, which will be published on September 6, 2022. Many of us had been thinking the next book we’d see would be the Holly Gibney novel King mentioned in an interview with Linwood Barclay at Bloody Scotland last September. Based on the promotional copy from Scribner, it looks like that isn’t the case. The book is a “spellbinding novel about a seventeen-year-old boy who inherits the keys to a parallel world where good and evil are at war, and the stakes could not be higher—for their world or ours.” Read an excerpt from the novel here, and check out the full description below.
Charlie Reade looks like a regular high school kid, great at baseball and football, a decent student. But he carries a heavy load. His mom was killed in a hit-and-run accident when he was ten, and grief drove his dad to drink. Charlie learned how to take care of himself—and his dad. Then, when Charlie is seventeen, he meets Howard Bowditch, a recluse with a big dog in a big house at the top of a big hill. In the backyard is a locked shed from which strange sounds emerge, as if some creature is trying to escape. When Mr. Bowditch dies, he leaves Charlie the house, a massive amount of gold, a cassette tape telling a story that is impossible to believe, and a responsibility far too massive for a boy to shoulder.
Because within the shed is a portal to another world—one whose denizens are in peril and whose monstrous leaders may destroy their own world, and ours. In this parallel universe, where two moons race across the sky, and the grand towers of a sprawling palace pierce the clouds, there are exiled princesses and princes who suffer horrific punishments; there are dungeons; there are games in which men and women must fight each other to the death for the amusement of the “Fair One.” And there is a magic sundial that can turn back time.
A story as old as myth, and as startling and iconic as the rest of King’s work, Fairy Tale is about an ordinary guy forced into the hero’s role by circumstance, and it is both spectacularly suspenseful and satisfying.
Philippa Pride, King’s UK editor at Hodder, said: “Following the number one bestselling thriller Billy Summers, master storyteller Stephen King now turns his amazing imagination to the world of the fairytale. If you grew up reading the Brothers Grimm and came of age watching Stranger Things, you will relish this fabulous new novel which reminds us of both the richness of fairytales and the darker side of the ‘happily ever after’. Charlie’s quest to save his dog by entering a magical yet decaying land will certainly pull at your heartstrings, and we can’t wait to share this very special book with King’s legions of fans this summer.”
There’s been no definite publication date yet for McSweeney’s Issue 66, which contains King’s new story “Willie the Weirdo.” Amazon lists it as May 31, but the release date has been floating freely for a while. I brushed up on my high school French to read the translated version (“Willie le Zinzin”) in Bifrost n° 104. The story reminds me a little of “Gramma” crossed with “Apt Pupil.”
“Red Screen” was an interesting publishing experience. The story was only available for a little while as a “Humble Bundle” fundraiser for the ACLU. Hopefully you took the chance to get a copy. “A city detective interrogates a deranged plumber who just murdered his wife, only to discover something far more insidious.”
“A Face in the Crowd,” which King co-wrote with Stewart O’Nan, based on an idea he came up with while they were working on Faithful, will make its first-ever hardcover appearance (and, indeed, a rare print appearance of any type) in a unique “double” book from Cemetery Dance, pairing the story with an expanded version of Richard Chizmar’s “The Longest December.”
King contributed “Summer Thunder” to the charity anthology Revelations : Horror Writers for Climate Action edited by Sean O’Connor and published by Stygian Sky Media.
King isn’t particularly known for his culinary expertise (previously published recipes have included “Lunchtime Gloop,” which consists of a couple of cans of Franco American spaghetti with hamburger served on Wonder Bread), but that didn’t stop Theresa Carle-Sanders from writing Castle Rock Kitchen: Wicked Good Recipes from the World of Stephen King, which collects 80 classic and modern recipes inspired by Stephen King’s Maine, featuring dishes from the books set in Castle Rock, Derry, and other fictional towns, with a foreword from King. Recipes in the book include:
- Pancakes with the Toziers (It)
- Dog Days French Toast (Cujo)
- One-Handed Frittata (Under the Dome)
- Killer Mac and Cheese (“Gramma”)
- Supper: Blue Plate Special (11/22/63)
- Whopper Spareribs (The Tommyknockers)
- Crab Canapés (Pet Sematary)
- Moose-Lickit Fish & Chips (The Colorado Kid)
- Wild Mushroom Hand Pies (Bag of Bones)
- Holy Frijole Enchiladas (Elevation)
- Hermits for the Road (The Long Walk)
- Blueberry Cheesecake Pie (“The Body”)
- Homemade Root Beer (Carrie)
- Deadly Moonquake (“Drunken Fireworks“)
Have you seen The Magic of Stephen King from The Stephen Kingdom? One of my books shows up in it. Maybe I do, too! It’s great fun.
I contributed a couple of essays to the Overlook Connection’s 2022 Stephen King Calendar, which has a The Green Mile theme. I wrote about what it was like to be part of the online King fan community in 1996 when that book came out in installments plus a year-in-review piece.
Here’s a rundown of the adaptations that have been announced or updated since we last spoke:
- ‘Salems Lot (2022) is scheduled for a September 9 release. The cast features Lewis Pullman (Ben Mears), Makenzie Leigh (Susan Norton), Bill Camp (Matthew Burke), Spencer Treat Clark (Mike Ryerson), Alfre Woodard (Doctor Cody), William Sadler, Pilou Asbæk (Straker), John Benjamin Hickey (Father Callahan), Jordan Preston Carter, Nicholas Crovetti and Cade Woodward
- Firestarter (2022) will be released on May 13 in theaters and on Peacock. See the trailer here.
- No release date either for the Pet Sematary prequel.
- The cast for Mr. Harrigan’s Phone includes Donald Sutherland and Jaeden Martell (It), Joe Tippett, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Colin O’Brien & Cyrus Arnold. Filming for this Netflix feature began last fall.
- Billy Summers may become a 6-10 episode limited series from Bad Robot, with Ed Zwick directing.
- Epix is developing a second season of Chapelwaite, based on the short story “Jerusalem’s Lot.”
- Blumhouse Television has landed the rights to turn Later into a limited series star vehicle for Lucy Liu. Series creator Raelle Tucker wrote the pilot script.
- Rob Savage will direct a two-hour adaptation of “The Boogeyman” for Hulu. Sophie Thatcher (Yellowjackets) and Chris Messina are set to star. Production is expected to start later next month.
- Alex Kurtzman will spearhead a series adaptation of “The New York Times at Special Bargain Rates” for CBS.
- Brian Fuller is still working on his script for a Christine remake.
I have some more exciting news about a forthcoming project, but I’m going to wait until everything is set up for pre-orders. In the meantime, I have done several podcasts and interviews lately, most related to King’s books. Here are the most recent:
- The Dark Tower Radio: The Waste Lands 30th Anniversary (January 2022) — not yet posted as of this publication, but it should be up soon.
- The Love of Reading: What is the Stephen King Universe? (January 2022)
- Two Old Farts Discuss Science Fiction: Season 2, Episode 4: On Writing (November 2021)
- The New Panic Room Radio Show (October 2021)
- Kingcast podcast (Patreon), August 2021
- The Dark Tower Series – Explained, August 2021
- Stephen King Archives Vol. 1: “Jhonathan and the Witchs”, The Aftermath, and “I Was a Teenage Grave Robber,” The Losers’ Club®: A Stephen King Podcast, July 2021
- Two Old Farts Discuss Science Fiction: Season 1, Episode 7: The Dead Zone (June 2021)
That’s all for now. I hope everyone is keeping safe during these unusual and difficult times. We’ll all get through this eventually — get vaccinated, get boosted, and wear a mask!