“No one will believe it really happened”
Stephen King doesn’t hide the identity of the murderers at the center of Holly Gibney’s latest case in the novel that bears her name. In 2012, Emily and Rodney Harris, professors emeritus at Bell College, tricked a colleague named Jorge Castro into helping them resolve a roadside issue. They drugged him and took him to a dungeon in the basement of their presentable home in a respectable part of town.
Why did the elderly Harrises kidnap him, why do they force him to eat something unpalatable, and what are their plans? Since Castro knows the identity of his abductors, it doesn’t seem likely he’ll be released. The popular consensus is that he packed up and left town abruptly, although his lover doesn’t agree.
King of Crime: Part II — Hard Case Crime and Beyond
Next week — on March 2nd, 2021 to be specific — Hard Case Crime will publish their third Stephen King novel, Later. Although King is generally thought of as a horror writer, he has written numerous crime short stories, novellas and novels, giving them a unique twist. In Part 1 of this three-part series, I looked at King’s earliest involvement with crime fiction. This week, I’ll explore his more recent writings in the genre, including his previous two books with Hard Case Crime and the Mercedes series. Then, on publication day, I’ll review Later and look ahead to King’s next crime novel, Billy Summers.
Hard Case Crime (The Colorado Kid, Joyland) will publish Stephen King’s next supernatural crime novel in March 2021. Later will be a paperback original (cover by Paul Mann) and eBook, but there will also be a limited edition hardcover featuring two covers by Gregory Manchess, one for Later itself and one for a fictitious novel within the novel that features prominently in the plot.
In this installment of News from the Dead Zone, I’ll tell you a little more about Later, bring you up to date on recent King appearances, let you know what adaptations you can expect to see soon, which ones are in production, which ones are on the table and which ones have died on the vine. I’ll also give you an early look at Hope and Miracles from Gauntlet Press, which collects the screenplays of The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, along with tons of ancillary material. Pull up a chair!
It’s the end of an era. On June 30, 2020, the message board at Stephen King’s official website closed permanently. On the same day, his long-time personal/executive assistant, Marsha DeFilippo, retired.
Shortly after King launched his website in 1998, a guest book was added to the site. By 2003, this was converted to a “message board,” an unthreaded list of comments from fans that were occasionally answered by the staff.
“I Contain Multitudes”
What is a novella? In some quarters, it’s defined as a long short story or a short novel. But this is the Stephen King Universe we’re dealing with, where “The Langoliers,” coming it at over 90,000 words—a length many writers would find appropriate for a novel—is considered a novella because it was bundled with three other works of similar length. On the other side, some often consider the four entries in The Bachman Books novellas because they are bundled in similar fashion when, in fact, all four were originally published as standalone novels.
During his live reading of the first chapter of the novella “If It Bleeds” on YouTube last week, King described the book If It Bleeds as a collection of three novellas and a short novel. The four works, “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone,” “The Life of Chuck,” “If It Bleeds,” and “Rat” come in at 85, 60, 187 and 85 pages respectively.
The original King novella collection, Different Seasons, was notable in that three of the four stories had no supernatural elements. The same claim could almost be made about If It Bleeds, although with some caveats. Strange things appear in every story—a dead man avenging the protagonist, a room where people see visions of impending death, a shapeshifting scavenger, and a talking rat that grants wishes—but an argument could be made that in at least two stories, and maybe three, the existence of the supernatural is, itself, speculative. It could also be based on assumptions made by the characters or their delusions. About the fourth story, though, there is no question.
Sometimes it’s hard to stay on top of everything that’s going on in the Stephen King Universe. There are so many projects underway or about to get underway or that could possibly some day get underway that it boggles the mind. This is a new Golden Age for King, especially when it comes to the various adaptations of his work to screens large and small, silver and otherwise. I’m here to help you keep track!