I must confess that when I first heard that Epix was turning Stephen King’s early short story “Jerusalem’s Lot” into a ten-episode TV series, I wasn’t terribly excited. I don’t subscribe to that service, so I planned to give the show a miss. I thought it would turn out to be like the TV series The Mist, which bears little resemblance to the source material beyond the general concept. I’m here to tell you I was wrong, and this show is worth checking out. There is horror a-plenty here if you have plenty of patience for the show’s somewhat measured pace.
The Haven Foundation will be offering a very limited supply of signed books by Stephen King each month. The January selection is Secret Window. This was published as an exclusive Book-of-the-Month Club anthology of hard-to-find non-fiction pieces, little-known interviews, short stories, and articles, with an Introduction by Peter Straub. It was intended as a companion to On Writing. Copies will go on sale at 12 PM on Monday, January 15th (eastern time zone) and will be on an ‘as supplies last’ basis. They may be purchased at the Haven Foundation store. Unsigned hardcover copies of other King titles will also be available for purchase at the original cover price plus shipping. Many of these are now out-of-print in the hardcover edition. New titles will be added as they become available, so check back often for current inventory.
Stay tuned for an in depth interview with King at Lilja’s Library. He reported yesterday, “Abiut an hour ago I hung up the phone after doing a 45 minute long phone interview with King himself. Yes, you heard correct. Hearing ‘Hello Hans? Steve King…’ when I answered the phone was probably one of the weirdest (in a very good way) things I have ever experienced.”
You can buy the original cover art or prints of Edward Miller’s cover art for the PS Publishing edition of The Colorado Kidhere.
Dorman T. Shindler reviewed Secretary of Dreams in the St. Louis Dispatch. He called it “a Twilight Zone-like anthology featuring illustrated works by Stephen King that are reminiscent of the EC horror comics the author professes to love. The tales gathered here—featuring hordes of invading zombies, a haunted truck and a ‘storm’ of frogs—are well-suited to the treatment. And Glen[n] Chabourne’s pen and ink, nightmarish, illustrations (featuring lots of skeletal detail, rotting skin and deranged stares) is the perfect accompaniment. The difference here is that none of King’s words is edited, so the illustrations enhance rather than replace the prose. That makes for near perfection when it comes to King’s 1981 World Fantasy-winning story, ‘The Reach,’ a story Joyce Carol Oates once termed elegantly composed.” Here’s the transcript of Glenn Chadbourne’s recent chat.
The deadline to get your name in the back of the new limited edition of The Green Mile is Monday, November 13, 2006 at 5:00 EST. Visit Subterranean Press’s website for full details. In unrelated news, the movie version of The Green Mile has been voted the most tear-jerking film, beating Ghost and Titanic in a poll by the British Heart Foundation.
The issue of Playboy (December 2006) containing the new short story “Willa” is on many newsstands now.
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.
Welcome to the first installment of the web version of News from the Dead Zone. Those of you who read Cemetery Dance magazine know that I’ve been publishing a column in every issue for nearly five years now. However, because of the magazine’s publication schedule, getting timely information out has been a little problematic. With the relaunch of their web site, the good folks at CD suggested doing an online “lite” version of my column. The magazine version will continue, focusing more on in-depth analysis, review and commentary than on breaking news.
Up top, you’ll always find a handy-dandy calendar of important, upcoming dates so you can see at a glance what’s on the horizon. Then I’ll expand briefly on each item as news is announced. Then follow up in the next issue of CD magazine for more details and commentary.
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The next book due out from King is called Cell, which will be published on January 24th, 2006. Here is the description from the publisher as posted to the Barnes & Noble web site.
Civilization doesn’t end with a bang or a whimper. It ends with a call on your cell phone.
What happens on the afternoon of October 1 came to be known as the Pulse, a signal sent though every operating cell phone that turns its user into something . . . well, something less than human. Savage, murderous, unthinking-and on a wanton rampage. Terrorist act? Cyber prank gone haywire? It really doesn’t matter, not to the people who avoided the technological attack. What matters to them is surviving the aftermath. Before long a band of them-“normies” is how they think of themselves-have gathered on the grounds of Gaiten Academy, where the headmaster and one remaining student have something awesome and terrifying to show them on the school’s moonlit soccer field. Clearly there can be no escape. The only option is to take them on.
Cell is classic Stephen King, a story of gory horror and white-knuckling suspense that makes the unimaginable entirely plausible and totally fascinating.
I should have a review for you in the next issue, but let me just say that this book is sure to inspire some interesting discussions, with comparisons to classic books like The Stand and darker tales like The Regulators. King describes the book as “like cheap whisky . . . very nasty and extremely satisfying.” I find it interesting that the main character in Cell is a graphic novel artist who has just sold his first major project, given the recent announcement of a graphic novel Dark Tower series (see below).
When you read the book, look out for a character named Ray Huizenga. His sister paid $25,100 in an eBay charity auction of character names benefiting the First Amendment Project. The real-life Huizenga is a fishing captain and longtime King fan, but is also the son of the owner of the Miami Dolphins. Huizenga beat out another strong bidder who was willing to take out a credit line on his house for the honor of having a character in Cell named after him.
The Dark Tower fan community was recently thrilled to learn that Marvel comics was planning to release a series of graphic novels based on untold Dark Tower stories. Originally planned for a May 2006 release, a recent memo on King’s web site revealed a new schedule for this project.
Stephen and Marvel have decided to push back the launch of the Dark Tower comic books to 2007. “Given the size of the project and all the creative talent involved, I want to give the Marvel series all the room to breathe it needs and deserves,” said Stephen. “I’ve got so much else going on in 2006-two novels coming out, Cell and Lisey’s Story, and the work with John Mellencamp on ‘Ghost Brothers of Darkland County.’ The Marvel series is going to be a blast, and I want to have the time to enjoy it.”
The 1st issue of the yet-to-be-named first arc of the Dark Tower comic series will be shipping in February 2007. The last issue of this six-issue series will be shipping in July 2007. The first hardcover collection will be shipping in October 2007.
Though original reports billed this project as The Dark Tower 8, in truth the stories will fill in some of the gaps in Roland’s early history, in the era covering the trip to Mejis and the final battle at Jericho Hill, “new stories that delve into the life and times of the young Roland, revealing the trials and conflicts that lead to the burden of destiny he must assume as a man.”
Jae Lee is the illustrator who will bring King’s stories to life, and the colorist is Richard Isanove. The complete number of series has not been announced, but there may be as many as six different stories.
Though originally scheduled to be part of the series, Mick Garris’s adaptation of “Home Delivery” was shelved due to schedule changes for the series and his commitment to the Masters of Horror series on Showtime, which was recently renewed for a second season.
Among the cast members announced for the series are Steven Weber, Kim Delaney, William H. Macy, Henry Thomas, Tom Berenger, Marsha Mason, William Hurt and two actresses familiar from the recent ‘Salem’s Lot remake, Samantha Mathis and Rebecca Gibney. Richard Christian Matheson adapted “Battleground” and Lawrence M. Cohen (Carrie) penned “The End of the Whole Mess.” The show will run one episode per week during the summer months of 2006 starting with “Umney’s Last Case”—one of my favorite short stories—which will reportedly run without commercials. Filming is currently taking place in and around Sydney, Australia. An upcoming issue of Fangoria will feature a visit to the set.
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King and his collaborator John Mellencamp got together in November to continue their work on a musical production about death and reconciliation called “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County.” A member of The Dark Tower dot Net forum helped crew the latest reading. A self-admitted skeptic when he first heard about this project, he reported that the music is fantastic, the cast was great and, though there is still work to be done, he says it will be a worthwhile endeavor.
Mellencamp reports that the guys who did “Spamalot” are now involved, which may make the final stages of development “less hectic.” King’s story involves two brothers who dislike each other immensely. Their father takes them to their family vacation cabin, where, a generation before them, the father’s two older brothers killed each other in a similar sibling rivalry.
“There’s a confederacy of ghosts who also live in this house,” Mellencamp told Billboard. “The older (dead) brothers are there, and they speak to the audience, and they sing to the audience. That’s all I want to say, except through this family vacation, many things are learned about the family, and many interesting songs are sung.”
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CD’s very own Rich Chizmar co-scripted an adaptation of From a Buick 8 that is currently attached to George Romero as director, who also has the film rights to The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. However, recent reports hint that Romero may tackle another zombie feature before working on either of these King adaptations.
Galleys of Stephen King: Uncollected and Unpublished by Rocky Wood (The Complete Guide to the Works of Stephen King) are in distribution, so the book can’t be far behind. I’ve started perusing my copy and am impressed by the amount of information and detail contained in this volume. In addition to containing the first appearances of some very rare King works (a poem, and a chapter from the early novel Sword in the Darkness), the book highlights the various appearances of rare King stories and indicates the ones that were substantially revised for later publication. Makes me want to go back to some of the earlier appearances to refresh my memory of what the stories were like in their original incarnations.
A new King project called The Secretary of Dreams was announced recently. Stay tuned to the CD web page for more details very shortly. This one is very cool!