King of Crime Part III — Featured Review of LATER and what comes…later

Stephen King News From the Dead Zone

King of Crime: Part III — Featured Review of LATER and what comes…later

Today is publication day for Hard Case Crime’s 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 I of this three-part series, I looked at King’s earliest involvement with crime fiction. In Part II, I explored his more recent writings in the genre, including his previous two books with Hard Case Crime and the Mercedes series. Today, I review Later and look ahead to King’s next crime novel, Billy Summers.

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Dead Air: The Company of the Mad – The Stand Podcast

banner for Cemetery Dance's Dead Air column - neon green background with black writing

logo of The Company of the Mad podcast2020 was a hell of a year to be reading Stephen King’s 1978 novel, The Stand….never mind devoting an entire podcast to it.

Jason Sechrest thought the same thing — in fact, he was reading it when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. He took to Twitter with his thoughts about the book, and with a dream about examining it in detail in a podcast, and before he knew it he’d assembled an amazing lineup of co-hosts: director Mike Flanagan, author Tananarive Due, and journalist/author Anthony Breznican. The result is a six-episode podcast that is entertaining, informative, and incredibly timely. (You can WATCH The Company of the Mad: The Stand Podcast at TheStandPodcast.com, or LISTEN on Apple Podcasts here.)

With the final episode set to go live on January 20, Sechrest took a few moments to talk to Cemetery Dance about the origins of the project, and what he and his mad company learned along the way.Continue Reading

Stephen King: News from the Dead Zone #221

Stephen King News From the Dead Zone

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!

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Stephen King: News from the Dead Zone #220

Stephen King News From the Dead Zone

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.
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Bev Vincent reviews The Outsider (HBO)

Stephen King News From the Dead Zone

“There’s Always a Reasonable Explanation”

This Sunday, January 12th, HBO premieres the first two episodes of their 10-episode adaptation of The Outsider. Is it good? Absolutely. One of the best. Before I get into that, let me take a little step back.Continue Reading

Stephen King: News from the Dead Zone #213

Stephen King News From the Dead Zone

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!
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Stephen King: News from the Dead Zone #212

Stephen King News From the Dead Zone

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!
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Bev Vincent reviews ‘Sleeping Beauties’ by Stephen King and Owen King

Stephen King News From the Dead Zone

Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King
Scribner (September 26, 2017)
720 pages
Reviewed by Bev Vincent

The world has ended in many ways in post-apocalyptic fiction, but Owen and Stephen King have created a scenario unlike any other. It happens all at once, around the globe. Women who go to sleep (or are already asleep when the epidemic begins) won’t wake up. They form cocoons and go into a kind of hibernation. Disturbing sleeping women is a bad, bad idea: they attack anyone who breaks through the gauzy material.

Apparently pitching story ideas is a thing in the King family. Sleeping Beauties came about because Owen King suggested this idea to his father; it sounded like a Stephen King kind of story. The elder King immediately thought of all the possible ramifications of this concept, but told Owen he should write it. Eventually they agreed to work on it together.Continue Reading

Featured review: 'The Fireman' by Joe Hill

the-firemanThe Fireman by Joe Hill
William Morrow (May 17, 2016)
768 pages; $18.82 hardcover; $14.99 e-book
Reviewed by Bev Vincent

The Fireman, Joe Hill’s fourth novel, is an apocalyptic tale in which a deadly disease destroys the world. If this conjures thoughts of The Stand, it’s not a coincidence. Hill is on record as saying that the book is his version of The Stand “soaked in gasoline and set on fire.” In his dedication he says he stole “everything else” about the book from his father other than the title.

The illness that spreads like wildfire is Draco incendia trychophyton, a spore rather than a virus. People exposed to it do not burn with a fever—they simply burn. First, lesions develop. Some are almost decorative, resembling scales, hence the illness’s nickname: Dragonscale. Victims are mostly asymptomatic until they suddenly catch fire, usually when under stress. It’s a devastating and terrifying disease, because the conflagration takes out others in the vicinity. Buildings burn, then city blocks, and cities, and more.Continue Reading

Stephen King: News from the Dead Zone #187

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.Continue Reading

Stephen King: News from the Dead Zone #186

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.

UrWe 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.Continue Reading

Stephen King: News from the Dead Zone #182

Next week will be busy for Stephen King. On September 9, he will be appearing in Cambridge, MA in conversation with Lee Child to promote the new Jack Reacher novel, Make Me. The next day, he will be among the eleven individuals receiving the National Medal of Arts from President Obama in the East Wing of the White House. The citation says, “One of the most popular and prolific writers of our time, Mr. King combines his remarkable storytelling with his sharp analysis of human nature. ” Then, on the following day, September 11, he will be a guest on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show during its inaugural week.Continue Reading

Stephen King: News from the Dead Zone #175

I suppose everyone’s busy reading or listening to Revival, right? The book has been out for a week now, and King has wrapped up his six-city tour in support of the novel. He also made a couple of media appearances:

Excerpts from the audio version, read by David Morse, are being released over the next seven weeks at Experience Revival.

King talked about a few projects he might like to work on in the future. He’s interested in returning to the Dark Tower someday, probably to tackle The Battle of Jericho Hill. He wants to write a story about Franny falling down a well after she and Stu head for Maine. And he hopes to work with Peter Straub on a third book about Jack Sawyer. This one garnered the most interest, especially after a photo emerged of the two of them together following King’s signing in New York. However, his administrative assistant indicated that this won’t necessarily happen soon, despite intentions. Read her statement here.

I hope you’re checking out the journey Rich Chizmar is taking at Stephen King Revisited. Starting a couple of weeks ago, he is reading all of King’s books in publication order, including collections, Bachman books and non-fiction. At a pace of 2-3 books per month, we estimate this endeavor will take around two years. I’m along for the ride, writing historical background essays for each book. There are also guest essayists who’ll be appearing from time to time. For example, Ray Garton wrote about Carrie. This week we took on book #2: ‘Salem’s Lot. My essay went up yesterday and Rich’s today. Check ’em out and come on this incredible journey with us.

We now have the title for King’s next story collection: The Bazaar of Bad Dreams will contain twenty stories (not yet identified), and will be published by Scribner in November 2015.

Before that, though, on June 2, 2015, we’ll have Finders Keepers, the follow-up to Mr. Mercedes. Today, Scribner released the book’s description. It’s fairly detailed, so if you want to read the book unspoiled, you might want to skip it!

“Wake up, genius.” So begins King’s instantly riveting story about a vengeful reader. The genius is John Rothstein, a Salinger-like icon who created a famous character, Jimmy Gold, but who hasn’t published a book for decades. Morris Bellamy is livid, not just because Rothstein has stopped providing books, but because the nonconformist Jimmy Gold has sold out for a career in advertising. Morris kills Rothstein and empties his safe of cash, yes, but the real treasure is a trove of notebooks containing at least one more Gold novel.

Morris hides the money and the notebooks, and then he is locked away for another crime. Decades later, a boy named Pete Sauberg finds the treasure, and now it is Pete and his family that Bill Hodges, Holly Gibney, and Jerome Robinson must rescue from the ever-more deranged and vengeful Morris when he’s released from prison after thirty-five years.

Not since Misery has King played with the notion of a reader whose obsession with a writer gets dangerous. Finders Keepers is spectacular, heart-pounding suspense, but it is also King writing about how literature shapes a life—for good, for bad, forever.

ICYMI, here’s King’s interview from Rolling Stone. There’s also a companion article: The World of Stephen King, A to Z.

Did you know that the revised and updated edition of The Illustrated  Stephen King Trivia Book is now available as an eBook?

Stephen King: News from the Dead Zone #173

If you read back over my previous several posts here, you’ll see that they’ve all been leading up today, the launch of Season 5 of Haven, the Syfy TV series loosely based on The Colorado Kid. This season will consist of 26 episodes, spread over the fall and spring in two 13-episode blocks. I visited the set at the end of June, when they were working on the 7th and 8th episodes. This morning, I had the chance to see tonight’s episode, “See No Evil,” which starts immediately after the final moments of Season 4, at which point William had been tossed through the portal under the lighthouse and Audrey had become her original form of herself, Mara, a trouble-maker in the most literal form.

In the first episode, something destroys the lighthouse and the cavern beneath and, presumably, the portal. The main characters are scattered far and wide before the blast, so for a while no one knows where anyone else is, and some time is spent in getting everyone back together. Nathan is the first one to encounter “Audrey,” but she’s not the woman he loves. Not on the surface, anyway. Mara (and kudos to Emily Rose for creating such a different personality, someone who is as gleefully malign as William) has an agenda, and she’s not going to let anyone stand in her way. She wants to get William back, something she can only achieve by a doorway or, rather, via a thinny, which will be a familiar concept to Dark Tower fans. However, something vexes her plans. And Nathan hasn’t given up hope that Audrey is still inside somewhere and he can bring her back.

On another front, Duke is trying to find Jennifer, who is the only lighthouse person unaccounted for. And, of course, there’s a Trouble, which manifests itself in people having their eyes and/or mouths sewn shut with a leather cord that defies all efforts to remove it. Though everyone tries to impress on Dwight the importance of reining in Mara, he knows this Trouble has the potential to be deadly, so that’s his #1 priority. The repercussions of Audrey giving Duke back his Trouble in the penultimate episode last season also start to come to light, and it’s a doozy. And, based on the previews for the season I’ve seen so far, there are going to be callbacks to a lot of past Troubles. Mara made ’em, so she could potentially use them as weapons to achieve her nefarious goals.

And I’m very worried about Dave Teagues. Is he having morphine-induced nightmares or terrifying memories?

Interested in learning more about the origins of the Troubles? There’s a 16-page mini-comic in the Season 4 DVD, and a web series called Haven Origins coming on September 12. Here’s a trailer for it.


King will embark on a six-city book tour to promote the release of Revival. He will appear in New York City (Nov 11), Washington, DC (Nov 12), Kansas City, MO (Nov 13), Wichita, KS (Nov 14), Austin, TX (Nov 15) and South Portland, ME (Nov 17). Further details regarding the itinerary will be posted on King’s official website on September 15th.

Issue 1 of The Prisoner, the first cycle adapting The Drawing of the Three from Marvel, came out this week. For the first time, these comics are being offered digitally as well as in print.

In case you missed it, King’s latest short story “That Bus Is Another World” appeared in the August issue of Esquire. Also, here is King’s response to the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS. And here is an interview with King about how he teaches writing, from the Atlantic.

The PBS series Finding Your Roots will feature King in its first episode of the new season on September 23. In this promo, King is shown a photo of his father and in this one, he learns more about his distant ancestors.

Encore is running King movies every day during September, with a special selection scheduled for King’s birthday.

There’s lots of news on the movie/TV front. Let’s hit the high spots:

  • A Good Marriage will be in cinemas and available via Video On Demand on October 3. ‘We went in fearlessly’: Stephen King on adapting A Good Marriage for film.
  • Big Driver will premiere on Lifetime on Saturday, October 18 at 8pm ET/PT. The movie stars Maria Bello, Olympia Dukakis, Joan Jett, Will Harris and Ann Dowd (from The Leftovers). The script is by Richard Christian Matheson, with Mikael Salomon directing. Here is a teaser video.
  • Mercy, the film adaptation of “Gramma,” will be “dumped to digital” in October. I assume this means it’s going straight to Video On Demand.
  • Mr. Mercedes will be a 10-episode TV series. Jack Bender will be on the production team.
  • CBS has ordered a “put pilot” (a serious commitment) from Warner Bros. TV for a series based on “The Things They Left Behind.” It is described as a supernatural procedural drama in which an unlikely pair of investigators carry out the unfinished business of the dead.
  • Mark Romanek will direct Overlook Hotel, the prequel to The Shining.
  • In this video, King discusses his involvement with the second season of Under the Dome, which is nearing the end of its second season. There are also a couple of good interviews with him: Stephen King Isn’t Afraid Of The Big Bad Adaptation and Written by — and tweaked for TV by — Stephen King
  • Now that Cell has wrapped, King teased what he could about the film. “The movie is not totally close to the original screenplay that I wrote,” he said. “But I’ll tell you what, the end of it is so goddamn dark and scary. It’s really kind of a benchmark there.”
  • Writer Jeff Buhler has come aboard director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo’s Pet Sematary reboot for Paramount. He discusses the project with Dread Central.
  • The Stand director Josh Boone says: I finished writing the script maybe a month ago. Stephen [King] absolutely loved it. It’s, I think, the first script ever approved by him. [It’ll be] a single version movie. Three hours. It hews very closely to the novel…I don’t imagine we would shoot the movie until next Spring at the earliest. His full comments are available at Collider.

Stephen King: News from the Dead Zone #166

Mr. Mercedes debuted in the #1 position on the Publishers Weekly hardcover fiction list and #2 on USA Today’s mixed fiction list (which includes paperbacks). There is a lot of associational material to explore at King’s official website. For example, there’s The Basement, an interactive adventure that takes you into Brady’s domain, where you can delve into the things that are stored on his array of PCs. For some clues on how to get started, it helps to watch the video of Brady’s letter to Detective Hodges. There’s also a book trailer, a saucy TV commercial, an excerpt from the audio book, some “merch” at the Cafe Press store, and a letter from KingTemple Hill and Media Rights Capital have acquired the movie rights to the novel. King talks about the real-life incident that inspired the novel here, but to-date he has only given one interview. There’s also a collection of many of the reviews on his site, and I have another collection of reviews here.

Hodder & Stoughton also produced a whimsical series of promos in which the villain of Mr. Mercedes is introduced by the likes of Annie Wilkes, Carrie White, Andy Dufresne, Pennywise and Danny Torrance.

The big news, of course, is the fact that Mr. Mercedes is the first book in a proposed trilogy. King has already finished the first draft of the second novel, which will be called Finders Keepers. The tentative publication date is sometime in the first half of 2015. King says that the three books “seem to revolve around the City Center Massacre that opens Mr. Mercedes.”

Before we get to Finders Keepers, though, we have Revival, which comes out in November. The newly released paperback edition of Doctor Sleep contains an eight-page excerpt of that novel. And there is a good possibility of a collection in late 2015, bringing together all of the recent short story appearances, including some of those that you can find on my list here. No word yet on whether there will be any brand new stories in the collection. The third book in the Mr. Mercedes trilogy will presumably be out in 2016. I don’t think we’ve known King’s publication schedule so far in advance since 1986-7, when we knew about the next four books he planned to publish.

Big news for people who haven’t had a chance to see Ghost Brothers of Darkland County yet. The musical play will go on tour this fall, with dates in Orono, Toronto, Philadelphia, Durham, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Red Bank, N.J., Portland, ME, Boston, Providence, New York, Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Denver, Phoenix, Los Angeles and San Francisco in November and December. See the announcement here.

Just a few weeks until the return of Under the Dome, with the first episode scripted by King. You can see a 30-second clip of King reading the opening section of the episode. On June 23, CBS will run Inside Chester’s Mill, a one-hour special that features highlights from last season and new interviews with the cast and executive producers. In addition, the special will have an advance sneak peek at the season two premiere. The second season will be missing its original showrunner and executive producer Brian K. Vaughan.

Although it had a premiere in New York in April, there’s been very little news about the fate of the film version of A Good Marriage. Last week, though, it was announced that Screen Media Films acquired North American rights to the film, with plans to distribute it in early October, with a nationwide theatrical release accompanied by a day-and-date VOD platform release. “I’m delighted that A Good Marriage is going to be available to the movie going public very soon, and hope we can scare the hell out of millions of people,” King said. “To me, that’s always an exciting prospect.”

Josh Boone, currently riding high with his film adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars, promises a three-hour R-rated single film adaptation of The Stand with “an amazing A-list cast across the board…Every single one of those characters will be somebody you recognize and somebody you relate to. And it’s gonna be awesome.” The only person named as a potential cast member is Nat Wolff. Of course, Boone isn’t the first director to try to get a grip on this remake.

In other movie news, the story that is thus far only available in French and German, Bad Little Kid, has been optioned by Laurent Bouzereau , who wrote and directed the 2011 TCM film A Night at the Movies: The Horrors of Stephen King, which featured King discussing horror films and their popularity with moviegoers.

Oculus and Somnia director Mike Flanagan has committed todirect Gerald’s Game. Flanagan wrote the script with his writing partner Jeff Howard. There’s also an unconfirmed rumor that Gravity director director Alfonso has been approached to direct a prequel to The Shining titled The Overlook Hotel.

TNT is developing  a TV series called The Shop, billed as a sequel to Firestarter. The drama centers on the insidious agency responsible for kidnapping and attempting to exploit the psychokinetic powers of a young girl named Charlie McGee in the original story. Now it’s 20 years later and Charlie has been tracked down by one of The Shop’s former members, Henry Talbot, who introduces her to a group of people with their own unique abilities. From the announcement: “It turns out The Shop is very much alive, bigger and badder than ever, and its dark experiments are unleashing terrifying new entities on the world. It’s now up to Talbot, Charlie and the rest of the team to find The Shop and destroy it for good.”

Here’s a fun dialog between King and Damon Lindelof, as captured by Entertainment Weekly.

The Marvel graphic novel adaptation of the Dark Tower series returns in September with the five-issue series The Prisoner, which tells the backstory of Eddie Dean before he met Roland. You can check out the cover and the first pages here. The artist is Piotr Kowalski. Here’s the promo text: As this tale of urban crime opens, you’ll meet Eddie Dean as an innocent child who grows into a troubled young man gifted with the ability to open doors to other worlds. Can he survive family tragedy, a haunting addiction, and the deadly forces that conspire to stop him from challenging the Man in Black? Eddie faces trials and tribulations at every turn – and the badlands of Mid-World can’t hold a candle to the dangers of Brooklyn in the 1960s! Witness the story of a young man on the path to an unlikely destiny and the most important journey of his life.