Scott Snyder: SK ‘One of the best writers of all time’?

Cover art for “American Vampire” No. 22 (DC Comics)

The LA Times had an interesting interview in September with Scott Snyder of American Vampire.  Snyder talks about working with Stephen King, calling him (as the article's title suggest) one of the best writers of all time.

Snyder says he first got hooked on King at camp when the counselor would read to them from Eyes of the Dragon.  He says it was magic listening to the novel unfold. 

How did Snyder end up working with King?  Here's a bit of that story:

 Working with him is a joy. How that came out was really weird. He read some of my stories and wrote a blurb for my short story collection after he had read them. I was just incredibly honored and thrilled. And then when I got “American Vampire” through at Vertigo and it was greenlit, they basically asked me if I would be willing to ask Steve King to do a blurb. After sending him the outline, he said, “Well, I’ll do you one better. I’d love to write an issue sometime, because I really love that character Skinner.” And I was like, “Well, if I tell them you want to write an issue they’re going to want you writing.” He was like, “Nah. They probably won’t because I never wrote a comic, and I don’t know if I’m any good. I don’t think they’ll really want me to do it.” I was like, “They’ll definitely want you to write that comic. I promise.” So, I called them on like a Friday and left a message: “I think Steve’s going to want to say he’s willing to write an issue.” Monday morning it was a call from the whole office: “Did you say Stephen King said he would be willing to write a whole issue of ‘American Vampire?’” . . . MORE HERE

Reading the interview makes me much more interested in American Vampire. 

11.22.63 Journal #2: Derry Doesn't Welome You

I don't know how many novel's Stephen King has written.  Do you count Blockade Billy?  Why is the Mist a novella, but The Girl who Loved Tom Gordon is a novel ?  Whatever the number -- it's a lot.  In fact, King has written a whole lot of novels.  Every one of them have been entertaining.  Each novel is also practice.  Put another way, King's writing keeps getting better.

I weary of people who suggest that King's greatest novels were the first dozen.  While I enjoy those novels a lot, I think it is naive to think that King's writing has not strengthened with time and experience. 

King has said that he tried to write 11.22.63 years ago, but discovered he was not ready to take on such a monumental challenge.  The novel is different from other King novels just by the amount of research and historical data required to build the story.  What is not different is King's crisp, entertaining and often lively narration.  While the book is long, King does not belabor scenes or commit the sin of boring the reader! 

That sign from the IT mini-series ought to read "Derry Does Not Welcome You."
King skillfully weaves history and fiction.  For instance, we all know Derry is really Bangor.  But it's a messed up Bangor!  A city where a monster roams and kills little kids.  In 1/22/63 King lets us in on a side of Derry we missed in IT.  He reveals what the city and it's adults are enduring as its children are killed.  How do child murders darken a city?  Makes me think of Atlanta. 

Derry is a city where people are not just guarded, they are down right unfriendly -- suspicious. 

In his wonderful book, "Stephen King Country", George Beahm writes
"In reading King, the sense you get is that his literary landscape -- a geographic jigsaw puzzle -- is an ongoing exploration, for not only was IT set in the mythical Derry, but so is Insomnia and, most recently, Bag of Bones." (Stephen King country, p.107)
Beahm also notes:
"Equipped with a street map of Bangor, you would be able to identify on a walking or driving through much of the geography found in IT.  In addition, the references to Bangor and the greater Bangor area dot the novel's imaginative landscape."  (p.104)
Beahm then takes us on a tour of real world / fictional world linkages.  I have added notes at the end of Beahms comments to connections I spotted in 11/22/63. (Beahms list is on pages104, 106-107)  Beahm's writing is in yellow and my notes are orange

The Barrens:
There are several photo's of the Barrens HERE.
 "[A] messy track of land about a mile and a half wide by three miles long.  It was bounded by upper Kansas Street on one side and by old Cape on the other."  (In the novel, this is where the sewer pipes lead underground to IT's lair.) 

This is also mentioned in 11/22/63.  Where half a dozen murdered kids were discovered.  There is a grassy pic-nic area between a fence and the drop into the barrens where Jack encounters a couple of the children from IT.  This meeting is a particularly magical scene for readers of IT.

Bassey Park:

 In IT, this is the park that flanks the high school.  Real-life Bangor has a Bass Park. 

In 11/22/63, this is where the "so called" kissing bridge is.  There are a lot of carvings on the bridge, including the words, "I will kill my mother soon" and someone else has carved, "not soon enough, she's full of diseeze."

Derry Library:

For two of the Losers -- Ben Hansomb and Mike Hanlon -- this library was especially significant: It was Ben's favorite place as a child; and as a adult, it was Hanlon' place of employment.  (He also kept in its vault his manuscript, "Derry: An Unauthorized Two History."  Real-life Bangor's Public Library is situated on Harlow Street. 

In 11/22/63, Jack visits the library to try and find census records.  Also at the Derry library, Jack researched the murders that took place between 1957 and 1958.  In 2011 Jack used the Derry library system to do research online.

The Derry Mall:

 In IT, Dave Gardener had one of his Shoeboat retail stores in this mall.  Bangor has Bangor Mall, now the major shopping area of the city. 

In 11/22/63 Jack uses the cover that he is scouting for a mall.  Though he never quite says this, he just says he's there on business.

Mount Hope Cemetery:
photo credit HERE
The empty spot in the middle is where Stephen King presided over the funeral in the movie Pet Sematary
In IT, this is where George Denbrough was buried.  (Readers of Pet Sematary will probably notice that this was where Gage Creed was buried.)  In Bangor, the Mount Hope Cemetery is where, for the film version of Pet Sematary, Stephen King, as a minister, presided over Creed's funeral at this real life cemetery in Bangor. 

In 11/22/63 the Cemetery is Longview -- where Frank Dunning visits his parents grave, and where some sweet justice is delivered.

The Standpipe:

 A prominent landmark in Derry, a water tower that holds almost two million gallons. Real-life Bangor's Standpipe, on top of a hill, is one of its most prominent landmarks, towering over the city. 

In 11/22/63 there are decorative pillows with the Standpipe embroidered in gold thread on them.

The Paul Bunyan statue
The statue is mentioned in 11/22/63 -- small replica's are sold in Benton's drug store.

The University of Maine:

Two of the losers -- Bill Denbrough and Mike hanlon -- graduated from here. . . Stephen and Tabitha King -- and Stephen's childhood friend Chris Chesley -- are graduates of this university. 

In 11/22/63 the narrator, Jack Epping has a B.S. from the University of Maine. He also says that Carolyn Poulin went to the University of Maine as a Business major. Frank Dunning seems to have a sweet spot for the school. It was his school of choice, but he got a girl pregnant and life took other turns. Dunning also took his kids to the football game at the University of Maine.

Penobscot County & River

Fictinal Derry as well as real-life Bangor are located in this county.  Penobscot River: The sewers in Derry empty into the Penobscot; running east-west, it bisects Bangor and Brewer.

St. Joseph Hospital:

After she broke her leg in a car crash, Cheryl Tarrent was taken here.  In reality, located in Bangor.

West Broadway:

The street in Derry known for its mansions and Bangor's most famous street historically, where the lumber barons at the turn of the century made their homes. The King's home is on West Broadway. 
  • Shawshank (fictional): A Maine prison where an Air Force colonel is sent after getting Cheryl Lamonica pregnant.  (This is also where Andy Dufresne was incarcerated, in "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption.")  In 11/22/63, Harry's dad was sent to Shawshank, and died of stomach poisoning.  There are about 3 references to this prison in the novel.
  • The Viking Press: The publishing house in New York City where Bill Denbrough submitted his first novel, a horror story about ghosts.  before King defected to Scribner, he was published in hardcover by Viking.  There is no mention of the Viking Press in 11/22/63.  What a surprise!
  • The Frati Brothers Pawnshop: In the novel, this store was replaced in 985 by a Trustworthy Hardware Store. In Bangor, not far from Betts Bookstore, you'll find the Frati Brothers Pawnshop.  In 11/22/63 it is called "Chaz Frati's Mermaid Pawn & Loan."  I was unable to locate this.
Other places in 11/22/63 that I don't think are actually in Bangor:
  • Machen Sporting Goods.
  • Derry Townhouse.
  • The Lamlighter (a bar and grill.)
  • The Center Street Market
George Beahms book "Stephen King Country" can be purchased HERE.

Stephen King’s Rules for Time Travel

Here is a Wired interview with Stephen King about the mechanics of time travel.  They cover: "the grandfather paradox, and the scariest thing about trying to change history."  The grandfather paradox is the question: What if you went back in time and killed your own grandfather?  They also discuss the "butterfly effect" which is dealt with in detail in the novel.

Here's a clip from their discussion of the "reset" idea:
King: The idea of the reset was one of the more interesting things about the book to me. You can get the idea from computers, where you can delete all this material and start over again and it never even leaves a mark. You just highlight everything, bop Delete, and it’s gone.

Wired: Well, on a computer you think it’s gone, but it’s actually not.

King: It’s like in the story. They think it’s a complete reset, but the guardian tells Jake that it really isn’t. It looked that way to you, but that stuff was still there.

Bev Vincent's Interview With Mick Garris

Director Mick Garris with 89-year-old William Schallert, who plays Max Devore
Fearnet has posted a 2 part interview with Bev Vincent.  I really like Vincent's books about King -- usually related to the Dark Tower. 

Vincent and Garris discuss the original plan for Bag of Bones to be a feature film and how it progressed into a mini-series.  Garris levels with us, saying, "the two-hour script really felt like we were missing stuff."  I love his passion for staying faithful to the King source material.  Garris also tells Vincent that there was no network censorship! 

Also discussed are filming locations and special effects.  In fact, Garris promises, "There are a lot of key visual effects.  Sara and the tree sequences. There are hauntings. They're not all over the movie, but there are some pretty extensive things in it."

Is Stephen King in Bag of Bones?  Check out the interview (the answer is in part 1)  Garris also discusses what other actor was considered for the part of Noonan.

The Interview: Part 1
The Interview: Part 2
The Interview: Part 3

Insane clown Machines

Brickfair 2009 Insane Clown Machines Derry Maine:

Walking Dead

In a post titled, "‘We Can’t Go Out There!!’ Sunday Brings The Last WALKING DEAD Till February!!" Hercules, a mastermind of cool news -- at ain't it cool news -- (there is so much cool here that you should feel the need to put on a jacket) says the following about The Walking Dead:
Tonight brings the midseason finale of “The Walking Dead.” It may also be the episode that was being written when AMC fired “Walking Dead” mastermind Frank Darabont, writer-director of “The Shawshank Redemption,” “The Green Mile” and “The Mist.” I’m guessing that when Darabont left, so did plans for Stephen King to write an episode.
Hercules then offers 3 predictions, which I will not give away.  They are cloaked in mystery!  Unless you go over to his website. . . which is cloaked in mystery!  Unless you click on this link.

Audio of McCammon's SWAN SONG

For many of us, one of the mysteries of the universe has long been: Why is the unabridged Stand not on audio?  Seconded only by: Why isn't Swan Song on audio book?  Thanks to audible, Swan Song on audio is now a reality, read by Tom Stechschulte.  Swan Song is also available as a Kindle download.

People are already making the connection to The Stand in the comments section of audible.    One poster writes, "If you loved The Stand, you HAVE to get this book. If you don’t mind the hairs standing up on the back of your neck, get this book. If you’re looking for an epic good read that you can’t put down, get this book. It will scare you and keep your nerves tied up from start to finish. It's one of those books that you don't want to end."

I think McCammon doesn't like the comparison -- but I think it is a natural one. The two books are not at all "the same", but they have similar themes and tone.

Get it here at AUDIBLE.

The Dark Tower Still Homeless

While Ron Howard signs new deals with HBO, Deadline gives this quote from Akiva Goldsman, “we’re still pushing the boulder uphill.” Deadline says that Goldsman is optimistic that the ambitious project will find a home “very soon.” But he just signed a 2 year deal with HBO to make a series about Doc Holliday.  Ron Howard is expected to direct the pilot. 

Deadline article is HERE.

Has A Weakness Been Found?

The reviews for 11.22.63 have been fantastic.  King is the master of his craft!  His scenes are powerful, fresh and driven.  Is there any weakness in his writing?

The Atlantic Wire has a summery of a "shortlist" from the Literary Review -- a list King is on.  So what's the list?  Well, this is a bit awkward, but it's. . . "the shrotlist for this year's Bad Sex in Fiction Award." (Literary Review

The Atlantic notes that "the publication highlighted the clinical, overheated, and/or ham-fisted bedroom scenes that helped each text earn its on the list."  The Huffington post says that this year's winner will be announced at a ceremony at the Naval & Military Club in London.

Here is the line that caught their attention, "She was wearing jeans. The fabric whispered under my palm. She leaned back and her head bonked on the door. 'Ouch!' I said. 'Are you all right?'"

So that line gets him an award?  I haven't reached that point in the book, but on its own it's not that awkward -- is it?

The Literary Review wrote, "In a year in which literary awards have come under fire for parochialism and dumbing-down, Literary Review is proud to uphold and recognise literary excellence from around the world.  Authors in the running hail from, among other nations, the USA, Hungary, Japan and Australia. Two are annually mentioned in the same breath as the Nobel Prize."

So, simple question friends: Are King's love scenes awkward?

11.22.63 Journal #1 : Time Travel As A Story Device

Just some notes on time travel, since it is part of the core of 11/22/63.  A lot of this has to do with how King writes and structures a novel.

Not A Big Leap

11/22/63 requires a simple leap that isn't very hard for 21st century readers -- time travel is possible.  We've had entire series of novels built on the time travel theory.  Because it is already an established storyline in our culture, King doesn't have to spend forever convincing of the concept.  However, King does some creative rule bending to make his story work -- namely the idea of "re-setting."

A few ways we've gone back in time:
--H.G. Wells novel, "The Time Machine" used a machine.
--Back To The Future, a Delorean.
--Star Trek flew real fast around the sun. (Star Trek 4) Actually, Star Trek often popped through time without a lot of concern for the method used.
--Superman flew real fast around the earth.
--The Gunslinger went through doors.
--In The Time Travelers Wife the traveler manipulated time himself (we think. . .) Of course, the rules of that game involved appearing naked in whatever time he found himself! Glad Jack doesn't have to deal with that little nuance.

Something outside the characters created a time portal.  It's not a machine carefully constructed by mad scientist; it's simply a rabbit hole of some kind.

By not building a time machine, King (brilliantly) fixes several problems.  For one thing, the novel doesn't need to focus on "where will we go?"  The answer is already determined.  The question to be dealt with is instead, "What shall we do when we get there?"  Also, by not constructing a time machine, King avoids the critical question, "Wow, a time machine -- how's that puppy work?"  Doesn't matter how it works!  Don't know.  It is, what Hitchcock would call a kind of "mcGuffin", existing only to propel the plot.

How Doesn't Matter

King doesn't worry a lot about how things work, he's tracking with characters.  So it really doesn't mater how the Dome appears, or how the space ship in Tommyknockers really works, or how the car operates in Buick 8.  How exactly did cell phones ringing result in being turned into a zombie?  Not clear on that one!  And how does an ancient burial ground bring back the dead?  Doesn't matter.  The vehicle for King stories are never as important as the plot and characters.  They don't drive the story, they simply accommodate necessary transportation.

I like King's approach.  King also avoids the "why" question! Why is there a time portal here?  Well, at least the early side of this book doesn't worry about that.  The story just plunges forward! 

By cutting out the "why" "when" and "how" questions, King is given the freedom to explain the ground rules for the time portal without getting too detailed.  "But why does it work that way?" can't really be asked, since the answer is: Who knows! 

And the tricky little gotcha in this time travel scenario: Everything resets on every re-entery. "Why is there a reset?" Well, that can't be explained! Don't worry about it, because we don't need to deal with how's and why's.  King don't boar us with details about how it can be, he just says, "Go with it, okay.  This'll be fun."  I think people who get stuck on details find King difficult to read for this very reason.

My friend Bryant Burnette put it this way:
"If you stop and look at his bibliography, King has written a large amount of books and stories that can be considered to be sci-fi, but he's never worried too much about making his narratives be about the science more than the fiction. Instead, he comes up with scenarios that are just plausible enough that you figure they COULD have a scientific rationale. By focusing on characters who, themselves, don't know anything about how the science works -- Carrie White's telekinetic abilities are obviously scientific in nature, but she is in no position to tell us much about them -- King deftly avoids the need to craft hard sci-fi."  (His blog is HERE)
Teacher, I Have A Question

Now there is a question that comes to mind.  Remember, though, I'm writing as I read -- so many of you have answers I don't!  But a question the characters have not considered thus far is, why is THAT date important?  They have to wait several years to come to the Kennedy assassination.  Why does the rabbit hole go to that date.  Is there something they are supposed to do?

Remakes Worth Considering

It's an era of remakes.  Talk of remaking movies like Pet Sematary makes fans scratch their heads -- what was wrong with the original?  Same with Carrie; though I do whole-heartedly embrace the TV version.  Why did they remake Salem's Lot?  And please, please, please Hollywood -- stop giving us Children Of The Corn remakes, sequels or any other media.  The Children of the Corn is DOA by now! 

If someone wants to remake King films, I have a few suggestions! 

How about remaking Dolores Claiborne? The book was awesome; the movie stunk!  There's a simple reason for the movie's downfall -- they deeply changed King's story.  It worked the way it was written!  Told in Dolores' voice, she moved naturally from past to present.  The addition of her adult daughter was not helpful to the story's flow.

Needful Things was just disastrous!  And I went into it with high hopes.  I had fallen head over heels in love with the novel, buying each segment of the audio tapes with my 18th birthday money.  (They released it in three parts to make purchasing more bearable!)  I loved it all!  The women killing each other in the middle of the street; Radar; Polly and her arthritis; the Sheriff and his shadow puppets; Buster and his race horses; the boy who takes his own life; the woman in love with Elvis -- all of that was wonderful!

The real engine in the book was the Sheriff's past.  What happened to his wife?  The novel becomes his own war with the devil.  I had no idea King was writing about the 1980's and our desire to buy everything!  To me, it was just a big, awesome brilliant novel.

But the movie lost most of that.  Needful Things the movie started well, but failed to maintain the intensity that King's novel did.  Instead of ending with a fight with the devil, it concludes with a sermon.  This one needs a little room to breath.  I don't know why it was never optioned as a mini-series, but I think it would work nicely.  The plot drives it hard, even when King spends time focusing on characters.

Oh, how about Dreamcatcher ?  Again, loved the beginning -- but I always lose interest in the movie midway through.  Desperation falls in the same boat for me.  It started good, but I just can't stay connected.  I did like the novel, but something doesn't feel right on screen.

The Langoliers was bad from the start.  Awkward acting, bad spacial effects and way too much screen time makes the movie a big yawn.  In fact, it's laughably bad.
Firestarter was a big budget movie, big names and followed the book to the T.  But still, something was very empty in that movie.  I don't know what!  I just know that the film isn't as much fun as it ought to be.

IT deserves a remake.  I look forward to the upcoming movie, because I think that the mini-series dropped the ball in many areas.  Special effects were bad.  The only adult that really carried the movie was Tim Curry.  The kids were great, I mean absolutely fantastic.  But all of the adult scenes were embarrassing!

Oh, this one is good. . . The Running Man!  Now that was an awesome book!  It was not an awesome movie.  In fact, other than the title and the game show, I'm not really sure what the movie had in common with the book.

Some King films weren't good, but there's no point in remaking them because the source material never really warranted a feature film!  Take for instance, Silver Bullet.  It started out as a calender, turned into a novella.  It's a fun read, and I even like the movie a bit, but I do wonder if the book had been written by anyone else, would it have become a movie?  Same with The Lawnmower Man -- though that can of worms oughta be left unopened! 

There are some King movies that had no source material, since they were made for the screen.  While Storm Of The Century was a home run, I'm speechless at Sleepwalkers.  Just speechless.  Can only say, "Please, no remakes!"

Now, some movies I just wish they would remake parts of them.  The end of the Mist for instance!  Some fans loved it.  I know from his review that Lilja thought it was great, and King gave it his blessing.  But it leaves my heart throbbing every time I watch that thing.

Remake we really don't need: Carrie, The Stand (but I'll be the first in line) and Pet Sematary.  As the old man said, if it ain't broke. . .

I think when the movie adaptation is really good, it changes how you read the book!  You fall more in love with the book having seen it on film.  When a movie doesn't work, you think, "At least I still have the book."

Boston Globe: Review Of 11.22.63

Photo Credit:Anthony Russo
Boston Globe 

Boston Globe's Ethan Gilsdorf has an interesting review of 11.22.63.  I also like the drawings by Anthony Russo. 

Gilsdorf starts with a bang, saying, "Time travel is tricky. Problem number one: You probably don’t have a time machine parked in your garage."  Of course, rabbit holes are helpful.  He gives King credit for doing his "homework." 

I really like this line: "The Texas School Book Depository, where Oswald erects his sniper perch, emanates red-hot historical radiation."

The full review is HERE

King Film Adaptations That Oughta Be, 2

Here is my list of King adaptations that need to be made.  As Jamison did in his article, I will limit myself to 5.

1. The Talisman.  Big, sweeping, why is this book so overlooked?  If producers want to create an appetite for The Dark Tower, they should start with this smaller project to build public confidence and interest.

2. Cell.  Zombies are in, cell phones are in. . . so why isn't this movie already on DVD?

3. Eyes Of The Dragon.  A Stephen King family film, think about it!  Castles, kings, massive towers, a prison break, evil wizards; this stuff is awesome movie material!  The novel is short, energetic and would make a great film.  Disney should be pounding down Stephen King's door to get their hands on this project.  And someday is not good enough on this one -- I want t before my kids grow up!

4. From A Buick 8.  Told from multiple points of view, this story is not what you think it is!  Like Eyes of the Dragon, this book is not real long.  Length matters, because only a limited number of scenes can be put on screen.  Cut too many scenes, and readers scream hatchet job.  Include too many scenes, and reviewers say the movie is too long and drags.  But books like Cell, Eyes of the Dragon and From a Buick 8 are all an ideal length.

5. A Good Marriage.  Though I'd like the final revenge scene to be a little more gruesome, I really liked the way King constructed this story.  From the point of view to the carefully laid plan -- this one was good!  I wonder how long it will take before producers pick up a copy of Full Dark No Stars.  I think all of the stories in Full Dark No Stars would be great on screen!

King Film Adaptations That Oughta Be, 1

Tim Jamison has an article on titled "Top 5 Stephen King Film Adaptations That Need To Be Made."  Here's his list, but Jamison also gives some great explanations on why he made these choices, and who should make the movies! 

1. The Long walk.  He notes that Frank Darabont has said he would get to this story "one day" and would make it "on a low budget, weird, existential and very self-contained."

2. The Sun Dog.  I enjoyed this story quite a lot, but think it would work best in a Twilight Zone type format.  30 minutes, build the story and give a final twist.

3. The Man In The Black Suit.  Jamison points out that a short film was already made in 2004, but he is hoping for a feature length film.  Why?  He writes, "There’s plenty of great horror movies about the devil catching up with people – Angel Heart is especially good – but within that familiarity there is great potential for invention. With a director who can expand upon the short story, or show the devil and Gary interacting over a number of years, it could be pretty damn creepy. You could even treat it like a Roald Dahl adaptation, producing something akin to The Witches."

4. The Ballad Of The Flexible Bullet.  Under "who should star in it" Jamison offers us this whitty response: "Anybody except Jack Nicholson, James Caan, Nicolas Cage, Johnny Depp and John Cusack. They’ve all been there and done that." 

5. 11.22.63.  He says that filming is expected to start in 2012.  I'm not sure why this is on a list like this, since I think the deal is already made.

Lisbon Falls And Stephen King

One of the really neat things about 11/22/63 is that it connects real places with fictional characters and places.  One of the very real places is a spot from Stephen King's past -- Lisbon Falls.

The King connection:

Lisbon Falls Maine ME 1950s view of the High School.

According to George Beahm's fantastic book, "Stephen King Country", King commuted to Lisbon High from Durham.  Because the town was not big enough to afford, or require, a full blown school bus to transport the four students to Lisbon High, the town contracted with Mike's Taxi to transport the kids.

Now get this. . . the taxi was a converted hearse!  And one of the kids riding with King was the girl who would later serve as the model for Carrie White.  YIKES!  Pretty cool, when you think about it.  Stephen King rides in a hearse with Carrie White, eh!

Worumbo Mill

Worumbo Mill
The Worumbo Mill was constructed in 1920.  In the novel, the local mill is now an abandoned shoe factory.  The mill is the site of the time portal (I think).

Here is the town website.

Photo: Lisbon Falls 1960's

Here is a photo of Lisbon Falls Maine, circa 1960.  This, of course, is just a little later than the time portal takes Al and Jack to in King's latest novel,11.22.63.  A picture is worth a thosuand words!  It certainly confirms the flavor of what King describes early in the novel.  I found the photo HERE.

King Meets Oswald

Photo: Allison V. Smith

Above is a picture of Stephen King at the 6th floor of the museum where Oswald shot John Kennedy.  This is part of an article for USA today by Carol Memmott titled "Stephen King evokes horros of history in 11.22.63."  She reveals just how personal the subject matter is to Stephen King.  He didn't ust do internet research, he appears to have walked the streets and climbed up in the shooters nest. 

In a sense, King actually met Oswald!  I'll let King do the explaining on that one. . .

"There's a scene early in the book where Al Templeton (the owner of the diner that holds the portal to the past) says to Jake, 'I met him (Oswald), you know," and I can remember writing that line and saying, 'I'm actually going to meet Oswald in my imagination.' I don't think I really have been as excited or turned on or had all my lights go on since (1977's) The Shining."

Very Fine Books Opens: CUJO'S CORNER

Cujo's Corner is open, thanks to Very Fine Books.  So, what's missing from your collection -- because they might just have it!  Need a first edition Dark Tower? -- signed!!!, they have it.  How about the entire Dark Tower set?  Yep, that too.  Need a first edition of Carrie -- yep, they have it.  How about a German bootleg edition of IT? Yes sir, they have it.

A lot of their books (most?) are signed.  If you're looking for signed books, you should definitely buy from someone who deals with Stephen King books on a regular basis.  Places like Very Fine Books is exactly where you want to go -- avoid ebay for signed items!

FAST COMPANY: Review Of Bag Of Bones Prequel Site

Rae Ann Fera has an article at Fast Company discussing Stephen King's "Bag of Bones" creepy back story at

So exactly who is behind Dark Score Stories?  Well, Fera answers that for us:

Created by Campfire, the creative and production team behind The Blair Witch Project and several acclaimed alternate reality campaigns, “Dark Score Stories” employs photos and audio clips to tell the tale of Dark Score Lake, an unassuming little town in the unincorporated Maine township of TR-90. But this being Stephen King and all, things are not quite what they seem.

She also says that "award-winning Danish photojournalist Joachim Ladefoged created the lush photos."

Of course, the website gives the back story to Bag Of Bones.  It is a 1 year time warp, carefully setting the stage for what is to come.

Photo From New Orleans Reading

This is a photo of Saturday's reading in New Orleans.  Sincere thanks to my friend for the picture.

Yates Explains Departure From THE STAND

In an interview with, David Yates discussed a myriad of topics with Steve Weintraub.  One of the subjects at hand was his withdrawal from the movie adaptation of The Stand. 

Yates told Weintraub that he has loved The Stand since he was a kid.  So what happened?  He says that his issues were "with the adaptation."

Yates explains:

“What I love about King’s work and what I love about The Stand is the fact that Stephen King really puts you into these people’s lives, and you see the world from a very intimate human level, which normally is something I love. But we felt this pressure to make these super tentpole movies with this material, and the things that you get in Potter—which are these extraordinary episodes of action—they didn’t exist in the material, and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to deliver the kind of movie that ultimately the studio was hoping to get from this material. I could see making a miniseries from it, a really interesting, intricate, layered, enjoyable long-burn of a miniseries, I could see that, but what was missing for me were the big movie moments in the material, the big set pieces.”

The full interview is HERE.

King appearing on Book TV

Book TV will be airing the Mason Award presentation made to Stephen King.  Book TV's website says:

Author Stephen King is this year's Mason Award recipient. The award, presented annually at the Fall for the Book festival hosted by George Mason University and the City of Fairfax (Virginia), honors authors who have made "extraordinary contributions to bringing literature to a wide reading public." Past recipients include Chinua Achebe, Sherman Alexie, and Greg Mortenson. Mr. King delivers a lecture before the award presentation.

  • Saturday, November 19th at 11pm (ET)
  • Sunday, November 27th at 3:45am (ET)

King Visits New Orleans To Promote 11.22.63

Kathleen K Parker, at New Orleans City Guide Examiner has an article about King's recent New Orleans book reading to promote 11.22.63. 

She says that he spoke to an audience of about 2,000. 

Parker says that King discussed how some his work has scared even him!  In fact some scared him so much that he had to stop for a while.  Parker writes, "One of those was The Shining, for which there will be a sequel. When writing Pet Sematary, he used a personal experience as the basis of the story."

The full article is HERE.

THREE Reviews Of 11.22.63

Reviews of 11.22.63 continue to be very positive, from both fans and professionals.  To tell you the truth, I enjoy the fan reviews most.  I have not yet spotted a negative review of thsi novel.  Of course, I haven't been looking very hard! 

Here are three reviews worth noting:

1. The Globe Mail's Robert Wiersema calls the novel "whopping" and "stunning."  This review gives away a lot of information.  Wiersema writes, "Rather, this is an intensely character-based novel, full of small moments and details, surrounding larger philosophical questions."  He promises the book will "thrill" long time fans. 
Wierseman makes these interesting connections between 11.22.63 and King's larger body of work:
"George's (George is Jake) first stop in the past is Derry, Maine, in the fall of 1958, after the summer of murders documented in It (the scene where George meets Richie Tozier and Beverly Marsh made the hair on my arms stand up) or that the novel as a whole is invertedly reminiscent of The Dead Zone, in which John Smith spent a novel building up to assassinating a presidential candidate. It’s also the little things, echoes of King’s books threading unobtrusively through the heaves and struggles of the past. For example, George is haunted by a car, a red-and-white Plymouth Fury, the same colour and model as Christine."
2. King joked on TODAY that he should buy Janet Maslin a Porsche for this review of his novel!  She notes that "he constructs an alternate reality in which the Kennedy presidency is not interrupted. It is not what his readers are liable to expect."  And she concludes with this energetic endorsement:
"The pages of “11/22/63” fly by, filled with immediacy, pathos and suspense. It takes great brazenness to go anywhere near this subject matter. But it takes great skill to make this story even remotely credible. Mr. King makes it all look easy, which is surely his book’s fanciest trick."
3.  Jérémy Guérineau at Club Stephen King has a nice review of 11.22.63 as well.  I enjoyed this review quite a lot, actually.  Guérineau  calls it one of King's most ambitious novels.  He also points out that
King "has performed a tremendous feat in portraying the America of the late 50s-early 60s, in rendering local accents (Maine and Texas)... and the lyrical and highly musical atmosphere of the time (the swinging 50s)."

Picky Collecting

"Picky Picky" was the cat in Beverly Cleary's Ramona series.  It could be my name the more I collect Stephen King.  Once upon a time, I collected everything King.  I started with paperbacks as a teen, then moved on to trying to collect all the hardcovers -- then hardcover first editions.  I did it, too -- with a few notable exceptions (Carrie, Salem's Lot, The Shining, Dark Tower 1 and some others). 

The problem is, bookshelves are unforgiving for collectors!  There isn't space to store it all.  I have Laser Disks of Carrie and Creepshow -- but I'm not sure why I have them!  Full dark No Stars that I would not buy the first edition hardcover.  There are a billion copies, so it held little value as a collectible.  Instead I hose to buy the Cemetery Danse edition, which is beautiful!  Cemetery Danse books are always well done!

I had made a similar decision with Under The Dome.  I was unable to buy the signed edition, so I purchased the special edition -- same thing but not signed.  Turned out, there really wasn't much too it!  Then, Simon and Schuster put out word that some of their big buyers for the signed editions dropped the ball and they had a few huge lots up for sale.  I got a signed copy -- my one and only signed copy of a King book!

I have not yet purchased a copy of 11/22/63.  Oh, wait. . . we have it on Kindle, and audible -- but no hard copy.  I'm in the lottery to get the wonderful opportunity to buy a signed copy.  If that doesn't pan out, I'm going to wait for the paperback.  Why?  Because a book with that many copies on the market isn't really all that special. 

So what's worth collecting at this point?  What will I still give shelf space to?
  • Bachman books.  (Originals)  Fun to collect because they were King at work under the radar.  Also, there are not as many copies out there, so getting one feels like more of a "find." 
  • Dark Tower firsts.  Still waiting for Dark Tower 1 to show up somewhere. . .
  • Signed books.  I don't know why this matters to anyone, but for some reason we all like the thing to be signed.  Does his scribbling on a copy make it more valuable?  Well, it does!  But does it change anything -- really?  The book is the same book, except that once it is signed I don't allow anyone to read it!  Thus nullifying is purpose as a book.  I'm not sure I understand this, thus the reason I only own one signed copy. 
  • Cemetery Danse and special publisher editions.  Ahhh, what I would do for a copy of From A Buick 8 Cemetery Danse edition.  Grant has also published a few special edition volumes worth noting, like Desperation.
  • Old magazines that have King stories.  I have almost all of the first appearances of the Dark Tower in F&SF magazine.  I really like the old magazines, because they give you a flavor of the times the stories first appeared in.
  • Older books -- first editions.
  • The red leather editions still interest me.
Interestingly, some of the things I treasure actually can't be bought!  A scrapbook by a super-collector is precious to me.  Also, a box full of odds and ends and can't really be explained, but it's fun to dig through. 

Here's what I've about given up on:
  • Needing a copy of everything!
  • Anything not first edition.
  • Books without covers.  (I didn't used to care).
  • Paperbacks -- unless they are special.
  • Most foreign copies.  a few are fun, and the British editions usually get better covers, but no point in rebuilding my library with books I already have.  (That actually might be my wife speaking through me!)
  • Books with King introductions. 
  • Posters.  Had a guy at a poster shop tell me excitedly that he had an original movie poster of "The Shining."  I just found myself wondering if there was wall space in the kids playroom.
  • Reprints that look like the first edition, but are not. 
  • Signatures alone.  Why do people pay for just the signature, like on a piece of paper.  Or a hand scrawled quick note.  I don't understand!  Really, people, enlighten me.  The note is not his art, his art is in the book!  So if he sits at a book store and writes a note that says, "I'm the spooky do man", someone will find great worth in that.  Why?  Does this pass some vital information from him to us?  I can do the same thing!

Rose Madder Movie

Palomar Pictures has plans to film Stephen King's rose Madder.  Variety contributor Dave Mcnary writes, "Rose Madder," based on King's 1995 fantasy novel, has been adapted by Naomi Sheridan ("In America"). That story's based on a woman who's on the run from her abusive husband and is able to travel into a painting."  (full article HERE)

James Wallace at notes that somehow Rose Madder has gone quite a long time without mention of any screen treatment.  He writes,
"I'm not sure the book is ripe for the picking when it comes to big screen adaptations, which is likely why it's gone untouched for 16 years and is being brought to us by smaller production companies but I guess it's too early to judge and time will tell. Fun fact though: like many of King's stories, Rose Madder has connections to the author's other works, most significantly The Dark Tower series. The question is whether or not this adaptation is just as desired as that one."
Is he right?  Well, I don't know.  Rose Madder came out while I was in college, and far too busy reading stacks of books assigned to worry myself with Mr. Stephen King.  When I finally came back to King's work, I think I must have told myself, "Rose Madder?  What's that about?  Oh well, I'll wait for the movie."

King was an experimental period when Madder was written.  A heavy focus on female leads, as well as abuse highlighted this period.  Dolores Claiborne and Gerald's Game round out this period.  I think Claiborne is one of King's strongest works, and am very disappointed the movie wasn't better. 

Dark Score Stories: Prequel To BAG OF BONES

So what exactly is "Dark Score Stories"?  We know its a promotional site for Bag of Bones, but there seems to be more involved here.  According to Hollywood Reporter, it's an online prequel to the Bag of Bones miniseries.

Philiana Ng states:
Dark Score Stories will serve as an interactive launchpad for the mini, starring Pierce Brosnan, Melissa George and Annabeth Gish. The online destination will delve deeper into the setting and characters of Bag of Bones through interviews, oral histories and black-and-white photographs.
Each vignette will offer a glimpse into daily life at Dark Score Lake, which is where Bag of Bones is set, and is introduced with an animated still. Visitors to the website will uncover secrets hidden in to each of the images.

Might Bachman Strike Again?

Kevin Quigley at Charnel House has this interesting post:
In a recent interview with, King admitted to at least considering writing a new Richard Bachman novel:
..."I would like to write a Bachman novel that had some of that Charles Willeford feel. The dark side of American life ... I would like to start a book about a crazy private eye, a guy who is really on the dark side. I see the scene: this guy sitting in his office in an unnamed American city, the sky grey, the rain grey and hitting the window. That is it ... But I know the rest of it would follow pretty nicely with that hard-boiled voice like Raymond Chandler. Think of Philip Marlowe, only a total fucking degenerate.”
Quigley notes: "For those of you who thought Bachman's posthumous novels had dried up with Blaze, worry not! It looks like the old dairy farmer still has some afterlife in him yet."


In Sons of Anarchy, King's character was named Bachman.

Bag Of Bones Embraces SK Universe!

The Bag Of Bones website is AWESOME!  (HERE).  Lots of pictures, audio commentary and more. 

But as you flip through those pictures, take a good look at the book shelves.  You'll spot some well known authors in the Stephen King universe. 
  • "Ten Nights In Ten Haunted Houses" Mike Enslin
  • "Misery's Love" Paul Sheldon
  • "Misey's Child" Paul Sheldon
  • "The Organ Grinders Boy" Morton Rainey
  • "Relic's" Scott Landon
  • "Darcy's Admirer" Noonan
There is a Regulators movie poster.  And, our friend Lilja appears on a poster as well (Lilja's Library, Aug 5, 2pm)!  Seems that Mike Noonan is signing books AT Lilja's Library.  Totally cool! 

A man has a hat "Beaumont University."  And then there is the yummy picture of pie -- Gypsy Pie.  Eat up, yummy yummy.

It's exciting to see this full, hearty enthusiasm for the world of Stephen King.  It gives me all the more hope that Garris has once again been true to the Stephen King source material; and more than that, he has given us a world touched at every layer by Stephen King.

Post #1,000: MSN Looks At Classic King

This is post #1,000.  What does that mean?  Only that this is post one thousand.

MSN has an interesting article titled "Stephen King's horror classics and lesser-known favorites" by Scott Stump.  I LIKE IT!

According to Stump, King has sold  350 millions copies of his books.  I wonder if that takes into consideration that some of us own a thousand copies of The Stand.

Stump's article is essentially a set of lists.  Here are a few:

Classic King: The Stand, The Shining, Carrie, The Dark Tower and IT.

Also is a list of "Top" Stephen King Movie Adaptations, which includes: “Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption’’,  “The Green Mile’’ , and “The Body."  Stump obviously takes a liking to the non-horror movies, but I have to wonder, what about "The Mist" , "Carrie" and "Cujo"?

Dare I point this out. . . Stump gives us this hallmark of sentence structure, "Some of Kings scarier horror works from early in his career because memorably schlocky ‘80s movies that live on to this day."  HUH?  Okay MSN. . . 

The gist is that some of King's movies are most defiantly marked by the 80's.  About the Runningman, Stump says "The outfits are cringeworthy and the one-liners from Schwarzenegger come regularly."  YES!

Finally we are given a short list of books by King that have been banned.  So, it's kind of a hyper-active tour of the Stephen King world. 

Bag Of Bones On Facebook

The facebook page for Bag Of Bones has posted several new pictures.  I am really excited about this mini-series, it seems A&E has gone all out.  Check it out HERE.

TODAY SHOW: Rave Reviews For 11/22/63

There was a great 2 part interview this morning with Stephen King.  Both segment noted how positive the reviews have been.  King has always hit home runs with the fans -- but his reviews are sometimes mixed.  However, 11/22/63 seems to be finding a soft spot in the hearts of the mainstream press. 

The first segment points out that Janet Maslin The New York Times says "Mr. King pulls off a sustained high wire act of story telling trickery.  He makes alliterative history work."  King joked that maybe he should buy Janet Maslin a Porsche!  (Maslin's review is HERE)

King discusses asking Doris Goodwin what would happen if JFK had lived.  Of course, what they really want to know is why King jumped ship, so to say, and did a book quite unlike his other work.  "You're known for your scary creepy stuff you do.  what made you step out of your comfort zone?"  King says, "When you step outside your comfort zone, you have to stand up and really put in an effort."  He notes that it took about 2 years to write this book.

You can sense King's passion for this book.  Also his love for this era (the 50's and 60's).  He liked
Chuck berry and Little Richard.

King intertwines the story with real people.  so there are fictional characters interacting with historical.  Sounds great!

King emphasizes that he has no bone to pick with those who want to hold to conspiracy theories.

Brian K. Vaughan Heads In To The Dome!

DEADLINE reports that Under The Dome has found a script writer -- Brian K. Vaughan.  Under The Dome will be a Showtime series from Dream Works Television.  Brian Vaughan has previously written for LOST.

Vaughan was the 2005 recipient of the Eisner Award for Best Writer. He also received "Comics Best Writer" award in 2006 from Wizard magazine.

Now, put this together:

Stephen King Story  
+  Produced by Dream Works 
+  Showtiome
-   Network censorship
+  Experienced "Lost" writer
        =  AWESOME!

Marvel's Brian K. Vaughan page HERE

Lilja's Review Of 11/22/63

My favorite King reviews always come from Lilja's Library.  He gives a lot of information, without giving up too much.  More than that, he makes me want to read the book. 

Lilja's review of 11/22/63 is HERE.

A couple of quotes -- because I can't resist!  The veteran King reviewer says that "11/22/63 hooked me from the first page and didn't let me go until I'd finished it."  He declares the characters "believable" and the alternate history "so credible that it feels as if all the events actually happened."

When the publisher puts the promo quotes on the back of the paperback (or front) -- they ought to use Lilja's !  But alas, they won't.  They'll quote from the New York Times or from someone who won't know King and his work nearly as well. 

Okay, go read the full review.  So this post is. . . reviewing the review. 


All constant readers know the importance of the sixties to Stephen King's work.  This heavy emphasis in his novels is a reflection of the impact the decade made on King personally.

I was born in 1973.  So I have fond memories of. . . the late 70's and 80's !  I have never thought well of the 60's.  That was my parents generation, and in general I think it was a pretty messed up era.  My perception is that some pretty bad stuff come out of the 60's.  The 60's gave us: Vietnam, Hippies and intense racial strife. 

But the 60's were much more than that.  It was an era when our nation was coming of age.  Several King novels deal with the 60's.  By setting alone, King is able to give history lessons that would make my high school teachers drool. 

The sixties also gave us the Twilight Zone, John Kennedy, The Jetsons, Cool Elvis and a host of other things.

1963, the year King's next novel focuses on, was the year
  • Hitchcock gave us The Birds.
  • Lassie was popular on television, as was Andy Griffith and the Dick Van Dyke Show.  Hold on, that's not all -- mom and pop were also busy watching My Favorite Martian. 
  • Gas cost 29 cents per gallon.  A loaf of bread was 22 cents.
  • The average cost of a new car was $3,233.
  • Audio cassettes hit the market. 
  • A brand spankin new house would cost you $12,650.
  • Average income per year was $5,807 per year.  (So don't get too excited bout those house prices, eh!)  Minimum wage was $1.25.  A stamp cost 0.05.
  • AT&T introduced touch tone phones.  Of course, it would take a while for them to catch on!  I still have a rotary cell phone. . .
  • Zip codes were implemented.  HOLD ON!  We didn't have zip codes until 1963?  Seriously?!
  • James Meredith was the first black to graduated from the university of Mississippi in 1963.
  • 1963 also gave us -- are you ready for this -- THE LAVA LAMP!
  • Pull tabs for soda were introduced.
  • The Beatles gave us "I want to hold your hand." 
  • To Kill a Mocking Bird was released in theaters, as was Cleopatra and Lawrence of Arabia.
  • Martin Luther King gave his "I Have A Dream" speech in 1963.
  • Pope John the 23 died. 
  • Alcatraz closed.
  • The Ku Klux Klan dynamited a Baptist Church in Birmingham in Alabama, resulting in the deaths of 4 young girls.

Pet Sematary Remake Still In The Works

The Hollywood Reporter has a short article stating that Lorenzo di Bonaventura has signed a three year deal to remain at Paramount -- where he's been for the last 10 years.  He has helmed G.I. Joe and was one of several producers for Transformers, Dark of the Moon. 

So what will Bonaventura be working on?  THR says one of his projects will be "a remake of Stephen King's Pet Sematary."  That, and G.I. Joe 2: Retaliation.

Fan Appreciation Day just gave word that there will be a "fan appreciation giveaway."  Awesome!  Here is their announcement:

11/22/63 Fan Appreciation Giveaway Coming November 8th
To celebrate the release of 11/22/63, is proud to announce that we will be holding a Fan Appreciation Giveaway. Entries will be accepted from 6:00 AM ET through 11:59 PM ET on November 8th. (See Complete Rules for details)

Fans within the United States will be able to submit their entries using this form during the hours listed above. We will randomly select 100 people to receive a free mass market hardcover edition of 11/22/63.

Penned To Death

On The Red Carpet reveals that J.K. Rowling almost knocked off the red headed best friend of Harry Potter, Ron Weasley.  Why?  Out of sheer spite, she says!  She was in a "bad place" in her life, and I guess killing a character was one way she considered easing the stress.

Stephen King has been known to kill more than a few major characters.  But his reasoning is a bit different.  I can't think of a time King ever revealed he killed off a character (or even thought about it) because he was in a foul mood.

Why a writer chooses to kill off a character may not matter much -- unless you're actually a character in the novel!  Check out Stranger Than Fiction.  The author is in an incredible position with the power to let characters live or die.  But WHY?  What causes writers to snuff out some of our favorite characters?

King once said that he had fully planned to ink out Paul Sheldon in Misery.  But, Sheldon proved to be stronger than he expected.  He couldn't do it!  The deaths of several main characters in The Stand occur for quite a different reason.  King says he was out on a walk when he realized that his problem was that the novel had become overcrowded. 

So here's Sheldon lives on because he's "stronger than expected" . . . but a few favorites in The Stand are pushing up daisies because of overcrowding!  Then there are those characters who, but they just keep coming back.  Jake Chambers comes to mind, and Flagg. 

King once said that he planned to kill the whole crew in The Shining.  He didn't, and like Sheldon, Danny seems to have proved stronger than the writer expected.  Thus Danny can shine on.

Sometimes a character dies in the novel, but lives on in the movies, such as occurs in Cujo.  Did you know the Jenny lived on in Forrest Gump?  Yep, Groom said that he didn't like the change.  In fact, Groom stubbornly chose to stick with the continuity of the book version when writing Gump and Co.  Or, in reverse, characters die in the movie who live on in the book.  Case in point, The Mist!

Often a story revolves around a characters death; they didn't have a chance to begin with!  Dickens' opened Christmas Carol with the strong statement "Marley was dead."  Gage's death is the center of Pet Sematary.

What's maddening is when a writer kills a character off simply because they want to pursue a new storyline.  Case in point, Dickens' has poor ole David Copperfieldn's wife die just in time for him to meet up with his true love. 

Sometimes a writer uses their ability to kill characters off as something of a powerplay on the reader.  We are at their mercy as much as the characters are!  What do we do when we want to object, call foul?  Well, there's nothing we can do!  We can't bring characters back to life (ask Annie Wilkes!).  Has King ever killed characters off just for sheer power?  Well, something not so nice is up in those Bachman books!  Case in point, read the end of Thinner. 

So, has a writer ever surprised you with a death?  He's a few shocks I got:
1. Needful Things has a death I totally didn't expect, but I don't want to give away too much. 
2. Ken Follett killed Tom Builder.
3. The Dark Tower 7.  Again, no details.
4. I didn't expect Christine to be a blood bath.
5. A Separate Peace has a death that caught me by surprise as a teen.
6. Sherlock Holmes.  Yep, he died.  No, I didn't see it coming (come on, I was a kid when I read it for the first time).  Yes, he came back. 
7. Dreamcatcher. . . dare I mention the scene?  You know the one -- on the potty.
8. Of Mice And Men.  You have to read the novel.  I didn't see it coming.
9. Les Miserable.  It ends with a death that shocked me.
10. The Dead Zone surprised me.
11. The War Of The Worlds, the martians!

And then there was J.R. on Dallas . . . and Spock