JOYLAND: A Hard Case Crime Book

Here is the press release for Joyland from Hard Case Crime.


JOYLAND to be published in June 2013

New York, NY; London, UK (May 30, 2012)—Hard Case Crime, the award-winning line of pulp-styled crime novels published by Titan Books, today announced it will publish JOYLAND, a new novel by Stephen King, in June 2013. Set in a small-town North Carolina amusement park in 1973, JOYLAND tells the story of the summer in which college student Devin Jones comes to work as a carny and confronts the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and the ways both will change his life forever. JOYLAND is a brand-new book and has never previously been published. One of the most beloved storytellers of all time, Stephen King is the world’s best-selling novelist, with more than 300 million books in print.

Called "the best new American publisher to appear in the last decade" by Neal Pollack in The Stranger, Hard Case Crime revives the storytelling and visual style of the pulp paperbacks of the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. The line features an exciting mix of lost pulp masterpieces from some of the most acclaimed crime writers of all time and gripping new novels from the next generation of great hardboiled authors, all with new painted covers in the grand pulp style. Authors range from modern-day bestsellers such as Pete Hamill, Donald E. Westlake, Lawrence Block and Ed McBain to Golden Age stars like Mickey Spillane (creator of "Mike Hammer"), Erle Stanley Gardner (creator of "Perry Mason"), Wade Miller (author of Touch of Evil), and Cornell Woolrich (author of Rear Window).

Stephen King commented, "I love crime, I love mysteries, and I love ghosts. That combo made Hard Case Crime the perfect venue for this book, which is one of my favorites. I also loved the paperbacks I grew up with as a kid, and for that reason, we’re going to hold off on e-publishing this one for the time being. Joyland will be coming out in paperback, and folks who want to read it will have to buy the actual book."

King’s previous Hard Case Crime novel, The Colorado Kid, became a national bestseller and inspired the television series "Haven," now going into its third season on SyFy.

"Joyland is a breathtaking, beautiful, heartbreaking book," said Charles Ardai, Edgar- and Shamus Award-winning editor of Hard Case Crime. "It’s a whodunit, it’s a carny novel, it’s a story about growing up and growing old, and about those who don’t get to do either because death comes for them before their time. Even the most hardboiled readers will find themselves moved. When I finished it, I sent a note saying, ‘Goddamn it, Steve, you made me cry.’ "

Nick Landau, Titan Publisher, added: "Stephen King is one of the fiction greats, and I am tremendously proud and excited to be publishing a brand-new book of his under the Hard Case Crime imprint."

JOYLAND will feature new painted cover art by the legendary Robert McGinnis, the artist behind the posters for the original Sean Connery James Bond movies and "Breakfast At Tiffany’s," and by Glen Orbik, the painter of more than a dozen of Hard Case Crime’s most popular covers, including the cover for The Colorado Kid.

Since its debut in 2004, Hard Case Crime has been the subject of enthusiastic coverage by a wide range of publications including The New York Times, USA Today, Time, Playboy, U.S. News & World Report, BusinessWeek, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Houston Chronicle, New York magazine, the New York Post and Daily News, Salon, Reader’s Digest, Parade and USA Weekend, as well as numerous other magazines, newspapers, and online media outlets. The Chicago Sun-Times wrote, "Hard Case Crime is doing a wonderful job publishing both classic and contemporary ‘pulp’ novels in a crisp new format with beautiful, period-style covers. These modern ‘penny dreadfuls’ are worth every dime." Playboy praised Hard Case Crime’s "lost masterpieces," writing "They put to shame the work of modern mystery writers whose plots rely on cell phones and terrorists." And the Philadelphia City Paper wrote, "Tired of overblown, doorstop-sized thrillers...? You’ve come to the right place. Hard Case novels are as spare and as honest as a sock in the jaw."

5 Things You Didn't Know About Pyscho

June 16th marks the 52nd Anniversary of Alfred Hitchcock’s iconic thriller Psycho, and the team over at Open Road Media is excited to celebrate! Stephen Rebello, author of Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho (a true account of the making of America’s most notorious scary movie), offered five things we never could have known about its creation.

Click here for more information about Rebello and his work! Hold on, gang. . . I GOT MORE!  Just for fun, here’s a link to an excerpt from the first chapter of Rebello’s Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho. (HERE)

Okay, I'll warn y'all: it’s not proper reading for the weak of heart or stomach. It’s a look at the real-life serial killer- a man who was actually psychotic- who inspired Hitchcock to create Norman Bates.

This is posted with permission.

Five Things You Didn't Know About the Making of Pyscho

by Stephen Rebello

Under contract with Paramount Pictures, director Alfred Hitchcock had made box office hits like Rear Window, To Catch a Thief, and The Man Who Knew Too Much.  But when he pitched his idea for Psycho, the studio's executives were so shocked and repulsed that they denied him his usual generous budget and the use of their sound stages, cameras, and other production equipment. Instead, Hitchcock financed the film himself and shot Psycho at Universal, using his television crew. Paramount then released the film and won their biggest box office profits of the year.

1. Before Psycho, Hitchcock was famed for elegant Technicolor thrillers starring marquee actors such as Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, and James Stewart. With Psycho, Hitchcock tried something completely different. He shot the film in black–and–white and broke with convention by violently killing the film’s biggest star on screen early in the movie.  He also depicted the lead actress in what was then considered an unusually frank sexual relationship, showed and flushed a toilet on-screen for the first time in American movies, and dressed the lead actor in women's clothing in a chilling role.

2. Although Janet Leigh most of the infamous shower sequence, Hitchcock hired Playboy cover model, exotic dancer, and sometimes actress Marli Renfro as Leigh’s body double. Both he and Leigh were shy about the near-nudity, and Hitchcock created extremely specific story-boards for filming the sequence, so that he wouldn’t overexpose his star.

3. Hitchcock decided against using Anthony Perkins in the shower scene, both to avoid tipping off the audience to the killer’s identity and to spare the actor potential embarrassment. Instead, he gave Perkins time off to rehearse for his upcoming Broadway musical.

4. During filming and post production, Hitchcock became convinced that Psycho would be such an embarrassing flop that he considered cutting out the most daring and shocking scenes and dialogue, so that it could be played off as a one--hour Hitchcock TV show. The addition of Bernard Herrmann's brilliantly innovative score was a deciding factor in releasing the movie to theaters.

5. Since Hitchcock believed that the twist ending of Psycho was its biggest asset, he tried to buy up as many copies of the original Robert Bloch novel as possible, so that the public wouldn’t already know the plot. He also devised a promotional campaign that insisted no one would be allowed to enter the theater once the film had started, and also asked audiences not to reveal the finale.

BONUS: Although Hitchcock’s special effects team devised a rubber female torso that spurted fake blood, the director rejected the prosthetic as crude and unsubtle.
Stephen Rebello is the author of Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, and a screenwriter of a motion picture adaptation of his book. The upcoming film for Fox Searchlight Pictures stars Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, ScarleD Johannson, James D'Arcy, Jessica Biel, Toni ColleDe, Danny Huston, Michael Stuhlbarg, Ralph Macchio, and Michael Wincott.

THINNER headed to Blue-ray

Stephen King's THINNER will be released on Blue-ray August 21.  No special features have been announced.  (Source: Dread Central) It is currently selling at Amazon for $13.50.

Dread Central's Uncle Creepy writes:
We don't know where Olive Films came from, but we do know we are happy they are here. The company has been releasing a battery of older and classic horror films on Blu-ray, and next on their list is the Tom Holland directed Stephen King classic Thinner!

King Donates To 11 Year Old's Cancer Fundraising

Ardeana Hamlin at Bangor Daily News has an interesting article about eleven year old Tommy Hosmer, who is raising money to fight cancer.  One of the things Tommy has done to fund raise is sold books.  The article indicates that Stephen King donated a signed book to help with the efforts.

Here’s the portion of the article about King:
Tommy’s first opportunity to help people with cancer came in 2010 in the form of 4,000 books a neighbor gave him to sell to raise money for a trip to Disney World the family was planning. Tommy told his parents he would rather donate the money from the sale of the books to EMMC’s CancerCare of Maine. With guidance from his parents, Tommy planned the book and bake sale, which featured a raffle for a book autographed and donated by Stephen King, and a bottle drive. He raised $3,000.
The full article is HERE.

Garris "It's Like We're Best Friends"

Mick Garris discussed his friendship with Stephen King in an interview with TG Daily.

About King, Garris said:
"We have very similar backgrounds. We both came out of working class backgrounds, him on the East, me on the West. We had a lot of the same cultural references growing up, broken homes that led us to become readers and watchers. We just really get along. Even though there will be years going by where we don't see one another, but when we do, it's like we're best friends again."
Though I'm not a "fan" of the Garris films, I enjoy them.  I respect the fact that he is faithful to King's story, and also respect the fact that King likes what Garris does with his work.

It is interesting that the article mentions only the mini-series Garris did that were based on King's work -- not Sleepwalkers.  I wonder why. . .

David Konow notes  this about Garris' upcoming film, Invasion:
 If Invasion is indeed a look back at classic sci—fi of yesteryear, it would indeed be very cool. Both Garris and King grew up with sci-fi and horror back in the early glory days of both genres, and bringing it together with the modern retro sensibilities of Mad Men could be very interesting indeed.

The full article is HERE.

Should We Celebrate Memorial Day ?

I was stunned by Sarah Smiley’s article in Bangor Daily News, in which she reflected that it is inappropriate to be having celebrations on Memorial day – sales, parties and so on – because Memorial day is a day to honor the dead.  Instead she feels Americans should celebrate Armed Forces Day with more vigor.  

Smiley recounts taking her children at Hope Cemetery.  This is a King connection, as Smiley explains:
“We met at Mt. Hope Cemetery in Bangor, which at 178 years old is the second-oldest garden cemetery in America. (It’s also where Stephen King’s “Pet Cemetery” was filmed, but I couldn’t tell the kids that. They were already nervous enough.)”
To really get the meat of Smiley’s argument against partying on Memorial day, we need read no further than her opening statement:
It has always bothered me that we “celebrate” Memorial Day and nearly forget Armed Forces Day. Memorial Day, as the name suggests, is a time to remember. Armed Forces Day, which for the past 60 years has honored Americans serving in the military, is more suited for celebration. You see, the honorees for Armed Forces Day aren’t dead. It’s the difference between a birthday and a funeral.
Now here’s the problem: We have so many holidays, we forget which one’s which!  But we at least get the gist of memorial day.  It is a day to be thankful for the sacrifice of our troops – for me that includes living and dead.  But, if we were only remembering and honoring the dead, as Smiley wants to insist is the ONLY legitimate way to honor the holiday, can I ask: Would it be bad to honor the dead by celebrating the freedom they defended?  Of course not!  We do not dishonor the dead by celebrating that which they fought for.

Or, put another way: Celebrations aren't a mark of dishonor.  That we celebrate is not a sign that we've forgotten the sacrifice; it is a testimony that we remember.

Smiley lays out a very beautiful trip to the cemetery with her children.  No complaints from me on that one.  In fact, I think it is emotionally and spiritually healthy for children to learn about death and sacrifice.  In fact – the redemption of the world was accomplished by sacrifice.  But, consider: Christianity honors the death of Christ in the Passover. . . which is a party!  Think of it as the Memorial Day of the faith.  Echoes of this tremble throughout the Christian year as we take communion, celebrating and remembering the work of Christ on the cross.  

Could the problem be that we American’s have – hold on – too many holidays? !  Before you object, just think it over.  Anyone remember when we got BOTH Lincoln and Washington’s birthday’s off?  Arbor Day.  Labor Day.  Veterans Day.  Christmas.  Kwanzaa.  Halloween.  New Years.  Super Bowl (you know it’s a holiday).  Ground hog day.  Earth day. Valentines day.  Flag day.  Columbus day.  Thanksgiving.  Pearl Harbor day. . . . ahhhhhhhhhhhhh . . . and so yes Ms. Smiley -- we kinda sorta combine some of these.  Oops, we are not only thankful for the dead troops, but the living.  Thankful not only for the wives who have buried husbands, but the ones currently enduring a long deployment.  

Smiley complaining that we honor living troops while also honoring dead servicemen is like whining that you flew the flag on the fourth of July when it should be flown on flag day.  

Okay, her article is very nice and touching.  That said – I choose to celebrate on Memorial day.

Smiley’s full article is HERE.

with the spirit of her article in mind, I offer this:

More Carrie Casting News

Bloody Disgusting has posted news that Gabriella Wilde has been officially tapped to play “Sue”, while Judy Greer (The Village, Cursed) in talks to play the “Gym Teacher”.  More HERE

Dread Central: Ivana Baquero reading for Sue Snell

This is from Dread Central, HERE.  It is Ivana Baquero reading for the part of Sue Snell.  Baquero stars in Pan's Labyrinth.  She didn't get cast as Snell, but might yet get the role of Chris.

Rock Bottom Remainders Simpsons

photo credit HERE

Thanks to the person who shared this link with me.  You know you've hot stuff culturally when the Simpsons make fun of you.

Last Gig For Rock Bottom Remainders

Rock Bottom Remainders
Photo credit: Horsey      

Kristen Lowman at has an article titled, "Rock Bottom Remainders to play final gig at the El Rey June 22nd."

Stephen King plays rhythm guitar for the Rock Bottom Remainders.  The Remainders are coming together for  one last, two city "Past Our Bedtime Tour."

Lowman writes:
"Of the upcoming concert, King says, "I'm looking forward to reuniting with all my bandmates. We're older but not dead. Some of us can remember all of the words; all of us can remember some of the words; but NONE of us can remember all of the music. That's why they call it rock and roll." 
The historic El Rey Theatre is located in the preserved art deco Miracle Mile district at 5515 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036 (323-936-6400). Valet, lot and street parking are available. Doors open at 7:30pm. Tickets are $40-$200 and go on sale today, Thursday, May 24, 2012 via and Ticketmaster. $200 VIP ticket includes pre-show reception and “meet & greet” from 6:30pm to 7:30pm.

Reading King In Chronological Order

James Smythe is writing a series of articles on his process of reading all of the Stephen King books in order.  Cool!  And, glad to read his comments – as it’s not something I would take on!  Sounds, eh, messy to me.

Of course, this means he started with Carrie.  Besides giving a brief synopsis and observations, Smythe also has Kingisms and Flagg-raising subsections.  In Kingisms, he looks at common stylistic touches that appear throughout King’s works.  This will probably be my favorite portion of Smythe’s articles.  Under Flagg-raising, he takes time to point out where the Dark Man is hiding in this particular novel.  Imagine it as the Where’s Waldo of the review.

Wait!  Is the man in black in Carrie?  Smythe writes:
Carrie's mother, in her religious fervour, frequently refers to – either directly, or through Carrie's prior indoctrination – "the black man … his cloven feet striking red sparks from the cement". Now, while it's meant to be the devil in this instance – or, rather, a more direct suggestion of the devil than Randall Flagg's usual appearances – that particular being is never mentioned by name. And "the black man" is awfully close to the Man in Black and the Dark Man, I'd say …
Read the full review HERE.

King Comments On Caring For The Poor

Bangor Daily News has an article titled, "Maine’s poor take to stage in Bangor in effort to dispel myths." Pat LaMarche moderated the two hour event at Husson University Wednesday night.

(Full story HERE)
Sponsored by WKIT and WZON, Stephen and Tabitha King’s Bangor radio stations, Faces of the Poor featured people from the community who say they were hurt by the Maine Legislature’s final budget. 
“I grew up Methodist, and I remember a lot of those scriptural readings I heard in church,” Stephen King noted in a news item posted on his stations’ website. “One of them, from the book of Matthew, quotes Jesus: ‘Here is the truth: anything you did not do for the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Or, from the book of Luke, ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ 
“The poor are just as much a part of our community as the rich. They deserve bread for their tables, a roof over their heads, clothes to wear, and shoes to walk in. When we do for them, we do for ourselves,” King said. “It’s called sharing the love.”
That's awesome!  Hold on. . . let me think about this. . . as a preacher I've got to say : THAT'S AWESOME!  King is quite right, the Scriptures do command us to have a compassionate attitude toward the poor.  Something the conservative right would do well to remember.

King's note is evidence that he has not forgotten his childhood and the desperate measures his mother went to in order to make sure he  and his brother were okay.  It is also evidence that he remembers well the Scriptures he was taught, and in particular the words of Jesus.

CyberBully: A New Take On Carrie

HERE's an interesting article about a student  made film, CyberBully, that is supposed to be based on Carrie.
FARMINGTON — The students of the Henry Wilson Memorial School are debuting their new movie, "CyberBully".

It is a modern-day take on Stephen King's "Carrie". Made by eighth and seventh graders, the movie will be shown in the school gym on Wednesday, May 30 at 6 pm. Doors will open at 5.
Interesting.  Showing a movie based on Carrie in the school  gym. . .

Garris Invades New Territory

The Hollywood Reporter has  posted news that Mick Garris is hard at work on a new film.  This time it's not a Stephen King adaptations, but the story of aliens invading planet earth. Now that's a fresh, new idea!  I've been waiting for someone to make a story about alien invasion.

Hollywood Reporter states:

Garris described Invasion as The Outer Limits meets Mad Men, a time of “men in ties and hats and when you thought you could trust the government.” 
The script, by A.J. Ferrara, centers on a woman reporter trying to show a male-centric newsroom that she is more than just “boobs and a skirt,” in Garris’ words. In trying to step out of the style pages she’s been relegated to she uncover the truth behind an alien invasion. 

Youtube: 1982 King at University of Dayton

Here is King speaking at University of Dayton in 1982.  King is engaging, funny and very lively.  This is a lot of fun!
"One reason I write is to deal with the horror.  The other reason is to do something with a sense of wonder."
Oh.  . . and he talks a little about where he gets his ideas.  In particular, it is neat that he talks about the monster under the bridge.  Interesting because IT was still in the works.

He also reads The Reach.


Stephen King was one of many well known names to appear as a signatory to Amnesty International's open letter to President Obama and Karzai.  Of course,  this is offered on the eve of upcoming talks between the two leaders.

The document lists eight specific steps they ask the leaders to take in order to ensure the protection of women and their representation in Afgan government.

The  letter reads in part:

We are concerned that the U.S. and allied withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014 may put women and girls at even greater risk of abuses. The latest statement by the Ulema Council of Afghanistan that women should “respect the right of men to polygamy” and “not travel without a close male relative,” must be viewed as a threat to women’s human rights. The Council has proclaimed that men are superior to women. 
In this climate, we are alarmed that inadequate attention is being paid to women’s rights and participation in peace talks with the Taliban. Women must be empowered in the educational, economic and political life of Afghanistan or the country will fail to achieve a stable and prosperous future after a decade of effort to secure and rebuild the country.
Kings name is simply listed: "Stephen King, Author."

The full letter is HERE.
The signatories are HERE.

King In June / July Issue Of Esquire

Jule Bosman has a short article at Media Decoder about some new attempts Esquire is making to not only include more fiction -- but to market it to men.

While a lot of the focus in fiction is in the e-book world, the article also reveals that King and Hill will be published in the June / July issue of Esquire.

Bosman writes:
It coincides with the publication of three works in the June/July issue of Esquire — by Stephen King and his son Joe Hill; the thriller writer Lee Child; and Colum McCann. The works will be available only in the print and iPad editions of the magazine.
David Granger, the editor in chief of Esquire, said he has lamented the loss of space that magazines devoted to publishing fiction. The New Yorker is perhaps the most visible home for fiction in the magazine world, but many other magazines have cut back.
The full article is HERE.

Recasting THE STAND movie

Rory O'Connor has a fun article at the examiner recasting Ben Afflecks version of The Stand.
She writes (and I completely agree) “as long as they get a better Frannie Goldsmith, then things are moving in the right direction (I love Molly Ringwald, but she was NOT Frannie).” 

The full article is HERE.  I liked it a lot.

A Good Marriage to be A Good Movie

I spotted this  first  at my favorite Stephen King website, Lilja's Library.

From Screen Daily:

Atlas International has added Stephen King adaptation A Good Marriage to its Cannes slate. 
Peter Askin will direct the psychological thriller based on a short story from King’s book Full Dark - No Stars, winner of the 2010 Bram Stoker Award for Best Collection. Will Battersby produces. 
A Good Marriage follows a woman who discovers her husband’s dark secret hiding in their garage. The New York shoot is set to get underway in late summer for a summer 2013 release. 
“Everyone at Atlas is very excited to be part of this project and honored by its new association with Stephen King, a true master if there ever was.“ says Philipp Menz, CEO of Atlas International.” 
The project is out to cast.
This is exciting news.  I loved this novel!  I think it was brilliant.    It was kind of a Dolores Claiborne with a twist.  Not at all the same stuff, but a story of a woman getting sweet revenge.

10,000 Magazines: UMaine Today

10,000 Magazines, #9,999
UMaine Today,  December, 2001

This magazine is cool  because it's  not highly circulated.  It's the alumni magazine for the University of Maine.

The article by King is titled, "Reflections of a campus activist." The prologue discusses King's tenure as a student at The University of Maine, and a special October 3 (2001) panel he participated in.  The reason for the focus was the publication of King's novel (novel's) hearts in Atlantis.

The article isn't by King so much as it is quotes from his discussion on the panel.

King discussed the protest and his involvement.  The first protest he remembers is a boycott of grapes sold at supermarkets in the Bangor area.  From there, he relates that he became part of the anti-war movement.

King said, "When I came on campus in 1966, I lived in Gannett Hall and my roommate was Harold Crosby of Whiting, Maine.  he knew what he wanted to do (become a dentist),he did it and is doing it today.  Harold is in Harts in Atlantis.  By January 1967, he had decided that we were wrong to be in Vietnam.  To this day, I am mad that Harold beat me to that realization."

King also relates that "There was a tremendous amount of excitement about being involved with the anti-war protests."

I liked this discussion about a visit home form college:
"I came home from college and one of my aunts from Massachusetts was up visiting.  I was in the kitchen and my mother and aunt were in the living room.  I heard my aunt say to my mother, 'Why don't you tell him to cut his hair or get the hell  out?  he looks like a girl and he's talking all this stuff about the government.' My mother said, 'I don't agree with him but he's doing what he believes is right, and he's now old enough to think for himself.'  My eyes filled with tears and I had to leave the room.  I didn't want her to know I had over heard that and she never spoke of it again." 
My mother died of cancer in1974. In late 1973when it was clear that she was never going to get better, she was in bed and she grabbed me and pulled me down and said, 'I want to tell you something before I go.  You have to promise not to tell your bother.' I said OK, and she said, 'I voted  for McGovern."

King reflected that looking back, he's not always a big fan of his generation.  "I think the impact of the activism can be overrated."  He notes that a lot of people who were  young and involved in activism later became Reagan voters.  He feels his generation quit a little too early, that they could have (and should have) pushed for more.

In a sidebar, there is a description of Hearts in Atlantis.  It says:

Every year for the past decade, a class book has united  University of Maine students and faculty in a common dialogue about literature and contemporary issues.
This year's class book has done that and much more.  The book, Hearts in Atlantis, is written by UMaine alumnus, Stephen King.  It is composed of three short  stories and two novellas, one of which relates the experiences of a first year student at The University of Maine in 1966. 
Hearts in Atlantis, a movie starring Anthony Hopkins that is based on King's book, was released early this fall. 
Some of the issues raised in the book assumed even greater importance for the readers following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks  on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.  Students are drawing parallels between their reactions to the terrorist threats and how the college age characters in King's book cope with the Vietnam War.  
Hearts in Atlantis is a teaching tool in a number of UMaine classes this academic year, including the English course "The Class Book: Stephen King and the 1960's," in which students study the Vietnam War era and how it subsequently shaped America. 
This is the 10th year UMaine has incorporated a class book into its curricula. 
For many years, the class book was required reading by first year students in English 101 classes.  Topics raised by the volumes were the focus of campus lectures and panel discussions.  In recent years, UMaine's Division of Lifelong Learning has offered non-credit discussion classes and Web-based courses focused on the class book. 
UMaine's first class book was Hen's Teeth and Horses Toes, by Stephen Jay Gould.  All but one of the class book authors have come to campus to lecture, effectively linking the writers with their readers.

Gaiman: Advice from Stephen King

Here is Neil Gaiman's commencement address at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.  Gaiman is an author and comic book writer.  He also recently interviewed Stephen King and gave us news that King is working on Joyland.

I really liked this!  Watching a speaker address graduates is always interesting because they usually dig a little deeper within themselves.  Gaiman does a lot of that here.  He discusses not writing just for the money, a theme of Stephen King's -- and the joy of having a job where  you just get to make things up.  He brilliantly advises grads to "make good art."

The best advice he was ever given was 20 years ago from Stephen King.  He says that King liked Sandman and noted all the attention Gaiman was getting.  Gaiman was at a great place in his career, good things were happening, and King advised: "This is really great.  You should really enjoy it."  Only, Gaiman shares, he didn't take time to  enjoy it.   He plunged deeper into work.  He failed to acknowledge earlier how much fun writing is.

My favorite quote:
"You get work however you get work, but keep people keep working in a freelance world (and more and more of today’s world is freelance), because their work is good, because they are easy to get along with and because they deliver the work on time. And you don’t even need all three! Two out of three is fine. People will tolerate how unpleasant you are if your work is good and you deliver it on time. People will forgive the lateness of your work if it is good and they like you. And you don’t have to be as good as everyone else if you’re on time and it’s always a pleasure to hear from you."
Okay, so you sort of have to hear him say it to really get it.

The heart of his speech:  Make good art!

Ebay Audio: Drawing of the three

Here is a copy of The Drawing Of The Three that we discussed  recently.  These are tapes.  What's neat about this recording is that it was done by Stephen King.

A Conversation With Stephen King at UMass Lowell has posted news  that King will speak at UMass Lowell.

The school’s website has this statement:
LOWELL, Mass. – Stephen King’s words on page and screen have thrilled and chilled fans for three decades, but opportunities to hear those words spoken by the author himself are rare.  
For one night only, King will take to the stage at the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell, offering fans the chance to hear King read his work, ask him questions and listen to him discuss his passion for writing and his advice for aspiring authors. “A Conversation with Stephen King” – set for Friday, Dec. 7 at 7:30 p.m. – will be moderated by Andre Dubus III, bestselling author and professor in UMass Lowell’s English Department, the program’s co-sponsor.  
King’s appearance marks the debut of the new UMass Lowell Chancellor’s Speaker Series. Tickets to the Dec. 7 event go on sale to the public Friday, June 1 and are $30 (plus $2 facility fee) for general admission and $50 ($2 facility fee) for reserved floor seating. Tickets will be sold at the Tsongas Center box office, and 866-722-8780. Admission is free for UMass Lowell students with valid ID who obtain tickets in advance at the Tsongas Center box office.  
“Writing requires not just a creative mind and some good ideas, but also dedication to the craft. I look forward to sharing my experiences as a writer and the lessons I have learned with UMass Lowell students and the public,” said King, who will hold a special master class for UMass Lowell creative writing majors during his visit to the university.
To further support UMass Lowell students, King and his wife, Tabitha, will endow a new scholarship fund in their names. King will donate his fee from the UMass Lowell appearance and at least $5 from every ticket sold for the Dec. 7 event will go to this scholarship fund.  
“It is a tremendous honor to have Stephen King as the first headliner of the new UMass Lowell Chancellor’s Speaker Series. This is a perfect example of how the series will bring people at the top of their fields to campus to speak to our students and the community,” said Chancellor Marty Meehan. “We are also very grateful to Stephen and Tabitha King for their generous support for student scholarships here at UMass Lowell.” 
The full article is HERE.

Music From THE SHINING mini-sires

10,000 Magazines: Disney Adventures

I read an article recently titled "Who's Helping Who In The Cover Blurb Game?" (HERE) Author Anthony Horowitz writes, " I even turned up on a self-help book I hadn't read – the publishers took my name and helped themselves."  Funny!

After giving us an almost circular  parade of authors praising one another's books, Horowitz concludes: "the overall impression is simply that big writers like big writers and my reaction is – so what?"

When it comes to Stephen King, he does like big writers.  Who wouldn't?  But he also supports first time writers.  His recent enthusiastic endorsement of The Passage is evidence of that.  How about this, King has even been known to point his readers toward people they haven't heard of at all.  He did this in the past by offering intro's to collection books or first time novels.

I really enjoyed Disney's October 1992 edition of "Disney Adventures," in which King served as a judge for a kids writing competition.  It is neat to see him encouraging young people's writing.

Ten Thousand Magazines #10,000

Disney Adventures, October, 1991

By the way,  this magazine is fantastic!  The cover  itself  makes you want to read it.  The magazine is full of color,  and I had trouble keeping my kids hands off of it.  "Stop it!" I kept saying.  "That's a Stephen King book!"  They didn't  care.

Here is King's letter to the kiddos:
A Warning From . . .Stephen KingDear Scary Story Fans, 
There are always a few frumpy grown-ups out there who like to go around moaning that kids are too busy watching TV and playing Nintendo to read anymore, let alone write stories.  It’s pretty clear to me that the current crop of grumps missed the Scary Stories Contest in Disney Adventures magazine, because if they ahd seen the six final entries that I saw, they would have changed their minds in a hurry.  Tommi Lewis, the editor in charge of taking care of the contest entries, told me there were over seven hundred stories in all, and if the ones I saw were any indication of how much good writing kids are doing. . . wow! 
I liked Kyle Chistenson’s “One Night In The Museum,” a story that explains just how deadthings sometimes get in the Egyptian Wing, and Keegan Buckingham’s “Attack of the Killer Hose,” where a vampire garden-hose wakes up and goes looking for its ghoul-friend (or was that its girl-friend?), but the best of the bunch – for me, at least – was “Mr. Tilmore,” by Aaron N.  Carmichael.  You may think your own little town is boring, but until you read Aaron’s freaky fable, you won’t have any idea how dead things can get on summer vacation. 
Okay, enough jokes.  I just want to say that this story really is good.  The adults who run the world always make allowances for kids, as you know; that’s why Little league fields are smaller than regular baseball fields and the baskets are sometimes lowered when the Pee Wee Basketball teams play.  We make thesame allowances when it coems to painting pictures, playing music, writing poetry. . .  Or making up scary stories.  But if you think the story you are about to read is going to be scary “for a kid,” you may be in for a surprise. . . and you may findyourself remembering Mr. Tilmore, that slightly strange fellow next door, after you turn the lights off tonight.  You may even – heh-heh-heh – imagine he’s there in the room with you.  Fairwarning, okay?   My congratulations and admiration to all the finalists, including David Tamakiin Cresskill, New Jersey; Jeffery Winter in Partlow, Virginia; and Jocelyn Szczepaniak-Gillece, in Linthicum, Maryland. . .  But my special congratulations to aron Carmichael, who wrote a story that’s not just “scary for kids” but is “scary for anybody, even Stephen King.” 
And for the rest of you, just remember that the best way to fight fire is with fire, and the best way to fight fear is with fear.  In other words, keep writing those scary stories. 
Gruesomely yours, Stephen King

Stupid Inspiration From A Stephen King Book

I think the main idea in reading a Stephen King book is that you are supposed to read it, enjoy it and move on with life.  Right?  I mean, this isn't Scripture -- you don't need to live it out!  I state the obvious because it seems some people don't know that.

Now HERE is an interesting article about a clown that stalks children. . . based on IT.  I will withhold the many pages of commentary and simply say that any parent who is inspired by a Stephen King book to hire a clown to stalk their child, should be forced to spend their sick days with Annie Wilkes.
Evil cake-slinging clown offers to stalk your child
An “evil birthday clown” in Switzerland, for a fee, will threaten and stalk your child for the entire week leading up to their birthday, all while waiting for the perfect moment to attack them. 
The clown, Dominic Deville, will send frightening text messages, make prank calls and even booby-trap their letters, but the icing on the cake is the surprise attack – a cake in the kid’s face, reported Metro
Dominic Deville is capitalizing on what has become a mainstay for all circus-going kids: the fear of clowns, reported The Huffington Post. He also apparently is capitalizing on unusually cruel parents. 
“The child feels more and more that it is being pursued,” Deville told Metro. “The clown’s one and only aim is to smash a cake into the face of his victim, when they least expect it, during the course of seven days.” 
Mr Deville’s look appears based on the monster clown played by Tim Curry in the 1990 TV adaptation of the Stephen King novel It,” reported The Sun
In his text messages, phone calls and letters to his targets, Deville lets them know that their time is coming, according to the Herald Sun
Since the creepy prank is supposedly all done in fun, Mr Deville the evil clown does promise to back off if the parent’s ask him to, so the judgment call on how scarred the child should be is left up to already questionable judgment. 
“If at any point the kids get scared or their parents are concerned we stop right there,” he said. “But most kids absolutely love being scared senseless.”

Ten Thousand Magazines

I think magazines that feature articles about Stephen King, or written by King, are a lot of fun!  It's neat to see how King was viewed at a particular time.  I've been slowly collecting Stephen King magazines for the last few years.  It's a fun, easy collection to build.  The magazines don't usually cost much, even the old stuff.

So here's what I like:

1. Old articles show  us how King was viewed at a particular time.  

2. The magazines also show what was happening in the world around.  You can spot prices, politics and entertainment now gone.  

So, I'm going to do a series of articles about Stephen King magazines.  We'll start with the number 10,000 and count down.  Why 10k?  Because I believe I won't run out of numbers!

Doctor Sleep In January has posted news that Doctor Sleep will be released in January.  That sort of ruins the chances of getting it for  Christmas!   Good to know, I'm already saving my money to get  to a live signing.

Doctor Sleep sounds to me like a mix of The Shining, Firestarter and Salem's Lot.  Would Barlow travel in an RV ?

I  really like the idea King has of looking at the after effects of a horrific event like what happened to Danny in the Overlook.  The kid can't just walk away and have a normal life after that.

Here's what posted:
U.S. publication date for Doctor Sleep has been tentatively set for January 15, 2013
Stephen King returns to the characters and territory of one of his most popular novels ever, The Shining, in this instantly riveting novel about the now middle-aged Dan Torrance (the boy protagonist of The Shining) and the very special twelve-year-old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals. 
On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless—mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and tween Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the “steam” that children with the “shining” produce when they are slowly tortured to death. 
Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant “shining” power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes “Doctor Sleep.” 
Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of hyper-devoted readers of The Shining and wildly satisfy anyone new to the territory of this icon in the King canon.

Quigley Review Of Audio WTTKH

Hey,  I loved Kevin Quigley's review of the audio edition of The Wind Through The Keyhole at fearnet (HERE)   It is titled, “Listening to the Wind: Stephen King, the Dark Tower, and 'The Wind Through the Keyhole' on Audio.”

Quigley offers a teriffic “history” of the Gunslinger as a book – an audio book in particular.  He also reviews King as a reader,  and in particular his reading of the Dark Tower novels.   I really enjoyed this portion.  Those of you complaining that King should have given the floor to professionals who have previously recorded the Dark Tower audio books, would do well to note that Stephen King is the first true audio reader of The Dark Tower.

Quigley gives us one big helpful tip: There is a preview, only available on the audio edition of WTTKH, of Doctor Sleep.  SWEET! Quigley writes, “While there's no word on whether King will read the entire novel on audio, his take here is spooky and unsettling. If this excerpt is any judge, Doctor Sleep is going to be one scary book.”

The full article is here at

Recycled Books

So where do you shop for  books?  I don't know about you, but the mega chain bookstores really don't cut it for me these days.  I can find what I want quicker and cheaper on Amazon.  Besides, they all  sell the same thing.  They're like the Walmarts of  the book world.

I enjoyed this Texas Observer article by Sarah Angle titled "Booking to Denton."  It's about a  massive bookstore (Recycled Books) that has taken up shop in an old Opera house.  You read that right.  Imagine if the place was haunted by a Phantom!

One of the things the article mentioned is that they had a first edition of Carrie.  You know I had to call!  However, that was sold.  A very nice man did tell us that they also have a first edition of the gunslinger, $700.  Wow, pretty cool.  No, I didn't buy. . . because my credit card at that  ZERO balance feels so good.  But. . . anyone on the hunt for a first of the Gunslinger. . . follow the beam.

The full article is HERE.
The bookstore  is HERE.

Stephen King Calls Frasier

Spacek Thrilled By New Carrie

Shock Till You Drop has an interview with Carrie star, Sissy Spacek, titled, "Sissy Spacek Thrilled by Potential for a New Carrie."  (HERE)

Edward Douglas says that Spacek will be watching the movie when it comes out, and that she thinks Chloe Moretz is a "wonderful actress." He response to Julianne Moore playing mama? – "That’s great!"

Douglas quotes Spacek:
"They hired a really wonderful director, very talented. It'll be interesting. Our film, it is what it is what it is, and it stood the test of time, but I think that's great, it's like an homage not only to the book but to the film, not only to Stephen King but to Brian De Palma. It's been made many times. There have been several television movies, 'Carrie 2,' two musicals! I remember thinking the first time there was a musical on Broadway, 'Oh my Gosh! The people who ordinarily go to the theaters, that's not really the audience.' The first audience of 'Carrie' has aged now, so I think out of curiosity, I think it's cool. As I understand it, they're not remaking our film; they're going back to the source material, to the book."

Salem's Lot Script

Here's an interesting ebay item: The 1979 shooting Script for Salem's Lot.  It is selling for $125.

SALEM'S LOT by Stephen King screenplay 1979 Tobe Hooper shooting script.
Warner Brothers Television, Burbank, CA, 1979. Paper Wraps. Book Condition: Good with no dust jacket. Shooting script June 11, 1979.
Executive Producer Stirling Silliphant, producer Richard Kobritz, Writer Stephen
King/Paul Monash, Director Tobe Hooper. 195 pages. 

Salem's Lot Radio Drama

In 1995 BBC did a 7 part radio drama of Salem's Lot.  You can get it as an MP3 at SFFaudio. I do not know  if they got permission from BBC or not.

wikipedia lists  the differences between the radio drama and the novel:

  • Ralphie Glick's role is reduced (and his vampiric activities are left vague)
  • Dud Rogers and the junkyard see only cursory mention (much of the Barlow/Dud Rogers dialogue having been rescripted into the Barlow/Larry Crockett death scene)
  • Danny Glick's rise from the grave (and the death of Mike Ryerson) are now enabled/supervised by Barlow, who mesmerizes Ryerson and calls Danny forth
  • Father Callahan and Dr. Cody become quick/willing vampire-hunters, with virtually no complaint or skepticism
  • Mark Petrie uses shards of broken glass (rather than contortionist rope-tricks) to free himself from Straker's knots
  • The entire narrative is framed by Ben Mears' confession to a Mexican priest (who periodically interrupts the retelling with specific questions)
The wikipedia article is HERE.

2004 Salem’s Lot Mini-Series

Since I just finished reading about Salem’s Lot, and watching the 1978 mini-series, I also gave the 2004 miniseries a whirl.  (181 minutes)

Composer Christopher Gordon's site notes, "Salem's Lot premieres on the TNT cable channel on June 20th and 21st, 2004 to be broadcast throughout the summer and shown worldwide later in the year."

I’m going to tell you now, I liked it.

The less likable stuff:

I’m reading a lot of fans who absolutely hated this film, and probably with good reason.  There’s a lot to hate here!  In particular, the story is so heavily changed at unnecessary points.

When King gave us the unabridged version of The Stand he pointed out that we would not find old characters behaving in new ways.  Their behavior would remain consistent with what we found in the abridgement.  I think that is what fans also expect of movies.  We’re okay with new scenes, or even story changes – so long as characters remain consistent with who they are in the novel.  But in this version, Father Callahan in particular is a very different character.  And, for a movie that wanted to so honor King’s work, it doesn’t make sense to mess up the Callahan character, who is necessary for the Dark Tower.

Another example is the story of Dr. Cody.  He is tricked into an affair, and then extorted.  This is to combine another story from the novel – but it doesn’t work with Cody’s character in the book.

Some of the complaining about this movie is just ridiculous.  One website whined that the movie’s narration is not read by Rob Lowe in the same voice that he acts in the movie.  That’s because. . . he’s narrating!  

Now, for what I did like. . .

1. I liked the references to other King works.
  • The music in the background of the bar: Stand By Me.
  • Rob Lowe also starred in The Stand.
  • Andre Braugher, who plays Matt Burke also played Brent Norton in The Mist.
  • Father Calahan is played by James Cromwell, who also played the warden in The Green Mile.
  • Background as they search for missing children, “Shut up, Cujo.”

2. This is an all star cast!  Donald Southerland, Rob Lowe both do great.

3.This version does a nice job of telling more of the back story than the original mini-series.  It also doesn’t have that strange 70s tv feel.  The narration quotes large passages from the book as the Lot is described.

4.  I really like the Marsten House!  The inside is delapadated, like a long forsaken building might be expected to be.

5. I like the dark, shadowy Barlow in this.

6. Oh, them Vampires are a nasty brew!  Very nice.  I like the way the vampires leap about and crawl naturally on the ceiling.  A very nice, freaky, touch!  They feel like real animals in human skin.

7. At points, this version is much closer to the novel.  Not only is the narration drawn directly from the book, but the scene in which Barlow confronts the priest is very similiar.  Allowing the vampire to speak is great, and Rutger Hauer (who plays Kurt Barlow) does it so well.  He doesn’t turn into Bella L., or try and be anything other than Mr. Barlow.  He is energetic, condescending and flat out mean.  This is a scary Barlow.

8. It is neat when people get bit.  For all the fear they have of getting gnawed on by a vamp, once it actually happens, the experience appears euphoric.

The review at 80's fear notes:
“The smaller touches often work the best, such as Petrie’s models now including Cenobites instead of the standard Universal monsters or the subtle way the abuse committed by the young mother against her baby is handled. Donald Sutherland is great as Straker, Dan Byrd is good as Mark Petrie, while Rutger Hauer and Andre Braugher give great performances in slightly underwritten roles that keep them offscreen too long. The Marsten house also appears a much more menacing structure, looming over the town, while 90% of the second half gets things right and manage to stay fairly close to the novel (at least until the stupid character change in Callahan, especially stupid given the character’s tales of the events following Salem’s Lot in the same year’s novel Wolves Of The Calla), the fifth of the Dark Towerseries.” (HERE)

The Music

Composer Christopher Gordon has a lot of information about the music in this mini-series(HERE)

Asked if he read the book, Gordon replied: "By the time I came on to the project the film was nearing the end of editing. I haven't read the book and I think it is important that the composer score the film that's in front of him or her. There can be quite a difference in structure, interpretation and tone from the script by the time the director has shaped it and the actors, cinematographer and editor have brought their ideas to it. So the book is even further removed. The composer's inspiration and challenges are what's on the screen."

Gordon's site also notes:
For this lavish production, Christopher has paired with internationally-renowned vocal soloist Lisa Gerrard, whose distinctive work with composer Hans Zimmer on Gladiator (2000) garnered her a Golden Globe. For Salem's Lot, Lisa jointly-contributed to three cues, which are represented on the soundtrack album as "Bloody Pirates, "Converting The Priest", and "Salem's Lot Theme". Lisa also composed "Salem's Lot Aria", with Patrick Cassidy, and "Free in Spirit". 
Recorded between October and December, 2003 at the newly-constructed Trackdown Scoring Stage in Sydney, the score to Salem's Lot was brought alive by the choir Cantillation and the composer's regular session orchestra, Pro Musica Sydney. Gordon's score, whilst constructed around a diatonic key centre, derives a proportion of its material from a series of aleatoric cells and harmonic clusters used to form a structured montage. Thematically, his music is driven by a need to define strength in the face of sheer adversity, accentuating the nature of the evil that has overridden the Marsten House and which now pervades Jerusalem's Lot.

Identifying First Editions

Very Fine Books has released a new/updated guide for identifying Stephen King first editions.  Here is their news release:
Here's a handy new guide we just published on our blog for identifying Stephen King first edition books. 
Even though there are similar tables online, this one is unique. It is searchable. That means you don't have to waste your time scrolling through over 50 novels. 
The search bar is located at the top right of table. Just type in what you're looking for and the results should come up. 
For example, let's say you wanted to know if you have a first edition of The Stand. Just type in "The Stand" and you'll see the 2 novels there along with all the 1st printing identifiers. . 
You can even search by publication year. Let's say you wanted to know what King novel was published in 1977, just type in 1977 in the search bar and you'll see The Shining and Rage. 

Salem's Lot miniseries

After reading Salem's Lot I was anxious to watch the mini-series.  My expectations were pretty low.  However, I was pleasantly surprised that the mini-series is very faithful  to the King novel.

Some characters have been spliced together -- awkwardly!  A teenage boy is now a grown real-estate agent.  And oh my. . . the 70's were not good to our hair! One lady has bright orange poofy hair.  Terrible, just terrible.  Certainly does not portray small town America -- I hope!  The town of Salem's Lot is beautiful in the movie.  My biggest objection runs along the lines of something Stephen King said as well, Barlow the vampire doesn't get any lines!  He's just a growling, hissing monster.  The talking is left to his assistant.

The movie has some good effects and truly scary scenes.  For television as it was  at the time, I think this was pretty good.

The scenes in Mark's bedroom are flat  out funny.  First of all, no kid has a bedroom that  big -- unless it's  on a SOUND STAGE!  Also, apparently this kid doesn't own clothes.  He  wears clothes, but his bedroom doesn't have a single jacket tossed over a chair, no shirts on the bed, no shoes on the floor.

But. . . here's the best  part  about Mark's room: The view from the window.  In the picture above, you can see a vampire (a child vamp!) rising to  the window.  But even when there is no vampire, a misty fog drifts by the window.  Where do these people live -- spooksville?


Cinefantastique (Volume 9, number 2 -- 1979) ran several articles when the movie came out that were great.  Also reviewed were: The Amityville Horror, The Muppet Movie and The Black Hole.

Here are some of my favorite selections:

Stephen King:
"CBS  worried about a few things in the screenplay.   They worried about using a kid as young as Mark Petrie is in the book, because you're not supposed to put a kid that young in mortal jeopardy -- although they do it just about every day in the soap  operas.  Some things were left out because of time,some because  it's television.  My favorite scene in the book is with Sandy McDougall, the young mother, where she attempts to feed her dead baby, and keeps spooning the food into  his mouth.   That  won't be on TV, obviously."
Tobe Hooper directed the film.   He is most famous for Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  The article says, "It is important to note that the selection of Hooper did not signify an attempt to mimic the intensity of Texas Chainsaw in a television show, which would have been frankly impossible."

The minisieres was budgeted at $4 million, which was "norm for prestigeminiseries. . ." (of that time).

The California town of Ferndale served as Salem's Lot for the film.  Got that, right?  A California town portrayed a small Maine town.  HERE is a cool website about Ferndale.

The only problem was, there was no house that could be used as a double for the Marsten House.  The movie team found a cottage on a hillside overlooking Ferndale and the Salt River Valley and built a full scale mock up of the Marsten House around the existing cottage!  The family living in the cottage was paid $20,000 and guaranteed all of the lumber from Marsten House once shooting was completed.

Starsky and Hutch  star David Soul was chosen to play Ben.King said, "I think the castingof David Soul is fine.  I have no problem with that at all."

David Soul:
"I cleaned  up my speech pattern a little  bit.  I sound like a writer, a man at home with words.  Starsky and Hutch was always dip-dip-dip, a street jargon and repartee, sort of half-finished sentences.  This time I stuck with  he lines and discipline of a well-written script.  There's also a mysterious quality to Ben Mears, and I tried to work with hat.  I didn't socialize a lot.  It was a rough part, and in a sense I tried to let all of the neuroses that were building up in David Soul  because of the pressure work for the character."

And. . . "Yes, there are a lot of inconsistencies, built into the script because the producers felt  that since it's television, there needs to be this reiteration of the fears on Ben Mears' part -- so the audience is constantly aware.  That for me is not giving the picture everything it could have.  There are only so many times Ben Mears can say, 'Did you ever have the feeling something is inherently evil?', you know? There are a million other ways to say that same thing.  I much prefer the scenes such as the entrance of Straker when his cane, which comes far  closer  to creating true terror, than dialogue can."

Salem's Lot Journal #5: The Power Of Faith

Salem’s Lot was a complete thrill ride!

A few final notes:


There is a boo-boo when a character is killed and hung upside down, Father Callahan says, “It’s as old as Macedonia. . . Hanging the body of your enemy or betrayer upside down so his head faces the earth instead of heaven.  St. Paul was crucified that way, on an X-shaped cross with his legs broken.”  Well, Father Callahan got his facts wrong on that one.  Paul didn’t die crucified upside down, Peter did.  It is said this was done at Peter’s request, because he did not want to die the same way Jesus did.

The Writing:

The writing is generally strong throughout.  There is a lot of plotting by the main characters.  We seem to spend a lot of time moving the chess pieces around the board, and at times it can get a little confusing.

I like this line. . . “The hammer struck the top of the stake squarely, and the gelatinous tremor that vibrated up the length of ash would haunt him forever in his dreams.  Her eyes flew open, wide and blue, as if from the very force of the blow.  Blood gushed upward from the stake’s point of entry in a bright and astonishing flood, splashing his hands, his shirt, his cheeks.  In an instant the cellar was filled with its hot, coppery odor.”  Notice in just a couple sentences, King told you hat to see, what to feel (the vibration of the hammer)and what to smell (coppery blood).  It is as if the reader is drawn into the scene with the characters.

Salem’s Lot ends with a series of newspaper articles.  In this sense it is very much like Carrie.  The articles give the novel a sense of realism.  They also. . . date the novel!  Each entry has a date that has long passed in our world.  A date when Jimmy Carter was president.

The date for Salem’s Lot – America, 1970's – is important.  Could an entire town be overtaken today?  With email, twitter, facebook and skype?

There is a scene in which the vampire Barlow leaves a lengthy letter for Ben and the others seeking to end his terror.  The letter is good, but seems a bit forced.  The vampire is gloating and preaching throughout the epistle.  But the reader (at least this reader) is left wondering, “Why would a vampire take the time to write a letter?”

King has said that he felt more free to have fun with this novel, and that is certainly felt.  King's joy, energy is evident throughout.


Callahan’s confrontation with the Vampire is interesting.  He chooses to rely on logic instead of faith.  The crucifix is like a faith thermometer: “The cross seemed to thrum with chained fire, and its power coursed up his forearm until the muscles bunched and trembled.” But as Callahan questions and doubts, the cross’s glow begins to die.

When his faith falters, the vampire seems genuinely upset.  “Sad to see a man’s faith fail.  Ah well. . .” Barlow boldly takes the cross from the priest and declares, “You have forgotten the doctrine of your own church, is it not so?  The cross. . . the bread and wine. . . only wood, the bread baked wheat, the wine sour grapes.  If you had cast the cross away, you should have beaten me another night.  In a way, I hoped it might be so.  It has been long since I have met an opponent of any real worth.  The boy makes ten of you, false priest.”

Salem’s Lot is an intensely spiritual novel.  It relies on Catholic doctrine – communion, confession as personal means of cleansing so that one is right with God.  In the end, though, it is not the ritual’s that defeat the enemy, but personal faith.  Very much like salvation itself!  Get baptized ten times, it does nothing unless it is a true expression of the repentant heart.

Barlow not only defeats the priest, he humiliates him.  He does not draw him in, but instead casts the priest out. . . after making Father Callahan drink from the Vampire’s blood.  The symbolism is powerful: The priest, who believes the communion wine becomes the blood of Christ, now drinks from the blood of evil.  But evil does not accept him in!  He is not drawn into a new house, but instead simply cast out.  Thus Callahan is not welcome in either the house of God or the house of Satan.  He is a wanderer like Cain.

Of course, Father Callahan's story is not complete in Salem's Lot.  The novel and the character return in The Dark Tower.  In fact, The Dark Tower serves in part as the story of Father Callahan's redemption.

I like it that King's vampire are bad. . . very very bad!  And who is it that has true faith?  A child.