And Barnes and Noble today.  Here's their Stephen King selection.  Not very exciting, is it?  But somehow, comfortingly familiar.  I have all these books -- mostly in hard back.  I found myself staring at the shelves of King books, rows of duplicates, thinking, "This would look coo at home."

See, that's what happens when women make men go to the mall. They need a copy of my book.

Pennywsie introduces Mr. Mercedes

A smile is a frown turned upside down.

YOUTUBE: A Face Among The Masters

Horror and The Scarcity of Resources

by Brandon Engel

One of the great things about speculative fiction is that it reflects something pertinent about present day paranoias. It opens up room for a lot of “what if’s.” What if, in 20 years, abject poverty has demoralized the general public to such an extent that we watch televised game shows where people fight to the death? Under his pseudonym “Richard Bachman,” Stephen King toyed with this in The Running Man (which could maybe even be thought of as the precursor to the Suzanne Collins Hunger Games books). Or what if there were a strain of weaponized virus so powerful, amplified beyond the scope of what immunizations can fortify the human body against that, if released either by accident or through biowarfare, could take out most of the human race? This was, of course, the basis for King’s The Stand.

There will always be evangelicals and paranoiacs (if there’s a distinction to be made) who will take to the streets to decry that the “End is Nigh.” What’s really screwed up, though, is that they could be right. What if the misapplication of technology, or the squandering of natural resources, does effectively bring about “the end of the world.” That’s the sort of cynical musing which precipitates dystopian function.

But what’s even more distressing than the notion of the world ending, is the notion of the world, in the shittiest imaginable state, going on for too long. What bothers you more? The idea of a plague wiping humanity of existence, or the thought that you, and all of your children, and all of their children, would be forced to live under complete totalitarian control, in a world with sparse resources, forced to eat some mysterious green compound that’s handed out in rations?

It all calls to mind any vintage science fiction film where Charlton Heston flips out. Like when he finds out that the Planet of the Apes had actually been Earth the entire time. Or when he finds out the truth about Soylent Green. Thankfully for us, it will probably be a while before humanity is (literally) enslaved by blood-thirsty primates — unless of course Ann Coulter makes it into the GOP primaries, then all bets are off. But if we’re talking about the degree to which “real world” political crises echo our favorite genre pulp tropes, and you take a minute to think about Soylent Green, and all of the “bad press” that Monsanto has been getting in recent sort of makes you wonder.

Soylent Green was a film adaptation of the novel Make Room! Make Room!, written by one of King’s predecessors, pulp novelist and former EC comics illustrator Harry Harrison. The book, penned in 1966, offers a glimpse of a bleak future (“the year 1999”) and the world is (surprise!) fraught with problems. Pollution has destroyed commercial agriculture, and over-population has become a major issue in the major cities (especially in New York City, which is home to 35 million).

In the film, the story takes place in the year 2022, but it’s still the same basic setup. The only available food comes from the rations dispersed by the government subsidized Soylent corporation. Soylent Green is their latest product, and is said to consist mainly of plankton. Heston stars as NYPD detective Frank Thorn, who is put on the case of investigating the death of a local business magnate, who evidently, knew too much. Spoiler alert: Soylent Green is people.
But clearly, it’s not all doom and gloom in the world at large today. Even though there are many issues surrounding agribusiness and the government’s toothlessness when it comes to regulating agriculture, collective apathy is not quite the issue it once was, as more and more major companies strive to reduce their carbon footprint and global consumers become increasingly conscientious about the environment. In North America, Canadians can find superb alternative energy through the Alberta Energy website, while companies like Sharp Solar gain traction in the Japanese markets (impressive, as Japan is one of the biggest polluters in the world) and solar and wind-turbine power generators are becoming fashionable in cities with climates that allow for such things.

But, just as these books and films always reflect something about the mania of their own time, you can’t help but wonder to what degree dystopian future forecasts might prevent certain issues from happening. If droves of filmgoers hadn’t seen Heston bellowing at the end of Soylent Green in 1973, what sort of mysterious compound food ration might we be eagerly standing in line for right now? Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad though. I mean, you put enough ketchup on anything…

Brandon Engel is a blogger with who writes about a variety of topics - everything from vintage exploitation films to energy legislation. Brandon has a penchant for horror literature, and his favorite authors within the genre include: H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, Clive Barker, and, of course, Stephen King. Follow him on Twitter: @BrandonEngel2

The Sims 2: CARRIE

Thanks Bryant Burnette!

Mr. Mercedes Audio Preview

RIFE: Mr. Mercedes Is Going Full Speed

Susan Rife has a nice review of Stephen King's upcoming book, Mr. Mercedes.  She obviously liked the story, as the bulk of the review is a retelling of the books plotline.  I'll spare you the "spoilers."  She closes the review by remarking, "the last 80 pages cannot be doled out over multiple reading sessions. You'll have to swallow them all in a single gulp."

There is also this rather satisfying note: "This being a Stephen King book, people are going to die particularly horrifying and gruesome deaths"

And for the complaints of a previous reviewer who was unsatisfied with the character development, Rife says, "With this small a cast, King is able to fully develop the characters beyond the too-common two-dimensional good guy-bad guy scenario. Brady may be a monster, but as the story unfolds, the layers that made him into a killer are made clear."

Artwork for Mr. Mercedes EW Article

Illustration for an Entertainment Weekly feature excerpt of Stephen King's upcoming novel "Mr. Mercedes." by Owen Freeman

Check these out: Mercedes 1 Mercedes 2 Mercedes 3

Does Mr. Mercedes Have A Flat Tire?

I saw the first review of Mr. Mercedes today -- and it made my heart sag a little. Chuck Bowen of Slant magazine, posted his thoughts today.  Bowen previously wrote an interesting article titled, Five Tips on How to Make a Good Stephen King Movie Adaptation.  It was an interesting article, but since I don't plan on making a Stephen King movie adaptation, and I do plan to read Mr. Mercedes, I dived into the review.

Bowen's review isn't very pretty.  Bowen is just flat out cruel; accusing King of not taking the craft itself seriously.  At the heart of the review if the idea that the novel is undeveloped, underwritten and reads like a screen play.  He praises King for working "outside the horror genre."  But his praise is short lived and he quickly moves to throwing eggs at Mr. King.  In fact, he not only gets his digs in at the book he is reviewing, but takes a few cheap shots at Doctor Sleep while he's at it.  Here's the bullet points:

  • Bowen whines that King is publishing too quickly and not rewriting his work enough.
  • The book, Bowen reports, moves too quickly.  It is too action packed.  "The pace is numbing, relentless."  (yeah, that's the kind of book I like Chucky!)
  • He doesn't like King's use of emphasizing things in the text by bolding, capitalizing and italicizing.
  • Bowen accuses King over using clich├ęs and "absurd, unsatisfying plotting." 
  • Sound tough?  He's not done!  "The dialogue is appallingly tone deaf," Bowen accuses the author. He goes on to say King is dishing out "crass obviousness." 
And he goes on and on.  

I get the sense that Bowen is a bit stuffy in his approach to reading.  Don't have fun with it.  Don't say a building looks like a UFO; or make the dialogue fun.  Bowen is the teacher at the front of the room demanding you use proper English and don't bold so much!  He wants that paper nice and clean, no italicizing or capitalizing.  

Bowen's greatest complaint seems to be that King drives the story hard, pushing it ever forward with energetic writing.  We can't have that, ya know?  No energetic writing!  Writing should be slow, careful and keep the reader a little sleepy.  Bowen would enjoy John Knolls A Seperate Peace or Olive Anne Burns' Cold Sassy Tree.  I want to italicize those book titles, but I won't because I wouldn't want anyone to think I'm italicizing too much.

A clue that Bowen doesn't really know his Stephen King jumps out in his previous article about adapting a Stephen King novel for screen.  He says that King should not be allowed to write the script for his movies, and then says that Pet Sematary is one of the "very worst adaptations of his work."  PET SEMATARY?  One of the worst? Maybe he didn't see Langoliers.  On the Pet Sematary rant, Bowen calls the movie a "flat, impersonal spectacle."

But it's not just Pet Sematary he doesn't like.  He's also not a fan of The Green Mile. Discussing the problem of bringing King's dialogue to screen, Bowen wrote, "But even at its best, King's dialogue is usually too stylized to be spoken out loud, and actors often sound silly in their attempts to imbue it with tossed-off spontaneity, a problem that sinks the already problematic The Green Mile."  I did not realize the Green Mile sank or that it was "problematic."  

Also note that Bowen does not like Frank Darabont's adaptations of Stephen King's work.  So his credibility is about zilch at this point.

Screamplays Arrives

My copy of Screamplays came on Friday.  What a great day!  And what a nice looking book.

Screamplays is huge (why I had Miriam hold it, just for  perspective.)  The cover and interior art are also nicely done. The book itself is first drafts of various screen plays by famous authors.

Table of Contents:"Introduction" by Dean Koontz
"General" by Stephen King
"The Legend of Hell House" by Richard Matheson
"Moonlighting" by Harlan Ellison
"Killing Bernstein" by Harlan Ellison
"Dead in the West" by Joe R. Lansdale
"Track Down" by Ed Gorman
"The Hunted" by Richard Laymon
The driving force behind Screamplays is Cemetery Dance's editor, Richard Chizmar.  By the way, just look at that lineup of writers.  I'm excited anytime Matheson, Laymon and King are all in the same book!

The plays themselves are well done.  I hesitated to read them because I was afraid it was going to be like trying to read Shakespeare in High School.  Who wants to read a play?  Just dialogue, right?  Well, these gifted writers get a lot done with dialogue!  And no, it's not like trying to read the Bard.

The book has been out for a while, but this over sized special edition is new to the scene.  I think I bought the book before the kid holding it in the picture was born.  I'm not kidding.  After buying it, I checked the mail every day.  Finally called CD, and was told that the book had been a "pre-order." Then years went by.   Years!  I actually thought they'd forgotten about it.  Then one day, notice came to my email that they were sending me the book.

By far, my favorite part of the book is Dean Koontz's introduction.  It is hilarious! Koontz discusses the absolute joy of writing a first draft of a screen play.  He explains that unlike a novel, a screen play is easy to play with, to add new plot lines and to keep things moving.  He is definitely a fan -- of the FIRST draft.  But then the work gets sent off to Hollywood producers, directors and the pain begins.  Koontz describes an incident with a confused, muttering director that he ultimately refused to work with.  It's great stuff!

King Never Cashed His Shawshank Check

The Wall Street Journal posted a series of behind the scenes pictures from The Shawshank Redemption.  One caption read:
Mr. King never cashed the $5,000 check Mr. Darabont sent him for the right to turn his story into a movie. Years after 'Shawshank' came out, the author got the check framed and mailed it back to the director with a note inscribed: 'In case you ever need bail money. Love, Steve.' 
Check all the pictures out at

In another article, WSJ points out that The Shawshank Redemption continues to make money.  Though the film did poorly at the box office, it caught on later.

In the days when videocassettes mattered, "Shawshank" was the top rental of 1995. On television, as cable grew, it has consistently been among the most-aired movies. 
In a shifting Hollywood landscape, film libraries increasingly are the lifeblood of studios. "Shawshank's" enduring appeal on television has made it more important than ever—a reliable annuity to help smooth the inevitable bumps in a hit-or-miss box-office business. When studios sell a package of films—many of them stinkers—a "Shawshank" acts as a much-needed locomotive to drag the others behind it.  (
How strong is the film?  WSJ notes that though Warner Brothers wouldn't say how much they made off the film, that it was "one of 6,000 feature films in a library that last year helped generate $1.5 billion in licensing fees from television, plus an additional $2.2 billion from home video and electronic delivery."

My Book About Stephen King

My copies of Stephen King, A Face Among The Masters, came today.  Mostly copies to send for review -- and one for Annie. I dedicated the book to her, and the first copy came on what seemed like the worst day of her life.  (It wasn't trust me) But to see her name in print brought a huge smile to her face on a gloomy day.

You can buy it here:
90 pages
Kindle Edition  $7.50     
Paperback  $8.90 (if you buy the paperback, the Kindle is just $1.00)
The purpose of the book is not so much to tell you brand new things about Stephen King.  Did you know Stephen King wrote his own father into the pages of The Stand?  Yes, I discuss that -- but that kind of information isn't the thrust of  what I wanted to deal with.

Of the many emails I get, very few (none) are asking me questions about King himself.  Usually I get more literary questions.  Of interest to me was to compare King's work and life to the work of other great writers, artist and directors of the past.  Alfred Hitchcock's movies will be studied for years to come; will future generations regard King the same way?

So actually, the book is as much about OTHER artist as it is Stephen King.  It looks at those who inspired him and looks at direct connections between his work and theirs.

Why I wrote under a pen name:
Because I also write other things and did not want to confuse my authors page at Amazon.

I chose to self publish because it was actually the easiest avenue to offer exactly the content I wanted.

There are some things I discovered in the journey:

1. There are no public domain pictures of Stephen King.  

After sending my manuscript to my editor, Kristin, I wrote to a woman who does cover art.  "No  way!" She said at once.  "I can't do anything that has a picture of Stephen King."

I realized I would need someone who didn't just design covers, but who actually had the ability to draw.  That lead me to France (yeah, France) and a young woman named Misha.  She had a lot of ideas, but became a little panicked when she realized that there are indeed NO public domain pictures of Stephen King.  None.  Zip.  

Often cover art is done using stock photos, manipulated in such a way as to make them look original or unique.  So a lot of book covers are really collages.

You can get public domain pictures of Alfred Hitchcock, Charles Dickens, H.P. Lovecraft and even Mr. Poe.  But not Stephen King.  The artist shared that she felt she could draw freehand a picture of King that would be unique to the cover.  
"Are you sure this doesn't break copyright or something," I asked.
"Well, no way," she wrote back.  "I drew it with my own hand.  It's not a photograph, it's a drawing.  More important, it's my drawing."
I felt better.  Nah, actually, I felt really excited!

2. The name Stephen King cannot be used as a search word on Amazon.  

Really? . . . REALLY!  Amazon dinged the book upon review, indicating that  they do not allow authors names or references to other books to be used as keywords.

Wait a minute.  What if the book is actually about Stephen King?

This lead to an exchange of emails.  "What about books that are biographies?" I asked.  Ah, that seemed to raise an eyebrow.  The next day I got an email indicating my search words were A-Okay.  I wrote back, just to be sure exactly which search words were okay.  I got an email from Amazon indicating that they reviewed the book and decided that the name "Stephen King" was indeed an appropriate search term for the subject matter.  I felt like I'd won some kind of small victory.

3. Editing is important.

I didn't learn this -- I knew it; but I think it's worth sharing.  Everything we write needs editing.  Blogs need an editor -- but no one wants to pay someone to edit a blog!  I think it's funny when someone says, "I have an aunt who's  an English major, and she's editing my book."

I had my wife read through the book as I wrote, and then a second time once it was complete.  She caught a lot of things -- but it still had to go off to Kristen House.  I think it's important to find someone who is a professional at editing and who you don't know.  After all, people you know are a little more forgiving.  What's more, people who know you also know how you speak.  That means that when reading, they sometimes fill in words or sentences the way their mind remembers you speaking, not the way the words actually appear on the page.  That's also why you can't edit your own work; you don't see what's on the paper, you see what you remember writing.

A copy edit goes through the entire book, looking for not only spelling errors, but content and clarity of the manuscript.  It also identifies awkward sentences and works to restructure them.

The scary part is fact checking.  As a current post by Bryant Burnette will point out, even fans get facts wrong.  The process of fact checking was constant.  Also, when I sent the small book over to the editor, I had a list of words that were supposed to be spelled wrong.  "Mother Abigail is spelled ABAGAIL," one note read.  And, "Please do not correct Sematary in Pet Sematary."  

Some Stephen King Characters I'd Like To See Fight It Out

Warner Brothers has announced that the official name for the new Batman-Superman movie is, "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice."  The film, directed  by Zack Snyter, will star Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck.  Production is set to to take place in Detroit, Africa, and the South Pacific.

So here are a few favorite Stephen King characters I'd like to pit against each other:
  • Carrie v Charlie McGee (Carrie/Firestarter)
  • Christine v Gage Creed (Christine/Pet Sematary)
  • Alexis Machine v Pennywise (Dark Half/IT)
  • Randy Flagg v. The Mist (The Stand/The Mist)
  • Jack Torrance v Annie Wilkes (The Shining/Misery)
  • Johnny Smith v Brady Hartfield (The Deadzone/Mr. Mercedes)
  • Church v Cujo (Pet Sematary/Cujo)
I'd really like Carrie to visit Needful Things and burn the shop down.

Carrie can move things.  How about, Carrie v. The Dome.

All right, give me yours.

Pennywise Still Creeping Toward The Theater

Borys Kit posted news at the Hollywood Reporter that Warner Brothers, which had been developing Stephen King's IT has given the project to it's New Line division.  New Line appears to be WB choice to lead the way on horror films.  Which is good news to fans!  IT needs to be seen as a horror  movie.
New Line will now take the lead on horror, bringing the company back to one of its roots. It was once known as the House that Freddy Built due to the long-standing success of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. Horror is now having a resurgence at the company -- the emphasis is less slashery and more thrills and chills -- as evidenced by last year's hit The Conjuring.
Borys then shares  that IT appears to be a two part movie plan.  It appears they will follow the path the mini-series did, focusing first on the kids, then the adults in a sequel.   "It will be overseen by the division's Walter Hamada and Dave Neustadter, along with Warners vp production Niija Kuykendall, who will also stay involved with the project."

Six Reasons It's Not So Good To Be A Constant Reader

image credit: blog.abdopublishing
I love reading Stephen King books.  There are many great things about being a constant reader.  But I've posted plenty of articles outlining those benefits.  But we should admit, there are a few drawbacks to being a Stephen King fan.  Here are a few:

1. Non-King readers think I'm reading really (REALLY) bad stuff.  

Hey, I don't endorse it all -- but for the most part, people who don't read King have bought into the idea that all he writes are scary novels full of bad words.  So I say to my friends, "You know, King also wrote the Green Mile."  This usually results in puzzled looks.  For real?  Stand By Me, The Shawshank Redemption, even the screenplay for Little House On The Prairie.  Throw that last one in just for fun.  if they didn't know he wrote the first three, and they find out you're right, they start to wonder if maybe he did indeed write Little House.

2. He's super famous.  

Is that a problem? Not really, except that it means he's in no way accessable to the average fan.  Look, if you want to talk to most authors,  you can write them a note, drop them an email and have a normal correspondence.  I talk to authors all the time!  This includes novelist, theologians, historians and more.  But once a writer reaches a certain level of popularity, they are no longer able to correspond with readers one on one.

There was a day -- many days ago  -- when you could mail Stephen King your copy of one of his books.  He would sign it and mail it back to you.  Those days are -- GONE!

3. There's brain damage.  

This is awkward to confess to, but Stephen King messes with my head.  Scenes from books are etched in my brain and flash before me at inopportune times.  Our church once did a Christmas play that had a scene in a child's bedroom.  The mother came into the room to pray with the child and discuss why daddy was deployed to Iraq.  But, the bedroom scene on the church stage had been set up right under the big sanctuary cross.  All I could think was -- CARRIE WHITE!  Stop it brain!  And thank you, Mr. King.

Most of the brain damage has to do with people.  Not a problem if a sweet, Godly, old lady reminds me of Mother Abagail.  But I've also met Mrs. White, Mrs. Carmody, and Reverend Coggins.  You can't say to people, "You remind me so much of this person from a Stephen King novel!"

4. I don't read first editions.

Are you crazy?  You can't read those things!  Not the Cemetery Dance first edition, anyway.  So then I have to buy two copies of new novels!  I once complained to my wife when she read my first edition of The Dark Tower.  "Come on, David," she shot  back, "I don't are if it's a first edition.  I've read six novels, I'm not waiting until this comes out in paperback to read it."  Sure enough, she didn't, and she smudged a page.  A SMUDGE!  She didn't see the problem.

Most often I fix this problem by buying the audio book and the hardcover.  That way I can listen to the book first, put the unread hardcover on my shelf, and patiently wait for the paperback.

5. I feel the need to correct people on obscure facts.

"I like Stephen King, too," someone will say.  "Especially the one with the haunted hotel, where  the guy chases his wife with an ax."

Do you leave that alone?  Dare I explain that my friend is discussing the Kubrick movie, not the King story.  Because  to most people, it doesn't matter.  But it does to me!

"Didn't he write the one about the house. . . what's it called?  Amityville. . ."
nooooo!!!  And this is a problem.  When friends say things that are wrong, how quickly should a King fan correct them?  How big a nerd do you really want others to know you are?  If you correct them too quickly, they  might say, "Hey, you know a little too much about Stephen King. Maybe you're getting a bit too obsessed."  Yeah, knock it off, redrum.

6. I have a love hate relationship with a lot of movies and television.

I can't wait for a movie version (or television) of a book I like to come out.  But I also know, I KNOW, that the likelihood of it being really very good is, well, not very good.  So do I stay away from the screen versions of King's work?  No way!  I've got to see them.  Sometimes I'm pleasantly surprised, like with Secret Window.  Often, it's a little painful.  (I offer you nothing here, because you all know the movie's I'm talkng about!)

What's worse, since King is mostly known for his media, non-King reading friends think they know King by his movies.  I went to watch Sleepwalkers with my dad.  Ulgh.  We left the theater with me trying to explain that didn't represent the Stephen King universe.  But now when he sees Stephen King on my shelves, he thinks Sleepwalkers.

BONUS: 7. He makes it look easy.

Of course I can write like Stephen King. It can't be hard, right?  Well, it  must be tougher than it looks, because I can't do it.  And there  are lots of people who try to write like King, an haven't mastered it.  He has a natural story-telling voice that speaks directly to the reader that cannot be matched.

Okay, your turn.  What's the down side of being a Constant Reader?

Stephen King vs The Walking Dead

Check out this 2012 article by author James A. West on Stephen King vs. The Walking Dead. (HERE)

West writes,
 Lately, I have been re-reading some of my favorites by Stephen King and immersing myself in the zombie apocalypse hit, The Walking Dead. Somehow the two got jumbled together in my mind, and I began to wonder what if, which culminated in the idea of Stephen King moving through the zombie-infested wasteland of the The Walking Dead. What follows are three of dozens of what if scenes.

Under The Influence

At his goodreads page, Stephen King lists the following writers as his inspiration: Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, Charles Dickens, Shirley Jackson, H.P. Lovecraft, John D. MacDonald, Richard Matheson, J.R.R. Tolkien

My book, Stephen King, A Face Among The Masters, discusses King and 5 of these writers and their connection to Stephen King:

  • Ray Bradbury in chapter 6, The Man Who Scared Stephen King.
  • Charles Dickens in chapter 3, Stephen King, A Modern Charles Dickens
  • H.P. Lovecraft in chapter 1, The Long Shadow Of Stephen King
  • Richard Matheson in chapter 5, Shivering Through The Twilight Zone
  • and J.R.R. Tolkien (briefly) in chapter 7, Dark Theologian.
I am surprised King did not list: Poe.

Best and Worst Stephen King Movies

My choices:
I'm writing my list BEFORE watching the television segment.  This is not really a ranking, just a list.

1. The Green Mile
2. Stand By Me
3. Carrie (DePalma)
4. Salem's Lot (mini-series)
5. Cujo
6. The Dead Zone
7. The Shawshank Redemption
8. Pet Sematary
9. Christine
10. Misery
11. The Shining (Kubrick)
12. The Dark Half
13. Creepshow
14. IT, episode 1 (mini-series)
15. The Stand (min-series)
16. Silver Bullet (mini-series)
17. The Night Flier
18. The Shining (mini-series)

1. Sleepwalkers
2. Children of the Corn.  (all of them.  ALL)
3. The Lawnmower Man
4. Maximum Overdrive
5. Graveyard Shift
6. IT, episode 2 (mini-series)
7. Cat's Eye
8. The Running Man
9. Needful things.
10. The Mangler
11. Desperation (I so wanted it to work)

Your turn. . . 

Gerald's Game To Be Adapted For Screen

DEADLINE has an article today announcing that  Gerald's Game is going to be brought to film by director Mike Flanagan.  With casting set to begin in the fall, Flanagan noted that Gerald's Game is in the "tradition" of Misery and Dolores Claiborne.  Flanagan called Gerald's Game, "one of the most intense and compelling novels I"ve ever read."

This seems like it would be one of King's more difficult novels to bring to screen, since most of it is about a woman tied to a bed.  When compared to Misery and Dolores Claiborne, my feeling is that Gerald's Game is by far the weaker offering.  We spend quite a bit of time waiting for simple things to happen.  Can she get water? And much of the book is flashbacks to childhood.  The book, like Dolores Claiborne, deals with the issue of child abuse;  a topic also addressed by King's classic, The Shining.

What do you think of Gerald's Game?

David Drayton, Dew Struzan and The Mist

In the film adaptation of The Mist,Thomas Jane plays David Drayton.  But there's a story behind the character.  Frank Darabont gave some added texture to the story by making Drayton an artist.  But not any artist!  He's Drew Struzan.

Drew who?  You might not recognize the name Drew Struzan, but you'd recognize his art.  He drew the posters for Blade Runner, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, ET, Harry Potter, The Walking Dead -- and something like 150 movie posters.  Sometimes his poster was better than the movie!

You  might recognize his work from a few Stephen King movies including The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile.

The Shawshank Redemption
Frank Darabont says about Struzan's work on the Shawshank Redemption that he is very collaborative.  "When we did the Shawshank art, there was definitely some conversation with him about what the elements should be," Darabont said.  "He took images that had been becoming iconic during the decade since (the book) had been released."

Now how does that connect to The Mist and David Drayton?

This is from the May 22, 2008 edition of the Los Angeles Times:
Frank Darabont is such a fan, he not only has tapped Struzan for pieces for "The Shawshank Redemption" and "The Green Mile," he has also made him a basis for Thomas Jane's lead character in last year's "The Mist." (Several of Struzan's originals were featured on-screen as set dressing.) 
Struzan's website says, "The Mist: The movie begins with David Drayton, the main character, hand painting a movie poster for an upcoming film. He is a poster artist. A collection of his other original works, including posters from The Thing, Shawshank Redemption, Pan's Labyrinth, Green Mile and other paintings actually by drew can be seen in his studio. He is painting a picture known immediately to Stephen King fans to be for his The Dark Tower. This is the original painting created for the film."

Dark Tower, The (The Mist)
Medium: Acrylic paints and colored pencils on gessoed board

A documentary about Struzan appeared at ComicCon.  The documentary includes interviews with Stephen Spielberg, George Lucas, Guillermo del Toro, Leonard Maltin and many others.  It is currently on Netflix.

Frank Darabont decorated the set of The Mist with artwork from Struzan's studio.  Further, Struzman gave Thomas Jane tips on how to actually look like a painter so he could, "look authentic" in the film.  "I portrayed Drew," Jane said.  "He wouldn't let me leave until I got it just perfect," Jane commented.  "At the premier of the film, Drew said, 'No, no that wasn't right."  He did everything wrong, Struzman said!  Jane notes that he has  nailed all kinds of difficult roles, but he couldn't play Drew Struzman for thrity seconds.

Dark Tower Maps

Here are some great Dark Tower maps I found at thestrangersbookshelf

Link: Lilja's Library Posting STEPHEN KING AND THE SIMPSONS is my favorite Stephen King website.  Today, he posted a great article on Stephen King and The Simpsons.  Lilja writes:
The new King Simpson’s figurine got me thinking. King and Matt Groening (the creator of The Simpsons) both played in the band The Rock Bottom Remainders and I know Matt used King and his books several times in the show. Here are a few, maybe you know more?

Go check out the article, and the youtube video's he compiled.

Let's Talk SHOP

With a new TNT series set to come to television titled, The Shop, it seems appropriate to revisit what the Shop is.
Formal Name: The Department of Scientific Intelligence 
Location: Longmont, Virginia
The Shop is a mysterious government institution that is featured in Stephen King's novel, Firestarter. The Shop is headed up by Captain James Hollister, better known as Cap. It is a heavily guarded scientific institution backed up by a few not-so-nice hit men. Of course, the first handful of hit men turn out to be completely incompetent! (Namely, my already mentioned, a killer named O.J. go figure!)

The Stephen King Universe has an entire section that looks at stories that incorporate The Shop. The book notes,
"Two observations can be made. First, though operating in the prime reality, the Shop seems to share certain facets with the low men in yellow coats from Rolands reality (Hearts in Atlantis). Second, if there are thinnies between the prime reality and any of the others, the shop is almost certainly aware of them." (SK Universe 248)
King says this about Shop headquarters in Fire Starter:
Two handsome Southern plantation homes faced each other across a long and rolling grass lawn that was crisscrossed by a few gracefully looping bike paths and a two lane crushed-gravel drive that came over the hill from the main road. Off to one side of one of these houses was the hill from the main road. off to one side of one of these houses was a large barn, painted bright red and trimmed spotless white. Near the other was a long stable, done in the same handsome red with white trim. Some of the best horseflesh in the South was quartered here. between the barn and the stable was a wide, shallow duckpond, calmly reflecting the sky. 
In the 1860's, the original owners of these two homes had gone off and got themselves killed in the war, and all survivors of both families were dead now. The two estates had been consolidated into one piece of government property in 1954. It was Shop headquarters. (Fire Starter, p.63)

The Shop appears in:
  1. Firestarter
  2. The Tommyknockers
  3. Golden years
  4. The langoliers

The Shop Crossovers:
  • THE LANGOLIERS (Four Past Midnight)—FIRESTARTER“The Shop” is mentioned in The Langoliers. Presumably the same “Shop” as in Firestarter.
  • THE TALISMAN—FIRESTARTER The Rainbird Towers, a New York condominium complex, is mentioned in "The Talisman." Rainbird is the name of The Shop operative assigned to Charlie McGee in "Firestarter." 
  • THE TOMMYKNOCKERS—FIRESTARTER: After all the excitement was over in The Tommyknockers, “The Shop” came to Haven to investigate.
The Shop Lives On

EW reported that TNT is developing a new series called, "The Shop."  It is based  on Stephen King's 1980 novel, Firestarter. Twenty years after the events in the novel, Charlie is tracked down and introduced to a group of people who have special abilities.

“It turns out The Shop is very much alive, bigger and badder than ever, and its dark experiments are unleashing terrifying new entities on the world. It’s now up to Talbot, Charlie and the rest of the team to find The Shop and destroy it for good.” (Source:

TNT Developing THE SHOP

EW reports that TNT is developing a new series called, "The Shop."  It is based  on Stephen King's 1980 novel, Firestarter.  Sporting the tagline, "TNT Drama.  Boom," to emphasize  that the network wants to focus on thrill.

Jim Hibberd explains the story will focus on the evil agency, The Shop, that tried to capture poor Charlie McGee in the original novel.  20 years later, Charlie is tracked down and introduced to a group of people who have special abilities.  (thinking Haven?)
“It turns out The Shop is very much alive, bigger and badder than ever, and its dark experiments are unleashing terrifying new entities on the world. It’s now up to Talbot, Charlie and the rest of the team to find The Shop and destroy it for good.”

Netflix Loves Stephen King

I hate commercials.  Thus, I love netflix.  And netflix loves Stephen King.  Recent offerings have included The Stand, Bag Of Bones and more.

What's strange is that I have all these on DVD, minus Haven, but I still prefer netflix.  Because who really wants to mess with a disk?

This month includes:

  • Haven, based on Stephen King's The Colorado Kid.  It might be time for me to come back to this great show!
  • Maximum Overdirve.  Ya, I'll be watching that one again, too.  Actually, I love this film!  It's not a good film -- it's a great film.  A great bad film; which is the best.  Why is this not a Mystery Science Theater 3000? WHY!  It takes a special kind of movie to be worthy of that gangs razzing.
  • The Running Man.  One of those movies I watch over and over, thinking, "it's got to get better."
  • Bag of Bones.  This is actually a show I liked more the first time than I have on subsequent viewings.  
  • The Langoliers.  Trying watching it with the fast forward button on.
  • Children of the Corn.  The original that started it all, which is the real horror.
  • Thinner.  Which could be easily titled, "Misery" -- except a better movie already has that name.
  • Golden Years.  If you haven't watched it, you should.

Stephen King Books That Make Great Bedtime Reading

I know some of you will say "all of them."  But which Stephen King books are actually best to curl up with late at night?  Are there certain books you prefer to read before bed?

My list:
1. Books ABOUT Stephen King.  It's true.  I'm more likely to read books that discuss King's books than I am to actually read a Stephen King book.

2. Short books.  I'm not very daring right before I fall asleep.  So novella's and short stories fall nicely into this category.  Only -- I have a confession.  Don't hate me, okay?  I'm not really a short story guy.  It's an odd relationship.  Some of them are great, but it's difficult to invest time, knowing the relationship won't last.  Novella's are just perfect, though.  Satisfying, without requiring a lot of commitment.

The Mist, The Langoliers, 1922, A Good Marriage, Blockade Billy are a few of my favorites.

3. Books I just can't part with.  I read The Stand day and night because I just couldn't stop.

4. Booklets and paperbacks.  Those little parts of the Green Mile were great bedtime reading.

So what Stephen King books do you prefer before falling asleep?

P.S., I know some of you want that bed.

Steven Petite Calls THE STAND A 20th Century Classic

In his Huffington Post article, "Taking The Stand For Stephen King," Steven Petite makes the argument that Stephen King is more than a popular genre writer -- but a truly "great" writer.

Petite notes that King is often underrated, though he has received numerous awards that should break him out of the horror mold.

Petite steps out to make a bold statement; one book alone is strong enough to be considered a 20th century "classic."  And he isn't talking about The Shining.  The Stand, Petite argues, is a truly great novel.  "In 1991," he writes, "The Stand should have been considered for the Pulitzer and the National Book Award."
The Stand is without a doubt one of the greatest stories ever told. He may be considered the greatest genre writer alive, and his books are likely to be read for hundreds of years, most likely surpassing some of the nominees for both awards in 1991.
Is appreciate a voice out there ready to call not only King a great writer, but his work "classic" literature.  For too long we've assumed popular equaled trash.  The truth is, most great books were popular when released.   Naturally, some writers, like Poe, were not really praised until later; but it's not like Charles Dickens was only discovered after he died!

Sometimes a writers own peer group, reading public and critics begin to recognize that something special is going on here.  That's what Petite hones in on.  He writes, 

"My reading habits primarily are of the "literary" nature, but Stephen King's knowledge of literature, his grasp of storytelling, and the art that he creates are worth taking a stand for, because without Stephen King, the book industry would be vastly different today."
Is The Stand that strong?  I think Petite has hit the nail on the head; it is indeed.   Has King done better than The Stand?  That's up for debate, isn't it?  IT, The Green Mile, 11/22/63 and The Shining should all rate up there as truly great novels.  But the Stand is special to us.
What makes The Stand so much fun?  It’s a modern telling of the end of the world.  The apocalypse comes right down to us.  It’s our New York and our Los Angeles. It all comes to an end thanks to a government created plague the West Coast calls Captain Trips.  A long, sprawling novel, The Stand has lots of little cubbyholes–pockets of story that are a world of their own within the larger story.  (Stephen King A Face Among The Masters)
More than just being fun, King dives into other authors worlds and plays with their toys.  With The Stand, King even dabbled in the world of Poe.  -- but I'm saving that for the book.

Read Steve Petite's full article at:

Check out Steve Petite's book, The Concept Of Home at
Today is Steve's birthday,  which means he has dropped the kindle edition to 99 cents.  You can't really beat that.
A coming of age tale starring Porter Wallace: A failed writer who needs to find a purpose for his existence. After giving up on writing, he embarks on a journey to rediscover life, love, and the true meaning of home. He burns bridges along the way, learns from mentors and uncovers secrets as his quest to become a writer again turns out to be secondary to his home.

CARRIE musical original commercial

The original TV promo for the 1988 Carrie musical.

Mr. Mercedes Drives Toward The Big Screen

Madison Barnes at The Tracking Board posted news that the rights to Mr. Mercedes have been bought by Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey.  Of course, the novel hasn't even hit a store shelf yet.

Barnes offers this ominous tagline to her summery of the novel, "If you’ve never looked at a Mercedes Benz and felt the the imposing chill of death… you soon will!"

Jack Bender is set to direct the film.  Bender is known for work on “Lost,” “Alias,” “Under the Dome” and “The Sopranos.”

Barnes writes:
The producers are currently meeting with writers as they aggressively continue development on King’s story. Were it any other writer, I would say the reception of the book may be a hinderance for development, but who are we kidding? King’s fascinating horror stories have kept readers and audiences enthralled for decades, starting all the way back with “Carrie” and “The Shining,” in the late ’70s/early ’80s. You probably don’t even realize how many other movies and television series have been based on his extensive writings, including “The Shawshank Redemption,” “The Green Mile,” “Hearts in Atlantis,” “Stand by Me,” and even “Secret Window” (to name a few). He also has over 20 films currently in development, including “The Dark Tower,” “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon,” “Doctor Sleep,” and remakes of “Children of the Corn,” “Firestarter,” and “It.”

Full Story:

There Once Was A Musical Named Carrie

Not to be confused  with the current musical -- in 1988 there was a musical attempt at Carrie. The musical opened on Broadway May 12, 1988 and closed 3 days later. The show only ran a total of 16 previews and 5 performances. (FIVE!)

Playbill offers an interesting retrospective on the musical at (Be sure to view the  photo gallery)

Mothers In The Stephen King Universe

Do you have a favorite mother from the Stephen King universe?  I wrote down a few special ladies. . . but tell me, who’s your favorite?

Here are a few mothers King has given us:

  • Margaret White.  Like her or not, you’ve got to admit she was a powerful force in Carrie’s life and one of the driving characters in the plot of Carrie.  She is abusive, crazy and a religious nut.  The lady has the crazy idea that it was because Adam and Eve  had sex that they got thrown out the garden.  Wow!  I guess she missed the part where they were married!  We watch with interest as Carrie stands up to her mother and seeks to stretch her wings, even if it brings discipline and disapproval.  It is that Carrie is finally moving away from Mama that makes it so heartbreaking when her "friends" humiliate her.  
  • Wendy Torrance.  It’s hard for me to get a handle on this character.  Partly because both times she was portrayed on screen, it was very different.  Also, there is the book, which added another layer of complexity to her character.  She makes an appearance, if mostly passing, in Doctor Sleep.  She is for the most part pretty passive.  She takes Jack’s abuse until it is unbearable.  Notice how many King novels deal with violence in the home.  Also  think of those sad little swiped Wendy takes a Jack on the steps, hoping he'll back away.
  • Rachel Creed.  Traumatized by the death of her sister, and the dark events that surround the novel, Rachel Creed spends a lot of time balancing between pleasing her father and her husband.  She is caught in the middle of a small family feud. when her son Gage dies.
  • Donna Trenton.  When we first meet Donna she is involved in an affair, but is soon fighting for her life and the life of her son.   
  • Rose Madder.  This book also deals with abuse, but I haven't read it yet.  

Dolores Claiborne

So who gets mother of the year?  My mother, of course.  Oh wait, in the Stephen King universe. . . I nominate Dolores Claiborne.

She is feisty, strong willed, something of a country bumpkin – I think she’s great!  Here’s why:

Dolores Claiborne is the picture of a mothers love.  It is powerful!  This independent lady did what she had to in order to protect her child.  Dolores worked hard to earn money for her daughter, hoping to give her something she herself never got.  When she discovers her abusive drunk of a husband has been stealing from the account and molesting her daughter, she lays plans to do him in.  How she carries out her plot is brilliant!

Did Joe get what he deserved?  You bet!  And through it’s outright murder, the reader spends the book rooting for Dolores.
Often when women show a strong or determined side of themselves, they are misunderstood by men.  “There she goes…,”  “Must be that time of month,” and so on. Dolores Claiborne is told from a woman’s point of view. Dolores is tough as nails—or so you would think.  But that strength comes because at heart she is a mama bear. She is ready to do whatever she has to in order to protect her daughter. She can’t physically win a fight with him, so she lays a brilliant trap.  (From: Stephen King, A Face Among The Masters)

In this book, King takes on the difficult subject of child abuse.  He does it skillfully – brilliantly.  Dolores doesn't ignore the issue, as some spouses of abusers are known to do.  Sally Mahout in Gerald's Game figures out that her husband is acting inappropriately with her daughter -- but does not do anything about it.  Dolores is made of a different cloth!  When she fully realizes what is going on, she takes matters into her own hands.

One person who indicated this was their favorite novel because they also had been abused, wrote on Stephen King’s message board:
I so wish my mother had dispatched my abuser the way Dolores took care of Joe. As it was, she did the best she could after she found out what happened, but the person who abused me did not end up paying a price for it. I asked my parents not to tell anyone, and since I hadn't been raped ("Has he f$%^ed her yet, Dolores?") they agreed. Now that I'm older and wiser I wish I had pursued it further. I have no idea how many other girls were victims after me, and that thought torments me now. 
I just wanted to post this because I find it remarkable that Stephen King could so perfectly depict that relationship between Dolores and Selina, and that he could so accurately show what happens to children who are molested. I've watched the movie several times, and I never get tired of the scene where Selina tells Dolores "I don't know how I feel about what you did, but I know you did it for me."
The picture of Dolores “mothering” goes on as she cares for icky Vera.  She becomes more than a house keeper, she becomes Vera’s friend.  Her strong mothering skills kick in even when doing what is best for Vera.

So, who do you think should make mother of the year from the Stephen King universe?

Larry Fire Shows His Love For Stephen King

Check out Comic Book Resources look at Larry Fire's office -- and in particular his love for Stephen King (and their common love for Batman.)

This is a nice collection!

Fire writes: "I have collected Stephen King books since 1983. He’s my favorite author and I’m also a fan of his son, Joe Hill. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting both authors on numerous occasions and they are wonderful talented friendly people."

The Shining Scared King

10,000 Magazines, #9993
People Weekly, March 7, 1977

Tame warp back to 1977.  People Magazine is where you would have to go to find out about celebrities; because there was no google.   Funny thing, the magazine pictures are in black and white -- except the ads.

Frank Sleeper's article about King was written just as the Shining was published, and a novel about "a flu" was being edited.  

"It's the first time I was actually scared as I was  writing," says Stephen King, 29, about his latest chiller, The Shining.  The novel set in the shuttered Colorado resort hotel filled with menacing spirits centers on the father who is unable  to control his rages."
The article discusses King's sudden wealth, and the trappings that go with it -- via 1977.  That would be an uh, color TV!

I like these old magazines with King articles because it gives us glimpses of things a little closer to when they happened.  So King discussing his work on The Shining is a little different in 1977 than it is in 2014.  It was still fresh. And, as you'll see in the quotes below, it was pretty raw.

"I felt very hostile to my children there," says King.  "I wanted to grab them and hit them.  Even though I didn't do it, I had severe guilt feelings because of my brutal impulses."  
Four years ago King was earning 6,700 a year teaching English at the Hampden Academy in Hampden Maine.  He and his family were living in a trailer and his car was ready for the junk yard.  "We had taken our phone out, because we couldn't pay for it," says King. He was moonlighting in an industrial laundry.  "There was a woman whom I met at the laundry, very strange, always quoting the Bible," says King.  "I thought, if she has children, I wonder what they're like.  That's where I got my idea for Carrie."   
King got a $2,500 advance for it, and movie rights sold for $35,000 plus a percentage of the movie gross.  The paperback rights brought him another $200,000.  "Tabby cried," King recalls.  "We called all our relatives.  It took eight months for it to sink it."
In 1975 Salem's Lot, a nightmarish tale about vampires taking over a Maine community, achieved another hefty paperback sale and a movie price of $250,000. 
 The two books have sold over three million copies, and King now reigns as the book world prince of horror.  "Money actually makes you a little saner," says King.  "You don't have to do the things you don't want to do."  
His success has not slowed his productivity.  He writes for two hours each morning and has finished a fourth novel about a spooky flu epidemic.  "My wife reads everything," he says.  "I set a lot of store by her opinion.  I think Carrie is her favorite because once, when gave up on it, and threw it int he waste basket, she fished it out.  She told me it was terrific."   
Born in Portland Maine, King recalls a hardscrabble early life.  His father, a merchant mariner, left King's mother when the boy was two.  Steve, an English major, graduated from the University of Maine, where he met Tabitha, who was studying history.  Except for their $150,000 three bedroom house in Bridgton Maine, the King's live a fairly modest life. "But we certainly have more material things than before -- a Cadillac, a four year old color TV," says millionaire King.  "We go to the movies.  We swim in the summer.  We went to Hawaii for a couple of weeks, and we went Florida."  
King likes to ski cross-country and play the guitar and a friendly game of poker. He takes pills to keep his high blood pressure under control.  He also munches on aspirin to ease his migraines.  "They are strictly a work symptom," he says.  
On a personal note -- I'm sitting in a hospital room with my wife, who is reading me this article.  She's here for high blood pressure.  She paused when she read that, raising an eyebrow.
For King writing horror fiction is like psycho analyzing yourself in public.  "I'm externalizing my own fears and those of many others," he says.  He admits a few of his literary predecessors -- like Poe and Bram Stoker -- were peculiar types.  But insists, "I'm the nicest sort of fellow you'd want to me."
Someone ought to write a book discussing King and Poe. 

The Most Frightening Book Stephen King Has Ever Written

This is reposted from William Malmborg's websit ( with permission.

William Malmborg is the author of Text MessageDark HarvestNikkis Secret and several other horror novels.

So, I was standing at my bookshelf the other day looking at some early printings of Stephen King paperbacks when I noticed the back cover pictured to the left. As you can see, rather than having a book description or author photo, the designers of this edition decided upon a statement from Publishers Weekly, one that boldly shouted, “The most frightening book Stephen King has ever written.” Naturally, this got me wondering which books fans found frightening, and whether or not there is any agreement from everyone upon a single title that stands above the rest. Personally, I’ve never really been frightened by anything Stephen King has written. This isn’t due to any fault with his writing; I just came upon his fiction at a point in my life when reading no longer had the ability to frighten me. Of course, this wasn’t always the case. 

As a pre and young teen, stories had the ability to produce sleepless nights, my mom and grandmother often putting this to the test with stories they found scary and wanted to share -- or wrote themselves. Even at fifteen, I was once startled by the opening of a Dean Koontz novel titled Tick Tock, but that was the last time this has really happened, and by the time I started reading Stephen King at the age of seventeen, my mind was completely desensitized to fear. 

 Ironically, I can remember a time as a young kid when just the idea or plot behind a Stephen King novel would terrify me. The Shining was a perfect example of this. I don’t remember how old I was, but at some point during my grade school years my Mom told me about the The Shining and how, as a young girl, while reading it during a train ride to Kansas, suddenly began to smell oranges. Anyone who has read The Shining will understand the significance of this and why the moment would startle a young teen reader. As it turns out, the lady next to my Mom was peeling an orange. Another story element that chilled me to the core as a kid was the idea of a clown in the sewer, which a friend told me about after he saw the movie IT on TV. That was spooky, and, for a while, after hearing about that, I made sure to keep a good distance between curbside sewers and my walking paths. I also found the idea of a secret graveyard where pets came back to life mean and angry terrifying, and hoped to god things like that didn’t really exist because I would have hated to see my dog Leo return from the grave at some point only to be a darker version of his former self. The hardcover image of Desperation startled me as well. I saw that one sitting on the bookshelf at a friend house right after its release -- his parents were Stephen King fans -- and thought to myself that I would never be brave enough to start reading such a book. How funny is that?

Now, if I had to pick a book that I considered the most frightening even though it didn’t really scare me, that book would have to be Misery simply because finding oneself in such a situation would be horrible. It’s also plausible. This isn’t to say I discount the possibility of supernatural story-lines -- I may be a skeptic, but only in the sense that I don’t blindly believe everything I hear, and always let the facts and evidence of each situation determine what is really occurring -- but with Misery, this is the type of story that can easily move from being a tale of fiction to one of non-fiction without blinking an eye. Crazy people are out there.  We read about them every day in the paper (well, online news sources), and hear about them on the news (when they aren’t focusing on some stupid political or sport sex scandal. Another tale that has frightening elements would have to be The Stand. The idea of a virus leaving our current civilization in ruins has almost become a touchstone experience thanks to Hollywood, but that doesn’t mean it isn't a plausible scenario, one that has occurred time and time again throughout history. Such events are just a fact of life, though, thankfully, one that isn’t experienced by every generation.

With those two titles established as the Stephen King tales that I find the most frightening what are some of yours? Are their any titles that completely stand above the rest in your mind? Feel free to comment here about it, or, if you want, send me a guest post that I can share with readers (email me at with the subject matter being GUEST POST STEPHEN KING). Also, anyone want to venture a guess as to what book the picture above was taken from?