Master of suspense and horror, author Stephen King has captivated audiences with the idea of his story Under the Dome. His thrilling novel was brought to life by CBS and was a ratings blockbuster as a series last summer. The network just premiered the second season with the first episode written by King, who is an executive producer on the show. Plus, King thrilled his fans by doing a cameo as one of the unlucky folks caught under the mysterious dome that seals off the volatile town of Chester’s Mill. Under the Dome stars Dean Norris (of Breaking Bad fame), Mike Vogel, Rachelle Lefevre, Britt Robertson, Colin Ford, Mackenzie Lintz, and Alexander Koch.
King’s stories have become mega-sellers, big hit movies, and TV shows. He attributes much of that to a crop of fans who grew up with “such television series as Twilight Zone and Star Trek. They have influenced this current boomer generation, who seem to have a lot more acceptance of fantasy themes, ghost themes, make-believe, science fiction and a whole range of other worldly subjects.”
Upcoming, he has a movie based on his novella “Big Driver” airing on Lifetime this fall. The Syfy network series Haven is going into its fifth season and is based on his novel The Colorado Kid.
At 66, King keeps busy. His first “hardboiled detective novel” called Mr. Mercedes just came out. Other recent projects include his novel Joyland, released in print to raves. It’s a dark ride as the coming-of-age summer tale is set in an amusement park. The prolific author also has Doctor Sleep, the long-awaited sequel to his classic The Shining. It’s a battle of good and evil, and follows the grown up Dan Torrance, still haunted by his demons.
King reports, “I like to scare people, but I also like to make them laugh. I like to entertain people. I’ve written some scary things, but I’ve also written some other things, too. You get a reputation and you’ve got it the rest of your life. I’m not interested in just being a ‘scream machine,’ although every novel is intended to frighten the reader, or at least give him something to ponder. But I like to write scary books.” His first published novel was the horror classic Carrie in 1973.
He admits, “I don’t know where my ‘darkness’ comes from. I sit down to write, and out it comes. I can’t explain it. It’s the only thing I can do. Books are my outlet. I try to think up ways to get the reader involved and be really upset. I want them to lock their doors, worry, and not be able to sleep. I like that. It gives me a feeling of power.”
King’s personal writing regimen has him working on so many pages every morning “and then I take off at noon.” But during those few hours he churns out all kinds of material, and not just horror stories. He reminds that his The Green Mile was not a true horror tale, and went on to become an impressive film with Tom Hanks and Michael Clarke Duncan.
His writing, he swears, “isn’t for the money. I just like to write. I started writing as a kid, after I did my homework, and I don’t feel I will ever stop. I love what I’m doing.” But King warns would-be authors “there is no such thing as a free lunch. That is not the way the world works. I can’t pass on any inspiration. Just believe in your dreams and work hard.”
In an interview we did years ago, King told me his best advice for kids is “eat your green vegetables.” He also reports when his kids were young one of his favorite “dad things” was coaching his sons’ Little League teams “and teaching them to become Boston Red Sox fans.”