Tag Archives: Stephen King

‘The Murder of Stephen King’ novel pulled from release

James Patterson decided that an upcoming novel, “The Murder of Stephen King,” wasn’t a good idea after all and is having the scheduled Nov. 1 publication withdrawn.

In a statement released this month through Little, Brown and Company, Patterson said he didn’t want to cause King or his family “any discomfort.”

The book was intended as a tribute to King, a King-like story of an obsessed fan out to get the writer.

But Patterson, who co-authored the 150-page novel with Derek Nikitas, said he had learned that fans in real life had “disrupted” King’s home.

“My book is a positive portrayal of a fictional character, and, spoiler alert, the main character is not actually murdered,” he said. “Nevertheless, I do not want to cause Stephen King or his family any discomfort. Out of respect for them, I have decided not to publish ‘The Murder of Stephen King.’”

Despite the jarring title and Patterson’s best-seller status, the novel ranked just No. 30,491 on Amazon.com.

King had no involvement with the book and declined to comment when asked about it by The Associated Press.

Patterson told the AP last week that he and King don’t know each other, although there is some public history between them.

In a 2009 interview with USA Weekend, King said Patterson was “a terrible writer but he’s very successful.”

Patterson, speaking to the AP, shrugged off the remarks as “hyperbole.”

The novel about King was a featured work in the prolific Patterson’s BookShots series of brief, inexpensive fiction.

As a replacement, he will be releasing the novel “Taking the Titanic” in November.

Stephen King ponders death in new 21-story ‘Bazaar of Bad Dreams’

Stephen King has always addressed his “Constant Readers” in prefaces or afterwords to his books. He likes to share what inspired him or what he was thinking about when he wrote it.

But with the release of “The Bazaar of Bad Dreams,” King takes it to another level. Each of the 21 works of fiction in the collection features at least a paragraph, sometimes a few pages, from the author introducing it or sharing some detail to enhance reader appreciation.

Or as he writes in an invocation to his “bazaar”: “Everything you see is handcrafted, and while I love each and every item, I’m happy to sell them because I made them especially for you. Feel free to examine them, but please be careful. The best of them have teeth.”

The most toothsome of the bunch are “Morality,” an exploration of how far someone will go for a payday, and the longest of the lot, a 60-page tale called “Ur” that mocks today’s Kindle culture and contains more than a few veiled references to King’s beloved Dark Tower mythology.

This being King, there’s lots of death in these pages. And while there’s a smattering of the supernatural — n abandoned car on the Maine turnpike whose grill does more than catch bugs — there are also quite a few mediations on mortality. “Afterlife” tells the story of a man who dies from colon cancer and gets to keep living the same life; “Obits” mocks the TMZ-ification of media, featuring a columnist who can kill people by writing their obituaries in advance; and “Under the Weather” tells the story of an adman who can convince anyone of anything, including that his wife is just like the title says.

King fans will find a few clunkers here as well, according to their taste. I personally didn’t care for the two bits of poetry in the collection. King acknowledges in one of his intros that he’s a born novelist and that even short stories are a challenging discipline for him, so why bother sharing a few scraps of verse?

All in all, though, it’s a meaty collection with interesting insights into the creative process of a writer who caused many sleepless nights. Well worth keeping on your bedside table for those evenings when, as King puts it: “… sleep is slow to come and you wonder why the closet door is open, when you know perfectly well that you shut it.”

Stephen King wins mystery award

Stephen King isn’t only a master of horror. He’s also a man of mystery.

King and Gillian Flynn were among the winners this week at the 69th annual Edgar Awards, presented by the Mystery Writers of America. King’s crime story “Mr. Mercedes” received the best novel prize at the ceremony in midtown Manhattan. King has been an Edgar “Grand Master” since 2007 and his novel “Joyland” was a finalist last year for paperback original. 

Flynn, best known for her million-selling “Gone Girl,” won in the short story category for “What Do You Do?”

William Mann’s Hollywood expose “Tinseltown” won for best “Fact Crime.” J.W. Ocker won in the critical/biographical category for a book about the author for whom the Edgars are named. “Poe-Land: The Hallowed Haunts of Edgar Allan Poe.”

Stephen King returns to true horror in ‘Revival’

Remember when Stephen King announced that he was retiring? That was more than a decade and at least six books ago, and he’s done nothing but crank out best-sellers ever since.

The latest novel — likely to be No. 1 next week — is appropriately titled “Revival,” for it marks a return to true horror for the modern master of the genre. There are no soul-sucking vampires as in “Doctor Sleep,” or speculative historical fiction about the assassination of John F. Kennedy as in “11/22/63.”

“Revival” spans half a century, but at its heart are a young boy — Jamie Morton — and a New England pastor named the Rev. Charles Jacobs who captivates him from the moment they meet in 1962.

The plot is set in motion when the good reverend starts to heal the sick using something he calls an “Electrical Nerve Stimulator.” Over the years, as he ducks in and out of narrator Jamie’s life, he learns how to harness electricity to a greater and greater degree until he’s literally ready to revive the dead.

It’s no fun spoiling all the scares, but here’s a phrase — spoken by Jacobs to Jamie early in the novel — that neatly sums it up: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions. And lit with electric lights.”

King fans won’t find anything to complain about here. At just over 400 pages it’s one of his quicker reads and any hint of the supernatural is blended with tender moments that ground the characters. “Home is the place where they want you to stay longer,” narrates Jamie as he returns to the Maine town where his doomed relationship with Jacobs began. If this is your first King novel, it’s not a bad choice. You don’t need to know anything about his oeuvre coming in, and if you like the writing style, there are dozens of other King books you’ll probably enjoy.

On the Web



‘Carrie’ throws a blood-red light on bullying’s horrors

Whether in reference to Stephen King’s 1974 novel or either of the two film versions, the name “Carrie” instantly conjures images of a homely high school outcast covered in pig’s blood terrorizing her tormentors with telekinetic powers. Soon fans will be able to add singing and dancing to that visceral image.

Theatre Unchained’s production of Carrie: The Musical opens Oct. 10, just in time for the Halloween season’s horror binge. But the musical also offers a strong anti-bullying message, according to director Thomas Jacobsen.

“Bullying is a serious issue that, as uncomfortable as it is to discuss, demands our attention,” he says. “I think that is why Carrieis such a chilling piece of literature.”

In the play, Carrie White (Anna Pfefferkorn) is the only daughter of an abandoned mother (Liz Norton), whose fundamentalist fervor has flowered into full-blown psychosis. Her high school classmates endlessly abuse Carrie. When she experiences her first period in the shower after gym, the abuse ratchets to a fever pitch. At the story’s climax, she’s mockingly crowned as prom queen, then bathed in blood poured from the gym rafters.

Unfortunately for the bullies, Carrie has destructive telekinetic powers. With a few blinks of the eye, she conjures the ultimate revenge.

“You look at Carrie and see someone that could’ve been you, and that connection stimulates a lot of the terror in this piece,” Jacobsen says. “In lieu of horror fiction that attempts to scare audiences with shock and gore, this Halloween season we are hoping to haunt audiences with something far more harrowing — a story that reflects the realistic horror of bullying.”

That’s not to say Carrie: The Musical doesn’t provide some fun along the way to making its points, including a pop score by composer Michael Gore and lyricist Dean Pitchford, who are best known for their collaboration on the musical Fame. Lawrence D. Cohen, who adapted King’s novel for the 1976 Brian DePalma film starring Sissy Spacek, wrote the show’s libretto. 

Despite its artistic pedigree, the original 1988 version of the musical opened to bad reviews and a very short run. The show was reimagined, and a new version opened in 2012 to a much better response, Jacobsen says.

“The 2012 version maintains some of the material from the (original) show, but it has also seen a number of improvements, including new songs and re-worked scenes that improve the show and make it more accessible to modern-day audiences,” the director says. “Furthermore, much of the camp humor that made the show infamous was removed from the book.”

The music runs the gamut from rock opera to pop ballads, depending upon whether Carrie is confronting her high school tormentors or her mother, who torments Carrie in a different way.

“Carrie is a more realistic portrayal of horror than Sweeney Todd, which obscures some of its darker elements with humor,” Jacobsen says.

Carrie’s telekinetic powers will be on full display in Theatre Unchained’s production, complete with books opening, chairs moving and doors slamming shut.

“The prom scene will also incorporate a variety of effects, including moving objects, sparks and dry ice,” says Jacobsen. “Making these special effects appear realistic onstage is a challenge, but one that we are excited to undertake.”

There also is, of course, the blood, and lots of it. Unlike the recent touring production of Evil Dead: The Musical, which played in Madison in September, there is no “splatter zone” to enable audience members to share viscerally in the production. Jacobsen plans to keep his audiences clean while fully saturating his actors.

“After quite a bit of research, the production team decided to move forward with making our own stage blood in two different varieties,” Jacobsen says. “As an homage to the 1976 film, we will be dumping a gallon of blood on Carrie each night, using the original formula of corn syrup and red food dye.”

The crew has concocted a washable mixture of laundry detergent and red children’s paint to use on costumes the director can’t afford to permanently stain. And, the director says, the bloodletting will be blocked so no audience members take home unwanted red souvenirs.

The musical stays surprisingly close to the book rather than the film versions, with some obvious exceptions. Onstage, Carrie doesn’t set the town on fire and cause stones to rain down from the sky. The play’s close association with the novel is what Jacobsen likes most about the show.

“As a Stephen King fan myself, I have taken most of my inspiration for characters and costumes from the original novel, as opposed to the films,” he says. “There is a reason the novel is considered a horror classic, and I wanted to use it as a reference point to stage the best show possible.”

On Stage

Theatre Unchained’s production of Carrie: The Musical runs Oct. 10–26 at 1024 S. Fifth St., Milwaukee. For more information, visit theatreunchained.com or call 414-391-7145.

Hulu plans series based on Stephen King’s ’11/22/63′

The internet TV service Hulu plans to stream a nine-hour series based on Stephen King’s time-travel book about the Kennedy assassination.

Hulu announced its plan for “11/22/63,” produced by King and J.J. Abrams, on Sept. 22.

King said in a statement that if any of his works cried out for “long-form, event TV programming,” then “11/22/63” is it.

In the 2011 novel, a high school teacher goes back in time to try to prevent the killing of President John F. Kennedy by Lee Harvey Oswald.

The release date for the series was not announced. The cast also was not announced by Hulu or Warner Bros. Television.

A look at the new books offered this fall, fiction, non-fiction and in-between

So many memoirs are coming out this fall, written in so many ways.

Neil Patrick Harris, for instance, decided that his early 40s was too young for a “life” story, even for a Tony- and Emmy-winning actor. So he has completed “Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography,” in which Harris steps back into the second person to allow you to imagine yourself onstage, on television, or, in November 2006, on edge as you prepare to tell the world you’re gay. 

“I couldn’t wrap my mind around a structure that made sense to me — to pass on words of wisdom or to write some salacious tell-all. My life hasn’t been like that,” Harris said during a recent interview.

“So I came upon this conceit of ‘choose your own adventure,’ to allow readers to choose which autobiography they were interested in. You can have poignancy; you can have funny remembrances, or whatever path you want to follow.”

Lena Dunham of “Girls” fame has written “Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s ‘Learned,’” a non-advice advice book in which she hopes that readers will know when and when not to emulate “a girl with a keen interest in having it all.” Amy Poehler’s “Yes Please” promises a “big juicy stew of personal stories, funny bits on sex and love and friendship and parenthood and real life advice.”

Keith Richards, having taken care of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll in his million-selling “Life,” turns sentimental with the picture book “Gus and Me,” a tribute to his grandfather, musician Gus Dupree. Neil Young honors a favorite hobby in “Special Deluxe”: cars. “Jimmy Page” is a “photographic autobiography” by the Led Zeppelin guitarist. “Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story” is not entirely in his own words, alternating between first-person memories and third-person accounts by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author-journalist Rick Bragg.

Former President George W. Bush already has written a memoir, “Decision Points,” so for his new book (currently untitled) he tells the story of his father, George H.W. Bush. “Steve Jobs” author Walter Isaacson returns to the virtual world with “The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution.”

Fiction readers can look forward to books from Stephen King, Janet Evanovich, John Grisham and David Baldacci, among others. Anne Rice brings back the undead for “Prince Lestat: The Vampire Chronicles” and “Game of Thrones” author George R.R. Martin shares some of the back story in “The World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire).”

Some of the top literary writers also have books out. David Mitchell of “Cloud Atlas” fame has written “The Bone Clocks” and fellow British novelist Ian McEwan’s latest is “The Children Act.” Hilary Mantel, a two-time Man Booker Prize winner for her novels about the court of King Henry VIII, names names in the 20th century with the story collection “The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher.” Denis Johnson’s “The Laughing Monsters” is the author’s first full-length work of fiction since “Tree of Smoke” won the National Book Award in 2008. Marilynne Robinson returns to the Iowa setting of her Pulitzer-Prize-winning “Gilead” with “Lila.”

Six years ago, few noticed when Garth Stein had the bright idea to write a novel told from a dog’s point of view, “The Art of Racing in the Rain.” Thanks to 4 million copies sold, and more than three years on The New York Times’ best-seller list, Stein should have plenty of attention for “A Sudden Light,” which features a boy and a mansion.

“It’s what every writer dreams of, to be talked about as much as I was for ‘Racing in the Rain,’” Stein says. “But I’m a writer, and a writer’s got to write and I finally had to announce my retirement from ‘Racing in the Rain.’ As I said to my publisher, ‘I have to go in the cave. Don’t come in here. I’ll come out of the cave when it’s time.”

For some books this fall, the bold-faced name isn’t the author.

“The Monogram Murders” is a new mystery featuring Agatha Christie detective Hercule Poirot. Christie gets star billing on the cover, but the writer, approved by the Christie estate, is Sophie Hannah. “Robert B. Parker’s Blind Spot” offers a new case to solve for baseball star-turned police chief Jesse Stone, the sleuth of nine novels by Parker, who died in 2010. The author this time is Reed Farrel Coleman.

Sidney Sheldon lives on, at least in name, through British author Tilly Bagshawe. Her latest is “Sidney Sheldon’s Chasing Tomorrow,” a novel written “in his inimitable Sheldon style,” Bagshawe promises on her website. Dick Francis died in 2010, but a new thriller is called “Dick Francis’s ‘Damage”” in U.S. editions. The author’s son, Felix Francis, wrote the novel and prefers the British title: “Damage,” with FELIX FRANCIS printed above the title and “A Dick Francis Novel” at the bottom.

“It’s a Dick Francis novel in that it’s got horses and was written in the first person and the main character is both courageous and loyal,” Felix Francis said.

“I like the idea that I am giving my father immortality, or perhaps I am keeping his name alive. I just hope that if it goes on it becomes a little bit smaller and mine a little bit bigger.”

Stephen King, Donna Tartt among those backing anti-Amazon letter

Stephen King, Nora Roberts and Donna Tartt are among the hundreds of authors who have added their names to an online letter criticizing Amazon.com for restricting access to works published by Hachette Book Group.

The letter, initiated by Hachette author Douglas Preston, urged Amazon to resolve its standoff with Hachette over e-book prices and other issues. Readers were asked to email Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos at jeff(at)amazon.com and “tell him what you think.” Amazon has slowed delivery on books by Preston and other Hachette authors, limited discounts and removed pre-order tags for upcoming releases.

In a telephone interview, Preston said he was receiving so many emails of support that he felt like “a data entry clerk.” Known for such thrillers as “Blasphemy” and “The Codex,” Preston said he admired Amazon and appreciated how many of his books have sold through the online retailer. But he objected to Amazon’s “scorched earth tactics.”

“A lot of pain is being inflicted on innocent third parties,” he said, referring to authors whose books have been affected.

Preston’s next book, “The Lost Island,” is a collaboration with Lincoln Child that comes out in August. Only the audio edition can be pre-ordered.

“Our focus for years has been to build a bookstore that benefits authors and readers alike,” read a statement issued by Amazon. “We take seriously and regret the impact it has when, however infrequently, a terms dispute with a publisher affects authors. We look forward to resolving this issue with Hachette as soon as possible.” 

Other authors endorsing the letter, which appears on http://www.prestonchild.com/storage/med/preston/220_AmazonStatement.pdf, include James Patterson, Andrew Solomon and Scott Turow. Some on the list are Hachette writers, but many are published by rival companies. The authors include best-selling novelists such as King and Roberts, prize-winning historians such as Robert Caro and Taylor Branch, children’s authors Laurie Halse Anderson and Mary Pope Osborne, Pulitzer Prize winner Tartt and memoir writers Elizabeth Gilbert and Mary Karr.

“We’re in this for the long haul, as Amazon may well be, too,” Preston said.

Meanwhile, best-selling science fiction author Hugh Howey has written a petition addressed to readers that praises Amazon for offering low prices and for paying generous e-book royalties _ as high as 70 percent, compared to the standard 25 percent from traditional publishers _ to authors published by Amazon. Howey, who has had great success selling e-books through Amazon, has been a leading defender of the Seattle-based company and an advocate for self-publishing.

“You probably aren’t aware of this, but the majority of your favorite authors can’t make a living off their book sales alone,” reads the petition, which can be found on https://www.change.org/petitions/authors-to-thank-our-readers-2 and is supported by J.A. Konrath and other popular Amazon writers.

“Very few authors could when New York Publishing was in charge. That is changing now that Amazon and other online retailers are paying authors a fair wage.”

Preston may be the leader of the current round of Amazon criticism, but he emphasized that he did not support a boycott and that he hoped the dispute would be resolved “in a friendly way.”

Just the other day, he bought some computer equipment from Amazon.

“I’m an Amazon Prime member and plan to remain so,” he said.

Out on video | ‘Carrie’ remake explodes without bombing

Why do filmmakers insist on remaking good movies when there are so many more bad movies worthy of their attention?

Brian De Palma’s 1976 version of Carrie remains a classic to this day. The first of Stephen King’s novels to be adapted to the big screen, Carrie earned Oscar nominations for actresses Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie.

The 2013 remake of Carrie didn’t share the same fate, although it did score a trophy in the favorite horror movie category at the People’s Choice Awards. The remake is not the lesbian feminist version hoped for from out filmmaker Kimberly Peirce, but at least it’s not the pervy exercise that DePalma’s was (no bared breasts here).

Peirce’s interpretation, with a script by gay playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, honors both King’s novel and Lawrence D. Cohen’s 1976 screenplay in a variety of ways. It also expands on it.

The movie opens with the fanatically religious Margaret White (Julianne Moore) giving birth to what will become the telekinetic and tortured teen Carrie (Chloë Grace Moretz). It turns out that White wasn’t even aware she was pregnant until the day the baby was born. She’d thought the swelling in her abdomen was a cancerous tumor.

Carrie stands up for herself more in the remake. Taking advantage of the updated setting, the new Carrie explores her “magic powers” on the Internet. The Web also becomes a weapon against the put-upon teen in the classic scene in which she has her first period in the gym shower. The proceedings are captured on a smartphone video and later uploaded online.

Peirce’s version of Carrie also makes use of updated special-effect techniques. The climactic prom scene in which Carrie and class stud Tommy (Ansel Elgort) are crowned King and Queen, ramps ups the violence and volume — a lot. When Carrie and nemesis Chris (Portia Doubleday) come face-to-face on the road, with the corpse-strewn high school blazing in the background, Chris’ undoing is as poetic and it is gruesome. Crashes and thuds are amplified so much that your skin vibrates.

The “shocking alternate ending,” part of an hour’s worth of bonus material, improves on Peirce’s theatrical version finale, but it still doesn’t compare to DePalma’s achievement.

If Carrie is an attempt by Peirce, the acclaimed director of the Oscar-winning Boys Don’t Cry, to go Hollywood, she just missed the mark. Not as catastrophic as the forgettable 2002 TV remake, Peirce’s Carrie is scary, but ultimately unnecessary.