INTERVIEW

Stephen King part 2


Posted: January 17, 2007

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PART 2 Ė Duma Key, Jack Sawyer and The Gingerbread Girl
ďThey have this power so that sometimes if he
paints things into the world they kind of appear and if
he paints things out they disappear, including people.Ē

ďOf course you have to put him in some sort of situation where
he has to come back and then the clock is ticking.Ē


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Lilja: I understand that you have another book ready called Duma Key?

Stephen King: Duma Key is done in first draft and itís kind of a glorious mess right now and needs to be shorter but itís a good story.

Itís the first of the stories I have written that are set in Florida. We have been coming down here for about eight years and I feel comfortable writing about it. Finally I said to myself, ďYou write all these books about Maine because itís comfortable for you and itís easy but sometimes good things come from discomfortĒ. So I tried to do the best that I could, itís a scary story thatís kind of sweet.

Lilja: Can you reveal anything about the plot?

Cover art for PS Publishing's edition of The Colorado Kid

Stephen King: Sure, itís about a construction worker who is involved in a terrible accident. He lives in the northern part of the United States, Minnesota, and heís hurt very badly and loses an arm, sustains head injuries and is not expected to live but he does and he comes out of a coma and because of the head injuries he has uncontrollable rages and memory lapses. Itís very difficult and his wife divorces him so he decides heís going to move to Florida but heís also thinking about suicide just because of his pain and because he doesnít like being angry all the time and this psychiatrist kind of talks him out of it and one of the things he says is, ďIs there anything that you do that you can use as a kind of buffer against this depression? Is there any kind of new life for you besides working on buildings?Ē and this guy says, ďI used to draw, I used to paint a little bitĒ and the guy says, ďWell, try thatĒ and he discovers that, after this injury, that he is really a very talented painter and he moves to Florida and he starts to paint these pictures and then strange things start to happen with the pictures. They have this power so that sometimes if he paints things into the world they kind of appear and if he paints things out they disappear, including people. And there is something going on, on this island, this Duma Key that is actually amping that talent up and making it stronger because there is something wrong there. Thatís the real basis of the story.

Lilja: Do you expect it to be out this year?

Stephen King: No, I donít think so. Iíve got to work on it and I kind of likeÖ you know what happens to me is, I say to myself, ďIíve got to rewrite this book and thereís a lot of work involved because itís too longĒ and I think to myself, ďI donít wanna do that, Iíd rather write something newĒ. So thatís what Iím doing, Iím working on something new.

Lilja: Can you reveal anything about that?

Stephen King: Well, itís a story called The Gingerbread Girl and itís going to be long, I thinkÖI donít think itís gonna be a novel but I think itís gonna be pretty long, probably not as long as Shawshank or The Body or those things but probably pretty long.

Itís one of those stories that falls into a no-manís land. Itís too long to be a short story and get published in a magazine but itís too short to be a novel.

Lilja: Speaking of that are you planning a new collection soon where it might fit?

Stephen King: Somebody was asking me about that and I donít know what Iíve got that hasnít been published, Iíd have to think about it. If I went to Marsha and said, ďFind out how many short stories are uncollectedĒ she could do that but I donít know how many that is.

Thereís a story in Tinhouse called Memory but thatís really the first chapter of Duma Key all kind of dressed up.

Lilja: Yeah, I remember reading that, that it was an excerpt from Duma Key. That was a very good story.

Willa in Playboy

Stephen King: Itís pretty good. Itís about the guyís accident. And thereís a story called Lisey and the Madman but thatís from Liseyís Story so those two are out. I donít wanna do those but there are a few other ones. Thereís a story in Playboy last month called Willa.

Lilja: Is Willa something youíd want to expand?

Stephen King: No, I donít think so but I was still sort of under the influence of Liseyís Story. I had a wonderful time writing Liseyís Story, it was kind of magic for me and there seemed to be a little of that magic left over at the end and it went into Willa.

Lilja: Liseyís Story is a very nice book. One of your best books if I may say so.

Stephen King: I think itís THE best book.

Lilja: Yeah?

Stephen King: Yes, I do. Yeah, I think itís the best one and... you just never know. You sit down to work on a book and then when I was done with it I said to myself, ďI donít really wanna write another book because it wonít be as goodĒ. I mean itís like if you read a really good book, you put it on the shelf and you feel sad because you say to yourself, ďIím gonna read another book but I know it wonít be as good as this oneĒ.

Lilja: Do you feel that when youíre done or do you feel it in the process, that this is about to be something very good?

The US edition of Lisey's StoryStephen King: You just feel it. You know when itís going along day by day that itís really, really good and you donít know whyÖyou just kind of like...write it and say, ďboy I hope this will stick that wayĒ. But...I never had a book quite like Lisey and it was funny how that worked out because when I wrote most of it I was really sick a lot of the time. I had pneumonia and I picked up one of these hospital infections so that when I got out of the hospital I was just nauseated all the time, I couldnít keep food down, I felt like crap. The book was just angelic... So that was good but I actually literary wrote Lisey in between running to the bathroom to vomit what I had eaten last and finally I shook what ever it was I had. And the book just never really lost that magic for me and usually you write a book and you usually feel pretty good about it when youíre writing it. I usually feel like ďGoddamn, this is good, this is greatĒ and then it comes to a point when you have to work on it again and you say, ďoh, what a pile of shit this was, what were you thinking?Ē. You know you always feel a little bit like you fell short but I never felt that way with Lisey. I felt good about that book.

Lilja: Do you work more now than you did before?

Stephen King: It comes and it goes. It comes and goes in streaks. I had a time last year in January and February when we were down here in Florida and I couldnít really seem to get anything going. It just... nothing really seemed to work. It all fell apart like in my hands like tissue paper and this year itís like I canít do anything wrong, I really feel like Iím in a groove. I should not say that, now it will change.

Lilja: I hope it wonít.

Stephen King: I hope it wonít either.

Lilja: Do you work on several projects at the same time, or...?

Stephen King: Not any more. Iím too old for that and you know it used to be that I would work on something fresh in the morning and then I would rewrite at night but I also used to get loaded at night. I used to drink a lot and thatís kinda like... itís a medicine for...I donít know...insecurity or something because Iíd work and be a little bit loaded and I say, ďDamn this is goodĒ and it wasnít always, so...

Lilja: Itís better when youíre not drunk then?

Stephen King: Yeah!

Lilja: Yeah, Iím glad to hear that.

Stephen King: Now instead of working morning and night I have a tendency to work mostly in the morning... once every two or three weeks Iíll push everything aside and I write one of these Entertainment Weekly columns and... I donít know... thatís a little bit harder than it used to be. You just want them to be good and at the same time you want them to feel casual and kinda off the cuff, itís not easy to achieve that all the time but the columnís been kind of fun. Itís certainly given me a chance to do something different and thatís OK.

Lilja: Is it hard to work under a deadline?

Stephen King: Itís strange. I donít know if you actually say itís hard but sometimes itís kinda fun. They asked me one time if I would do a column on a movie about the Red Sox. Iím trying to think...Drew Barrymore was in that and...

Fever PitchLilja: I think you were in it as well?

Stephen King: Yeah, I was in it. Yeah, thatís right. I did have a little cameo in that. It was called Fever Pitch.

Iím in the movie and I canít remember what it was. But that is because I didnít have any lines. I didnít really get a close up.

Lilja: Was that pitch just for the movie or did you do it for... was it real?

Stephen King: They just did the movie and they asked me if I would do this thing where they could film me throwing out the first pitch at this game and that was already scheduled with the Red Sox so I said, ďSure, why not. Knock yourselves outĒ.

So that was kinda fun but then the people from Entertainment Weekly called me and said, ďWill you write a piece about this? Theyíll screen the movie for you today but we would need the piece tonight because weíre going to press and we wanna do it in this issueĒ. So I saw the movie and I wrote the piece that night in about an hour and a half which was all the time I had. And that was kinda fun. That was like being back in collage again and having a deadline for a paper or something and sometimes when somebody puts you under that kind of stress you do good work. So you respond to the challenge. I mean I like to think of myself not as this big rich best-selling writer but just as a craftsman, somebody who does this day by day.

Lilja: I hear also that there will be a third book about Jack Sawyer?

Stephen King: I hope so. Iíve gotta try to clear some space for that but that was always the plan.

Lilja: You always planed to do three books?

Stephen King: Well, I donít think we always planned to do three books, we planned to do one. And then at some point I think that I suggested to Peter that we do another book, a follow-up. You know in some ways it was a great book, I really enjoyed that book, I enjoyed the process. I enjoyed the process the second time even more than the first because it seemed to me to actually be a richer book in some ways and justÖ the funny thing aboutÖ itís the same for writers as it is for readers when you go back and revisit characters that youíve written about before, they become real in your imagination and itís like meeting old friends.

So, we really sort of enjoyed that book but it was an unlucky book because it was scheduled to be published on September 13, 2001 and two days before that they hit the World Trade Center and you know Peter and I had been scheduled to do this big publicity swing, we were going to do the talk shows, do signings and this and that and the other thing and everything just got cancelled. The bookÖ it was almost like a book that didnít happen. Because of all the tragedy that went around and you know I called Peter on the phone and I said, ďI donít think anybodyís gonna wanna read about a supernatural cannibal after what just happenedĒ. And the book sold pretty well but it didnít sell at the time, nothing did really.

King and Straub 1984Lilja: Was it harder to write the second book then the first book?

Stephen King: No.

Lilja: Easier?

Stephen King: No, it was about the same. It was just a real pleasure. And working with somebody else lightens the load. If itís someone that you see eye to eye with. I mean Peter is a great guy and Iíve always really gotten along with him, itís like heís my big brother in a way so it was kinda like, I think, my idea that we do the follow-up with Black House and with the third one, the way Black House turned out, we never had any question that there is to be another book. Itís just a question of trying to find the time.

Lilja: Have you planned out the plot of the third book?

Stephen King: AhÖ[laughs]Öitís there, I mean sometimes you just know. Itís there just waiting for us, you know. Because Jack is hurt, goes over to the Territories and the way things are left is that heíll be OK if heís over there on the other side but if he comes back to our world he will sicken and die in short order so of course you have to put him in some sort of situation where he has to come back and then the clock is ticking.

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PART 1 Ė Fan sites, Blaze and The Haven Foundation
PART 3 Ė Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, books in cellphones and limited editions

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Copyright (c) 2007, Lilja's Library. All rights reserved. Larger parts of this interview may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior written permission from Lilja's Library.
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