Neil Gaiman and Stephen King are two of my favorite writers, so I was looking forward to reading King's interview and it didn't disappoint.
I was hoping King would say something about the sequel to The Shining he's been working on, Dr. Sleep. Everyone I've talked to about King doing a sequel has looked at me and said, "He's doing a sequel?" as though they must have misheard.
I did it [wrote Dr. Sleep] because it was such a cheesed-off thing to do. To say you were going back to the book that was really popular and write the sequel ... People think of that book, they read it as kids. Kids read it and say it was a really scary book, and then as adults they might read the sequel and think, this isn’t as good. The challenge is, maybe it can be as good - or maybe it can be different. It gives you something to push up against. It's a challenge.King's explanation/description makes me want to read the book; it also nicely explains the title, which I was curious about.
I wanted to write Dr Sleep because I wanted to see what would happen to Danny Torrence when he grew up. And I knew that he would be a drunk because his father was a drunk. One of the holes it seemed to me in The Shining is that Jack Torrance was this white-knuckle dry drunk who never tried one of the self-help groups, the like Alcoholics Anonymous. I thought, okay, I'll start with Danny Torrence at age forty. He is going to be one of those people who says 'I am never going to be like my father, I am never going to be abusive like my father was'. Then you wake up at 37 or 38 and you're a drunk. Then I thought, what kind of a life does that person like that have? He'll do a bunch of low-bottom jobs, he'll get canned, and now he works in a hospice as a janitor. I really want him to be in a hospice worker because he has the shining and he can help people get across as they die. They call him Dr Sleep, and they know to call for him when the cat goes into their room and sits on their bed. This was writing about guy who rides the bus, and he's eating in a McDonalds, or on a special night out maybe Red Lobster. We are not talking about a guy who goes to Sardi's.
Let me give you one more excerpt. Here King is talking about something he mentioned in On Writing .
I never think of stories as made things; I think of them as found things. As if you pull them out of the ground, and you just pick them up. Someone once told me that that was me low-balling my own creativity. That might or might not be the case. But still, on the story I am working on now, I do have some unresolved problem. It doesn’t keep me awake at nights. I feel like when it comes down, it will be there...This has just scratched the surface of Neil Gaiman's original interview with Stephen King. Gaiman has put the unabridged version up on his site, it's over 4,000 words and well worth the read.
Neil Gaiman interviews Stephen King.
Photo credit: NeilGaiman.com