Before Stephen King gets out of bed at 6 a.m., he makes a mental inventory of the things he’s grateful for. “It’s a nice way to start the day because you get a chance to almost do a review of your current life, your current status,” says King, 73. His family, friends and dog—a corgi named Molly, whom he also refers to as the Thing of Evil—are mainstays of his list. “I try to remember to be grateful for not being in pain, you know? Because everybody has some of that in their life.” Next, he gets up and does a round of sit-ups and push-ups, shaves and eats breakfast before sitting down to write.
During his five-decade career, King has published over 60 novels and 200 short stories that mostly fall into or combine the genres of horror, suspense and science fiction and fantasy. His 2000 book On Writing, a memoir and how-to guide for aspiring authors, recounts how he and his brother, David, were raised by their single mother, frequently moving to different cities across the country. In 1966, King went to the University of Maine, working various jobs to pay tuition, including janitor and gas station attendant. He met his wife, the author Tabitha King, at the university’s library. After graduating, he started selling short stories to magazines while teaching high school; he published his first novel, Carrie, in 1974. He and Tabitha have three children: Naomi King, 51, Joe Hill, 49, and Owen King, 44.
Among the many TV shows and films based on King’s books are Carrie, The Shining and The Shawshank Redemption. His favorite book he’s ever written recently joined the list; Lisey’s Story, an Apple TV+ series directed by Pablo Larraín, premiered on June 4. In Lisey’s Story, Lisey Landon, played by Julianne Moore, is a widow grieving the death of her husband, Scott, a famous novelist (Clive Owen). While cleaning out Scott’s papers, Lisey is contacted by a threatening fan of Scott’s who eventually begins to stalk her; she also starts to remember parts of her marriage that she had repressed. King, who often leaves the adaptations of his work to other writers, wrote the script for the series. “Call me a sap, call me a sucker if you want, or soft or spongy, but I like a love story,” King says of his affinity for the book. “But it has to be good, it can’t be too corny.”
HERE, the author talks to Wall Street Journal about his love of Diet Pepsi and why the pandemic will change fiction going forward.