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Stephen King Taps Into His Youthful Side Again For New Novel Later

In the hands of Stephen King, the kids are usually all right — even if their situations always aren’t.

From Danny Torrance in “The Shining” to the Losers Club of “It,” the bestselling master of horror has written plenty of kid protagonists facing all sorts of terrifying foes over the decades. His latest, Jamie Conklin in the new novel “Later” (Hard Case Crime, out Tuesday), is a youngster who has to deal with enemies of the supernatural as well as human persuasion.

Jamie sees dead people, usually hanging out where they passed. And they not only can see him, too, they have to tell him the truth if he asks them a question. His cash-strapped mom Tia and her dirty-cop girlfriend Liz both take advantage of Jamie’s “gift,” but a more terrifying player emerges when Jamie meets a dead serial bomber inhabited by a haunting darkness that chills the boy’s soul.

Stephen King has two new books this year: “Later” and “Billy Summers.”

“I wanted to write about a literary agent because I never had” previously, King says of the story’s origins. “One client that this agent has who is worth big bucks dies suddenly. What’s she going to do about it? What if she has a kid who can see dead people and they have to answer any question that he asked? And I thought, ‘I got a story.’”

In addition to “Later,” the author also has two big projects coming this summer: the new novel “Billy Summers” (Scribner, Aug. 3), about a decorated Iraq war vet turned hitman who wants out after one last job, and an adaptation of his 2006 book “Lisey’s Story” as an eight-part Apple TV+ limited series starring Julianne Moore and Clive Owen.

USA TODAY chatted with King about his work, writing youthful personas and the effects of COVID on his storytelling.

Read the interview HERE.

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Stephen King Talks About Crime, Creativity And New Novel

“My view has always been you can call me whatever you want as long as the checks don’t bounce,” King told The Associated Press during a recent telephone interview. “My idea is to tell a good story, and if it crosses some lines and it doesn’t fit one particular genre, that’s good.”

Readers may know him best for “Carrie,” “The Shining” and other bestsellers commonly identified as “horror,” but King has long had an affinity for other kinds of narratives, from science fiction and prison drama to the Boston Red Sox.

Over the past decade, he has written three novels for the imprint Hard Case Crime: “Joyland,” “The Colorado Kid” and “Later,” which comes out this week. He loves sharing a publisher with such giants of the past as James M. Cain and Mickey Spillane, and loves the old-fashioned pulp illustrations used on the covers.

At the same time, he enjoys writing a crime story that is more than a crime story — or hardly a crime story at all.

“Joyland” is a thriller set around an amusement park and could just as easily be called a coming-of-age story. “The Colorado Kid” has a dead body on an island off the coast of King’s native Maine, but otherwise serves as a story about why some cases are best left unsolved.

His new novel has a lot of crime in it but, as King’s narrator suggests, it might actually be a horror story. Jamie Conklin is looking back on his childhood, when he was raised by a single mother, a New York literary agent. Like other young King protagonists, Jamie has special powers: He not only can see dead people, but when he asks them questions, they are compelled to tell the truth.

“Later” also features a best-selling novelist and his posthumous book, and a police detective who for a time is the girlfriend of Jamie’s mother.

The 73-year-old King has written dozens of novels and stories, and usually has three to four ideas that “are half-baked, kind of like an engine and no transmission.” He doesn’t write ideas down because, he says, if something is good enough he’s unlikely to forget it.

For “Later,” he started with the idea of a literary agent who needed to get her late client’s manuscript finished, and thought of having a son who communicates with the dead. He then decided the mother needed a companion.

“And I thought, ‘You know what, I’m going to make the love relationship female.’ Then I thought to myself, ‘Cop,’ and the cop is dirty and everything fell into place,” he says.

King, who publishes most of his work with Simon & Schuster, is part of the founding story of Hard Case Crime. Back in 2004, Charles Ardai and Max Phillips were launching a line of books to “revive pulp fiction in all its lurid mid-century glory.” Hoping for some publicity, they wrote to King and asked for a blurb. A representative for the author called and said King did not want to write a blurb for Hard Case Crime; he wanted to contribute a book. That became “The Colorado Kid.”

“I sat on the other end of the phone while this sank in and tried to sound cool, like this was the sort of phone call I got every day and twice on Fridays,” Ardai wrote in an introduction to “The Colorado Kid,” which came out in 2005. “But inside I was turning cartwheels.”

King’s passions also include politics and current events, and over the past few years he regularly tweeted his contempt for President Donald Trump. But he doubts that Trump’s loss to Democrat Joe Biden will have an effect on his work. Fiction has been an “escape” from politics, he says, not a forum.

And though he has written a famous novel about a pandemic, “The Stand,” he passed on a chance to write about COVID-19 in a work of fiction coming later this year, “Billy Summers.” He originally set it in 2020, but decided instead on 2019.

Toward the end of “Later,” Jamie observes that his writing has improved as the story went along, “improved by doing, which I suppose is the case with most things in life.” Asked during the interview to evaluate his own writing, King, the baseball fan, likens himself to an aging but resourceful pitcher.

“I’ve gotten better in some ways, but you lose a little of the urgency. In my 40s, the ideas were like people jamming into a fire door to get out. There were so many ideas, and you couldn’t wait to get to the typewriter and the words would pour out,” he says.

“Nowadays, you’re almost feeling people are looking over your shoulder and they’re apt to be a little more critical. You slow down a little bit. I’m aware I’m getting older. You lose the blazing fastball and start to count more on your changeups and curves and be a little more careful and mix them up.”

Reprinted from AP News

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Amanda Gorman And Michelle Obama Discuss Art, Identity, And Optimism

Amanda Gorman captivated the world when she read her poem “The Hill We Climb” at President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris’ Jan. 20 Inauguration ceremony. 

Sitting just feet away from the 22-year-old that day was former First Lady Michelle Obama, who had met Gorman twice before—in 2016 at a White House event for the National Student Poets program and again at a 2018 event for Black Girls Rock, an organization that seeks to empower women and girls. Gorman, who was named the first National Youth Poet Laureate in 2017, emerged in an instant as the latest inspiring young artist of the renaissance. Her three upcoming books shot to the top of Amazon’s bestseller list and the NFL soon announced plans for her to recite an original poem at Super Bowl LV. 

In a remote interview, Gorman and Obama covered topics ranging from the role of art in activism to the pressures Black women face in the spotlight.

Read the interview HERE.

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Stephen King Has Thoughts About Stephen King TV Shows

Stephen King has written some of the most beloved horror novels in the history of popular fiction, and many have been turned into equally acclaimed and successful films. Movies like “Carrie,” “Stand by Me” and “The Shawshank Redemption” have more than earned esteemed spots within the cinematic canon. Others — “Maximum Overdrive,” “Thinner,” “The Dark Tower” — have not.

But what about the small screen? As with the film adaptations, attempts to bring King’s books to life on TV have had mixed results, and few have reached the heights of “The Green Mile” or “Misery.” But thanks to the longer running time afforded by a series, several of King’s more unwieldy novels have proved better suited to television than to the multiplex.

“That is the great thing about TV,” King said, calling from his home in Bangor, Maine. “You can take these things as they are and expand more.”

With a new adaptation of one of the author’s longest, most complex novels, “The Stand,” arriving Thursday on CBS All Access, King looked back at the best and worst adaptations of his stories for television.

Read the New York Times interview HERE.

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NY Governor Andrew Cuomo To Speak With Billy Joel About American Crisis Via Zoom On November 18

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will discuss his new book, American Crisis: Leadership Lessons From the COVID-19 Pandemic (Crown), with Grammy Award-winning artist Billy Joel via Zoom on Wednesday, November 18 at 7:00 pm (ET).

Taking readers beyond the candid daily briefings that became must-see TV across the globe, and providing a dramatic, day-by-day account of the catastrophe as it unfolded, American Crisis presents the intimate and inspiring thoughts of a leader at an unprecedented historical moment. In his own voice, Andrew Cuomo chronicles the ingenuity and sacrifice required of so many to fight the pandemic, sharing the decision-making that shaped his policy as well as his frank accounting and assessment of his interactions with the federal government, the White House, and other state and local political and health officials. Including a game plan for what we as individuals—and as a nation—need to do to protect ourselves against this disaster and those to come, this book is a remarkable portrait of selfless leadership and a gritty story of difficult choices that points the way to a safer future for all of us.

Andrew Cuomo is the 56th Governor of New York, serving since 2011. He is also the author of All Things Possible: Setbacks and Success in Politics and Life and Crossroads: The Future of American Politics.

Tickets cost $36.50 for the online event and include access to the talk and conversation on Zoom plus a signed copy of American Crisis which will be shipped to the address you provide. Shipping cost is included in ticket price.

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Stephen King On How To Properly Adapt His Books & Which Project Went Entirely Off The Rails

From “Carrie” to “IT” — works so nice filmmakers made them twice — many of our favorite movies originated from the pages of Stephen King novels. But not all filmed versions of his prose were created equal, particularly in the author’s eyes. King famously hates Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 adaptation of his novel “The Shining,” calling it “a big, beautiful Cadillac with no engine inside it.”

So what makes a good King adaptation?

Since “Mr. Mercedes,” based on a King trilogy, started streaming on Peacock this month, The Washington Post spoke to the prolific author about how to make a good version of his books, whether he has any say in the content and which show just got it completely wrong.

Read the interview HERE.

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Stephen King’s TV Reign: The Author Discusses Mr. Mercedes, The Stand, And The Outsider

With America experiencing what’s objectively its most terrifying year of the 21st century, it’s perhaps only appropriate that the master of horror is having one of his best.

Stephen King may be well into his fourth decade as a blockbuster storyteller, yet TV adaptations of his work have never been more popular. There’s HBO’s stealth breakout The Outsider, which launched in January; CBS All Access’ take on King’s suddenly timely pandemic classic The Stand which premieres in December, and Audience Network’s adaptation of King’s Bill Hodges crime novel trilogy Mr. Mercedes, which moves to its new home on Peacock on Thursday, Oct. 15. Not to mention, King released another best-selling book this year (a quartet of novellas under the title If It Bleeds) and has two more planned for 2021.

Entertainment Weekly spoke with King about all his TV projects and, of course, dipped a bit into politics as well. We start with Mr. Mercedes, a series that received strong praise from critics (with a 93 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes) yet reached relatively few viewers on the now-defunct Audience Network. King hopes the drama will have a better shot at finding mainstream success when its first two seasons come to Peacock this week.

“I’m so happy that Peacock is doing this because I felt like with Mr. Mercedes at AT&T we had brought a stadium show to a folk club,” King says. “Now people are going to get a chance to see it.”

Read the interview HERE.

The highlight of the interview was that King will have a second book coming out in 2020…

EW: You have a Hard Case Crime book, titled Later, coming in 2021. But I look at your website pretty regularly and it’s unusual for you not to have at least two upcoming books on your site. And so I’m wondering if there is another new title you’re working on that you can tease?

King: There will be two next year. I don’t want people to get used to that or think that that’s the norm. It’s not. But it’s just the way things happened. So there is another, but I don’t want to say anything about it yet.

No word yet on the book title or subject matter but THE FIRE WIRE will be sure to post about it as soon as the information becomes available!

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David Sedaris Discusses New Book The Best of Me

Asking an interview subject about their pandemic isolation journey is dangerously close to passé. But for a David Sedaris interview, it’s a requirement: The essayist’s entire brand is built on nonstop international touring, his best material flowing from his travels and his frequent — and often off-color — interactions with his fans. (On his last tour, he drew portraits of readers naked from behind instead of signing their books.) Anyway, his quarantine story: He spent the first part in his apartment in New York before decamping to his North Carolina beach house — dubbed the Sea Section — and then, ultimately, to his homes in the U.K. (Sussex and London), where he’s passed his days maintaining his diary and obsessively checking his Fitbit.

Entertainment Weekly conducted this interview in early August, by late-night (for him) phone call — Sedaris has a strict no-Zoom policy. He paces back and forth in the office of his Sussex home, nearly crossing the 18-mile mark on his daily steps as the clock strikes midnight. Asked for a visual — he’s an infamous clotheshorse — his description goes beyond what could typically be seen in the waist-up frame of a screen: “It looks like I’m wearing a white skirt, but it’s a pair of shorts,” he says. “The legs are so wide, I look like one of those Greek soldiers.”

If it seems like Sedaris, 63, has a very cushy pandemic setup — this bucolic pic was shot at his London abode — he’s more than earned it. Punishing schedule aside, he’s been publishing best-selling books for more than a quarter-century (his first, Barrel Fever, debuted in 1994), and this fall he’s set to release his inaugural greatest-hits collection, The Best of Me. He wrote every day for 15 years before Fever was published (“Most of those days I thought, ‘Wow, I suck’ ”), so he doesn’t take this point in his career lightly. The Best of Me encompasses a wide swath of his past work, from early entries in The New Yorker’s Shouts & Murmurs section to fan-favorite essays like 2000’s “Me Talk Pretty One Day” (in which he recounts taking French-language classes from a merciless teacher) and 2016’s “The Perfect Fit” (about shopping for outrageous clothes in Tokyo).

But that doesn’t mean he’s going to pander to the masses: It’s better you hear it here first that “SantaLand Diaries,” about his stint as a Macy’s elf, is not included. “That might have been other people’s favorite, but it was never even in my top 100,” Sedaris says of the 1992 story that plays on NPR to this day. “It’s what most people know me from, but I’ve kind of moved on — I think the writing is so clunky, even if others don’t see it.”

The Best of Me required far less work than an original book, so the author is already looking to his next one: a second diary compilation (following 2017’s Theft byFinding), expected in late 2021. The pandemic is providing plenty of time to comb through journal entries, triggering as they may be. “In so many of [the entries] I was on tour,” he says. “So even the hotels I was complaining about, it’s like, God, I’d give anything to be back in that shitty hotel.” Much of what Sedaris records in his diary stems from the human contact we all took for granted before our age of quarantine. But he’s finding new ways to drum up material: Recent visits to the grocery store featured the sighting of a shopper without a shirt (or a mask) and a man who told him, “The funniest thing you ever said was that you gave $1,000 to Hillary Clinton.”

And while Sedaris misses the collective laughter that a packed theater provides, he doesn’t miss it enough to get on an Instagram Live or join Twitter: “I just don’t want to live in that world,” he says. “I think it makes me a happy person that I’m not on social media.” It’s a stark contrast to many of today’s authors, who find it crucial to promote their books on every digital platform. But Sedaris sees himself as part of the last generation to have the luxury of getting famous without social media, and he credits his early start on This American Life, when the radio format limited criticism of his work, for his rise: “I feel fortunate to have come up in a time when people didn’t get the opportunity to see the cracks.”

A social media absence shouldn’t be confused for an immunity to public opinion — with every release, a self-imposed pressure to perform at his peak mounts. The Best of Me offers a bit of a reprieve, since everything but the introduction has already been published. “With a normal book, if it wasn’t number one on the New York Times best-seller list, I would berate myself,” he says. “I would still like for it to do well, but I don’t feel its success reflects on me personally.”

There’s no tour this time around, obviously, but Sedaris is getting back to another beloved activity from his old life: shopping. He counts high-end boutiques among his favorite places, and shopkeepers as his personal friends. The author has ventured out to London’s Dover Street Market — he’s a regular — and to Bloomingdale’s, where a fittingly bleak interaction presented itself. “The clerk said, ‘Welcome in,’ ” Sedaris recalls with good-humored disdain. “Civilization as we know it ends, but ‘Welcome in’ survives? I realized I should have been grateful everyday I didn’t have to hear that.” His readers will just have to hope he wrote the whole thing down.

For more from Entertainment Weekly’s Fall Books Special, you can find it on newsstands beginning Sept. 18. There will also be a special edition of the issue at Barnes & Noble stores beginning Sept. 25.

Reprinted from Entertainment Weekly.

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Stephen King Weighs Which of His Characters Would Make The Worst Quarantine-Mate

The legendary master of horror, Stephen King covers a lot of ground in this talk with Stephen Colbert, including how he would fare in quarantine with his most feared characters, some things he learned about pandemics when doing research for “The Stand,” and the many reasons he recommends reading “The Lord of the Rings.” 

King’s latest book “If It Bleeds” is available everywhere now, and his epic novel “The Stand” is coming soon as a limited series on CBS All Access

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Stephen King Is Sorry You Feel Like You’re Stuck In A Stephen King Novel

“I keep having people say, ‘Gee, it’s like we’re living in a Stephen King story,’ ” he says. “And my only response to that is, ‘I’m sorry.’ “

A pandemic like COVID-19 was “bound to happen,” King says. “There was never any question that in our society, where travel is a staple of daily life, that sooner or later, there was going to be a virus that was going to communicate to the public at large.”

Though he made his name as a horror writer, King says he’s most interested in exploring the “intrusion of the unexpected and the strange” into the lives of ordinary people.

His new collection of short stories, If it Bleeds, centers on Holly Gibney, a private investigator who seems to have supernatural ability. The character is featured in several other his novels, including The Outsider, which was adapted into an HBO series.

“There are people who have those special-type powers,” King says of the character. “People can call me a horror writer if they want to, and that’s fine — as long as the checks don’t bounce, I’m happy with that. But I think that I do a lot more, and I’m interested in the mystery of what we are and what we’re capable of doing.”

Listen to his NPR interview HERE.

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