Have you gone back to re-read any of your other novels?
Not a whole lot. I read It again. I had to do that because I wanted to use it in 11/22/63 – not just because some of the characters from It show up, but because a lot of it was set in [the fictional town of] Derry, Maine, and didn’t remember the geography. I had to go back to and be as careful as I could to get everything to fit together so there would be a smooth transition from one to the other.
Obviously with Doctor Sleep, a smooth transition from The Shining would be critical.
I don’t know if anybody else will care, and I don’t know how many people will want to re-read The Shining before reading this one, but some of them will. And you know how they are: If you get something wrong, they’re very quick to point it out.
Does that really happen to you?
I must’ve gotten, over the years, 200 letters about The Stand and the scene where the female character, Frannie Goldsmith, finally realizes that the guy she’s been with, Harold Lauder, has read her diary. Harold eats all these Payday candy bars and she finds a chocolate thumbprint in her diary. I got all these letters saying: ‘Payday doesn’t make a chocolate Payday! So there couldn’t be a thumbprint.’ It’s just one of those things that makes you say, ‘Oh my God! I went out in my underwear!’
Yes, but then ‘Hey people, the world also didn’t end in 1977 from the superflu.’ So that’s different, too.
That’s true. But that seems to pass them right by! The fact that the world didn’t end isn’t a problem. The chocolate Payday is the problem.
Maybe that’s the difference between our universe and that doomed one. The butterfly effect – if Hershey hadn’t made a chocolate Payday in your fictional world of The Stand, perhaps that pesky super-flu would never have gotten out and destroyed humanity.
The really funny thing is the company started to make a chocolate payday bar a few years later [in 2007]. I don’t know if they got the idea from my book. [Laughs.]
Is it distracting to have to think about little details like that when writing a book?
I have a friend, a guy from Australia named Rocky Wood who’s read everything I’ve written and he’s done a couple books about my stuff. He’s a very close reader, and I actually hired him to read Doctor Sleep to point out all the stuff I got wrong. He came back with a list of 40 or 50 things, including that I’d had Danny remembering his father knocked out Dick Halloran’s teeth with a roque mallet. So Rocky comes back and says, ‘Actually, Dick Halloran had dentures.’
What a mind.
I’m not sure I want to have that mind. [Laughs.]
Were sequels a concept you rejected all these years – or did you just have enough other stories to keep you busy?
I’ve had a lot of original ideas. I’ve been blessed that way. I wouldn’t say I’d never go back and do a sequel to anything else. I do wonder about some of the characters. The characters seem real to me. I’m not crazy, I know they’re not real. But you spend a certain amount of time with them and they seem that way. But in this case, Danny just seemed like such an obvious character to catch up with. Particularly with that power, that ability to touch other people’s minds.
There has recently been talk of a movie prequel to The Shining. It’s based on material cut from your novel, about the early history of the Overlook. Warner Bros, which made Kubrick’s film, has been exploring whether there’s another movie in it. How do you feel about that?
There’s a real question about whether or not they have the rights to ‘Before the Play,’ which was the prologue cut from the book — because the epilogue to the book was called ‘After the Play.’ So they were bookends, and there was really scary stuff in that prologue that wouldn’t make a bad movie. Am I eager to see that happen? No I am not. And there’s some real question about what rights Warner Bros. does still have. The Shining is such an old book now that the copyright comes back to me. Arguably, the film rights lapse — so we’ll see. We’re looking into that. I’m not saying I would put a stop to the project, because I’m sort of a nice guy. When I was a kid, my mother said, ‘Stephen if you were a girl, you’d always be pregnant.’ I have a tendency to let people develop things. I’m always curious to see what will happen. But you know what? I would be just as happy if it didn’t happen.
STEPHEN KING, PAGE 4: Protecting his novels from beyond the grave, and getting tickets to Stephen King Land …