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Tag: Stephen King (31-40 of 43)

Stephen King to publish surprise baseball novella, 'Blockade Billy'

Stephen-KingImage Credit: Lee Roth/RothStock/PR PhotosStephen King is a big fan of baseball, particularly the Boston Red Sox, as anyone who’s read The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon can tell you, and now he’s ready to take us out to the ballpark again. In the lead-up to Opening Day, indie publisher Cemetery Dance has just announced the release of Blockade Billy, a new baseball-themed novella from King. The work is the tale of William Blakely, a player long erased from the history books, who harbored a deep, dark secret. Knowing the author, I suspect it’ll be something a lot creepier than steroids or pine tar.

“People have asked me for years when I was going to write a baseball story,” King said in the press release. “Ask no more; this is it.” According to Cemetery Dance, Blockade Billy will be available to ship in a few weeks, but you can order a copy now via the publisher’s online store. The first copies will also come with a baseball card of the protagonist. (And those who don’t order online may be out of luck. As the Cemetery Dance website notes, “We’ll be filling direct orders first and then distributors, online stores, and the chains if there are copies left available after we’ve taken care of our regular customers.”)

It’s interesting to see one of the biggest-name authors in popular literature publishing through a relatively small specialty house like Cemetery Dance. The company kept news of the book quiet so it would be a surprise just in time for the upcoming baseball season. What do you think? Surprised? Any fans of both King and baseball particularly excited for this?

'The Lost Symbol' and 'Going Rogue' top 2009 best-seller list

Though it didn’t sell as strongly as The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol moved more than 5.5 million copies to dominate Publishers Weekly‘s just-unveiled list of the best-selling hardcover books of 2009. A few other expected author names populate the Top 15, including John Grisham (No. 2 and No. 6), James Patterson (No. 5), and Patricia Cornwell (No. 12 and No. 14). Stephenie Meyer landed in the ninth spot with her 2008 sci-fi novel The Host, but the lack of a Twilight book was evident, particularly in the ascendancy of two entries from P.C. Cast’s Twi-lite House of Night series, which rose up to fill a vampire-shaped hole. The real surprise, though, is Kathryn Stockett’s The Help, which itself was helped by tremendous word of mouth to become the fourth best-selling fiction book of the year with 1.1 million copies sold. On the nonfiction side, it was politics, mainly conservative, that got the cash register ringing. Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue capped the list, but books by Glenn Beck, conservative radio host Mark Levin, and the late Edward Kennedy all made it into the top five.

Whereas sales of albums and movie tickets are tallied virtually in real-time, the figures for the publishing industry are often as closely guarded as the Colonel’s secret recipe, so PW’s yearly ranking offers one of the best snapshots of the literary marketplace. And while the top contenders on both the fiction and nonfiction lists sold millions of copies, the overall list reveals a far less rosy picture of book sales. The number of titles that sold at least 100,000 copies is down by significant double-digit percentages from 2008 in both fiction and nonfiction.

E-book sales figures weren’t included this year (they will be for 2010), but since digital editions rarely exceed 5 percent of a book’s total sales it’s unlikely that the 2009 sales list would have received a big boost from their inclusion. Here are the top selling books of 2009 (since some publishers did not provide PW exact sales figures, several titles’ rankings are based on estimates or sales figures provided in confidence for the purposes of ranking):

Hardcover Fiction

1. The Lost Symbol: A Novel, Dan Brown (5,543,643 copies)
2. The Associate: A Novel, John Grisham
3. Tempted, P.C. Cast (1,141,818)
4. The Help, Kathryn Stockett (1,104,617)
5. I, Alex Cross, James Patterson (1,040,976)
6. Ford County, John Grisham
7. Finger Lickin’ Fifteen, Janet Evanovich (977,178)
8. Hunted, P.C. Cast (931,219)
9. The Host: A Novel, Stephenie Meyer (912,165)
10. Under the Dome, Stephen King
11. Pirate Latitudes, Michael Crichton (855,638)
12. Scarpetta, Patricia Cornwell (800,00)
13. U Is for Undertow, Sue Grafton (706,154)
14. The Scarpetta Factor, Patricia Cornwell (705,000)
15. Shadowland, Alyson Noel (609,355)

Hardcover Nonfiction

1. Going Rogue: An American Life, Sarah Palin (2,674,684 copies)
2. Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy, and Commitment, Steve Harvey (1,735,219)
3. Arguing With Idiots: How to Stop Small Minds and Big Government, Glenn Beck
4. Liberty & Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto, Mark R. Levin
5. True Compass: A Memoir, Edward M. Kennedy (870,402)
6. Have a Little Faith: A True Story, Mitch Albom (855,843)
7. It’s Your Time: Activate Your Faith, Achieve Your Dreams, and Increase in God’s Favor, Joel Osteen
8. The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow (610,033)
9. Stones Into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books Not Bombs, Greg Mortenson (515,566)
10. Superfreakonomics, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner (487,977).
11. Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Julia Child (487,228)
12. Master Your Metabolism: The 3 Diet Secrets to Naturally Balancing Your Hormones for a Hot and Healthy Body! Jillian Michaels (486,154)
13. The Yankee Years, Joe Torre and Tom Verducci (397,954)
14. Open, Andre Agassi (383,722)
15. Time of My Life, Patrick Swayze and Lisa Niem

'American Vampire' comic book: New twists on the vampire genre, with a little help from Stephen King

The first issue of American Vampire (Vertigo/DC) goes on sale today, and it’s something rather rare: a non-super-hero comic book that does something new with the vampire genre. Created by writer Scott Snyder and drawn by Rafael Albuquerque, the debut introduces us to Skinner Sweet, a low-down, rattlesnake-mean vampire. Forget the neurasthenic, elegantly neurotic, aristo vamps of so much popular literature. Skinner is more like crossing Breaking Bad‘s Aaron Paul with a young, slim, undead Ronnie Van Zant from Lynyrd Skynyrd: a tough little cuss who wants to bite for the blood, for the class-revenge, and for the pleasure of it.

The book spans decades. Snyder is launching American Vampire with his own story, about a Roaring Twenties version of Skinner, on the shady outskirts of the movie industry. Very smart, knowledgeable stuff. And Snyder gets an assist, and a little extra publicity, by having enlisted Stephen King to write a Skinner origin-story: A lean, mean cowboy Skinner in the Old West. As I’ve written before, one of the best ways King uses his popularity is to draw attention to the work of other writers and artists he admires, so his generosity here is matched by his cool storytelling.

It’s good to know that American Vampire will take its unique character and skip him across many different decades; the story possibilities are abundant. Add Rafael Albuquerque’s excellent art, which mixes shadowy action with bright sunlight and sketchy characters, and you’ve got one promising new series.

Rocker Josh Ritter to release first novel via Random House

Dylan-esque folkie Josh Ritter, 33, has signed on with Random House imprint The Dial Press to publish his first work of fiction, Bright’s Passage, in summer 2011. Ritter told EW, “It was while I was writing song for my new record, So Runs the World Away (coming out May 4th) that the story came into my head for Bright’s Passage.  Several of the songs on So Runs the World Away are fairly complicated narrative songs, so my first instinct was to try and make Henry Bright’s story into a song.  As I thought about it, though, I realized this was my chance to try my hand at a novel.” He added, “I’ve written lots of longer-form fiction before, but none that I’d ever think to show anyone.  I’ve always thought that one of the most important talents a good writer can have is the knowledge of when to share a work and when to leave it locked in your desk. Besides my songs, Bright’s Passage is the first work I’ve I wanted anyone to see.”

Ritter says that for him, songwriting and novel-writing bring the same challenges: “While the audience may not be in the room with a novelist, they still demand the same kind of attention as they do from the performance of a song.  They ask that you give them your full attention, that you are generous with your time and that you don’t over stay your welcome.  They give you their trust, and if they can tell your efforts have been for the right reasons, they’ll give you the room for whatever flights of imagination you’re willing to take them on.” Who does he like to read? “Muriel Spark, Pete Dexter, Dennis Lehane Stephen King, Mordecai Richler, Philip Roth and Daphne du Maurier and Flannery O’Connor. I like anyone who is willing to burn their own dollhouses down.”

Ritter, a favorite of EW columnist Stephen King, will be touring throughout the spring to promote So Runs The World Away.

Stephen King on J.D. Salinger: 'The last of the great post-WWII American writers'

I wasn’t a huge Salinger fan, but I’m sorry to hear of his passing — the way you’d feel if you heard an eccentric, short-tempered, but often fascinating uncle had passed away. Not as great a loss as Beverly Jensen (her marvelous The Sisters from Hardscrabble Bay will be published this summer), who wrote only one book before dying of cancer at the age of 49, or of Raymond Carver, who was barely into his 50s; Salinger was, after all, in his 90s.

But it is a milestone of sorts, because Salinger was the last of the great post-WWII American writers, and in Holden Caulfield — maybe the greatest American-boy narrator since Huck Finn — he created an authentic Voice of the Age: funny, anxious, at odds with himself, and badly lost.

Salinger’s death may answer one question that has intrigued readers, writers, and critics for nearly half a century — what literary trove of unpublished work may he have left behind? Much? Some? Or none? Salinger is gone, but if we’re lucky, he may have more to say, even so.

Stephen King on proposed 'Shining' sequel: 'People shouldn't hold their breath'

On the heels of the news that best-selling horror master (and EW columnist) told the audience at a Toronto book signing that he was considering writing a sequel to The Shining, King tells that he’s got no immediate plans to revisit the character of Danny Torrance. “It’s a great idea, and I just can’t seem to get down to it,” says the author in an e-mail. “People shouldn’t hold their breath. I know it would be cool, though. I want to write it just for the title, Dr. Sleep. I even told them [at the book signing], ‘It will probably never happen.’” Still, King — whose most recent novel is this month’s Under the Dome — can’t quite shut the door on the Shining sequel, adding, “But ‘probably’ isn’t ‘positively,’ so maybe.”

Stephen King is considering writing a 'Shining' sequel

Redrum backwards spells “sequel.” Thirty-two years after Stephen King’s third novel, The Shining, was published, the prolific horror maestro has announced that he’s considering penning a follow-up.

The Torontoist reported that King dropped the news at a book reading for his new novel Under the Dome moderated by movie director, and brother in horror, David Cronenberg. According to the author, the second novel would center on Danny Torrance, the young boy from the original story with the gift (or curse) of being able to communicate clairvoyantly with ghosts, and who is now an appropriately aged 40-year-old. All these years after being tormented by the spiritual inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel and his father’s alcoholism/homicidal rage, Danny is now working at a hospice using his supernatural powers for palliative purposes. King even offered a tentative title: Doctor Sleep.

King mentioned that he began working on the idea last summer, but that he isn’t entirely committed to writing it quite yet.

UPDATE: Stephen King tells “People shouldn’t hold their breath” for Shining sequel

Stephen King reads from 'Under the Dome': An EW exclusive!

Fans of Stephen King who can’t wait for his new novel Under The Dome — which goes on sale Nov. 10 (pre-order it here) — are in for a treat. Shelf Life has an exclusive video of King reading a passage from the 1,072-page book (below).

King began the epic thriller — the tale of what happens in Chester’s Mill, Maine, when an invisible force-field claps down over the town — over 30 years ago, in 1976. He put it down and picked it up several times over the years, but it was only in 2007 that he was truly able to get a handle on it. “I work seven days a week,” he told us, explaining how he delivered such a massive manuscript in such a relatively short period of time.

You can read a 4,000-word excerpt of Under The Dome in the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands today. Also, visit the official Under the Dome site.

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Watch the official trailer for Under the Dome
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From the archives: Stephen King’s Pop of King columns
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Stephen King's 'Under the Dome': Exclusive trailer!

We’re delighted to bring you an exclusive sneak peek at the trailer for Stephen King’s long-awaited epic novel Under The Dome, which goes on sale Nov. 10 (you can pre-order it here). More than 30 years in the writing, this sprawling, 1072-page supernatural thriller brings to life the town of Chester’s Mill, Maine, the day that an invisible force-field seals it off from the rest of the world. “Every time I went back and picked it up again, science had changed,” says King (who is a regular contributor to EW), noting that he asked good friend Russ Dorr to spearhead the book’s research, nailing down details about everything from cell phone technology to portable generators.

Want more? You can read an exclusive 4,000-word excerpt of Under The Dome in the current issue of Entertainment Weekly, which goes on sale tomorrow. Also, come back tomorrow for another Shelf Life exclusive: a video clip of King reading a passage from the book. In the meantime, check out the official Under the Dome site here.

Related content:
Stephen King on the delay of his e-book and the $9 price wars — can bookstores survive?
Wes Craven’s favorite scary movies
The 20 scariest films of all time

EW’s Halloween Central

Stephen King on the delay of his e-book and the $9 price wars - can bookstores survive?

44574551In the latest skirmish in the e-book war, Scribner announced this week that it will delay the e-book release of EW columnist and perennial best-seller Stephen King’s new novel, Under the Dome, until Dec. 24. That’s almost six weeks after the hardcover edition goes on sale November 10. “We think that this publishing sequence gives us the opportunity to maximize hardcover sales and at the same time allows people who receive a reading device or gift certificates as a holiday gift to enjoy the digital edition,” says  Adam Rothberg, a spokesman for Scribner (an imprint of Viacom’s Simon & Schuster). In an exclusive comment to EW, the author himself was more blunt: “It’s time to give the smaller bookstores a little breathing room (although not much chance of that, with Walmart offering Dome for nine bucks.)” He’s referring to the fact that Walmart (as well as Amazon and Target) this week began offering his book, along with nine hot titles, for as little as $8.98. The retail price of King’s book is $35, which means these retailers are taking a loss on each book.

King is not alone in his concern about the impact the $9 price wars will have on traditional booksellers. The recent price-chopping has led the American Booksellers Association, which represents independent bookstores, to file an official complaint with the U.S. Justice Department, charging that the three retail behemoths are engaging in “illegal predatory pricing.” In a letter released yesterday, the ABA went on to say that the practice was “damaging to the book industry and harmful to consumers.” A top publishing executive tells EW: “They had no choice. Bookstores are simply under siege. On one side, they’re facing the threat of e-books, and on the other they’re staring in the face of these three ugly superpowers.” David Young, the CEO of Hachette Book Group USA (publisher of James Patterson’s upcoming I, Alex Cross, another one of the $8.98 titles), told the New York Times: “I do think this massive devaluation of the industry’s crown jewels could very quickly be extremely harmful. And I would not be alone in thinking that.”

How can traditional bookstores compete against giant retailers who are willing to sell books at a loss (a luxury that books-only retailers can’t afford to do)? And is it fair for publishers to fight back by delaying the release of e-book versions of new titles like Under the Dome? What do you think?

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