"It's good to be the King"(「キャリー」出版から35周年記念コラム)
Years ago, you said you were the literary equivalent of a Big Mac and fries. Do you still see yourself as that?
To a degree, yeah, I do. I want people to wolf everything down. It's a good thing when you're driving along, you have your Quarter Pounder or your Big Mac, and then you're fishing around in the bottom of the bag for the last two or three french fries because, damn, those french fries are good! It might not be cordon bleu, but it can be pretty good stuff.
Did you ever want to be cordon bleu, though?
Yes. And I still do. That's the idea of every book, to write a great book -- never to just phone it in, but to write a book that should not just be nominated for the National Book Award but win it.
had both short stories and novels adapted into movies, but can
Hollywood types wrap their brains around a short story better?
Most of the time they do. The thing is, when it comes to movies and books, it can be very difficult for Hollywood people to take a novel and turn it into a two-hour movie. They've had a lot of trouble with my stuff because they see the basic idea and they get excited by the visual aspects of it. But with some of the shorter things, like "Shawshank Redemption" or "The Body," which became "Stand by Me," if you give filmmakers something that's smaller, sometimes when they add their own stuff, it's better.
I have always heard that you never really liked Stanley Kubrick's version of "The Shining."
My problem with "The Shining" was never the adaptation. I certainly didn't mind the idea that it was more psychological than supernatural. What I didn't like was that I thought it was cold, and I always resented that. I'm an emotional writer. I think that's why I've written so many things that people term "scary" or "horror." I'm not that interested in what you think all the time, but I am interested in what you feel.
marks the 35th anniversary of your first published novel, "Carrie."
Legend has it your wife rescued the manuscript you had thrown in the
It was four pages, but they were, like, single-spaced. We didn't waste paper in those days. Now I'm apt to end up at the end of a week with a whole wastepaper basket full of balls of paper. Back then, you wrote on the back of milk receipts and everything else. But yeah, she pulled it out of the trash.
What did she say to you about those four pages that made you reconsider?
One of the reasons that I've probably been successful is that I really want to please people. And, of course, one of the reasons that made me such a good alcoholic for so many years is that I'm a people-pleaser: I want people to be happy with what I do. Tabby fished them out of the trash and said, "This is good; you should go on." If somebody says, basically, "You're entertaining me; I would like more of this," then I'm very happy to do that.
How much has that happened with your books over the course of 35 years?
All of them. She reads everything. When somebody will write me a letter and say, "I'm your No. 1 fan," I always laugh a little bit. They'll say, "I've read everything you've written," but the only two people in the universe who have read everything I've written are me and my wife. She's sharp and opinionated. She's not a bit afraid of me. I don't take all of the advice she gives me, and I usually get the sharp side of her tongue when I don't, but most of it I do, because it makes sense.
Do you feel everybody has a Stephen King retirement watch going?
I do think there is a little bit. And in some ways, it's not such a bad thing. People look on writers that they like as an irreplaceable resource. I do. Elmore Leonard, every day I wake up and -- not to be morbid or anything, although morbid is my life to a degree -- don't see his obituary in the paper, I think to myself, "Great! He's probably working somewhere. He's gonna produce another book, and I'll have another book to read." Because when he's gone, there's nobody else. I think there's a positive side to it. Maybe I have to. But I don't think people are out there saying, "Holy [cow], pretty soon he's going to retire, and we won't have to worry about him anymore."