Stephen King: Are you afraid of the dark?
June 15, 2021 5:03 AM   Subscribe

Stephen King: Are you afraid of the dark?


As just another sufferer of pandemic insomnia, I find myself counting the minutes until my local NPR station switches over to the BBC Overnight. Then the wax falls from my ears and I hear what I cannot hope to hear over the air otherwise. If only NPR could operate at this level... The difference is enormous and profound. In my humble opinion.

I found this interview interesting. I hope you do as well.
posted by y2karl (22 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Audio only
posted by y2karl at 5:09 AM on June 15 [2 favorites]

Thanks for this! King's reliably enjoyable to hear from.
posted by BlueNorther at 5:37 AM on June 15

Stephen King is a national treasure.
posted by zardoz at 5:45 AM on June 15 [6 favorites]

his book "on writing" is both a) a great book about writing and b) has a good amount of autobiography in it as well. if you enjoyed this, you'd probably enjoy that.
posted by LegallyBread at 6:18 AM on June 15 [11 favorites]

I liked his polite waving off of the "where do you get your ideas" question that he's clearly been asked one zillion times:

You know, a lot of times when I'm doing interviews or when I'm doing appearances, where there are questions afterwards, somebody will ask, what were you like as a kid? And the subtext to that question is what messed you up so badly that you got twisted and you wrote all these horrible stories.
posted by ook at 6:51 AM on June 15 [1 favorite]

My impression of BBC-nights-NPR is a british dude loudly droning on and on about sports with made-up sounding teams. Dunno why NPR just seems to avoid sports talk 99% of the time but I am grateful for it.

The most surprising thing in this interview is that Stephen King is a kind of a pascal's wagerer type non-specific-deity believer. Can't say I share his perspective on there being no harm or that it seems to help.

Also cracked up at the question about changing American culture, qualified that he is asking because King has been working for that half-century. Just wasn't expecting someone to be asked about their century-scaled opinion.
posted by GoblinHoney at 7:45 AM on June 15

He was interviewed on CBS Sunday morning show. Does not like scares or roller coasters himself. "I build the roller coasters, don't ride them".
posted by sammyo at 9:08 AM on June 15 [2 favorites]

Do you have to push the envelope further than ever before?

No, I don't need to do that because I'm not interested in horror per se. I'm interested in people and what people do, what I would like. For readers to feel when they read one of my books is I would like you to fall in love with the characters and want the best in the world for them. In other words, yes, I'm a horror writer. I won't disagree with that, but what I really want to do is to engage your positive emotions as much as I can so that when terrible things happen. You don't want to see somebody's head come off.

I think that in a way, the Friday, the 13th movies were almost like snuff movies, you didn't go to see the campus at Crystal Lake get away -- you wanted to see them killed and with arrows and buzz saws and chainsaws, and God knows what.

You know, I was in a supermarket down here in Florida. And I came around the corner and there was a woman coming the other way. She pointed at me. She said, "I know who you are. You're Stephen King. You write all those horrible things and that's okay. That's all right. But I like uplifting things like that movie Shawshank Redemption." And I said, "I wrote that" and she said, "no, you didn't."
posted by y2karl at 9:12 AM on June 15 [26 favorites]

Now, that cracked me up.
posted by y2karl at 9:22 AM on June 15 [2 favorites]

The most surprising thing in this interview is that Stephen King is a kind of a pascal's wagerer type non-specific-deity believer. Can't say I share his perspective on there being no harm or that it seems to help.

Stephen King's daughter is a Unitarian Universalist minister. I've always wondered how a) her upbringing brought her to that, and b) if, and how, that might have turned around and affected her family. (I also wonder if AA/NA influence King's non-specific deity belief, given that belief in a higher power is so baked into that culture.)
posted by dlugoczaj at 9:33 AM on June 15 [2 favorites]

y2kari: The BBC puts a lot online. I don't know whether you have access.

GoblinHoney: The BBC does a little sports, but it's more like 15 minutes of current news at the end of the first or second hour, and "Sporting Witness" which I think is only once or twice a week.

LegallyBread: I liked On Writing, especially the part about symbolism being a way of sharpening a story which already works, not something which is added on.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 9:58 AM on June 15 [2 favorites]

Thanks for including the transcript link.
posted by booooooze at 2:08 PM on June 15 [2 favorites]

what were you like as a kid? And the subtext to that question is what messed you up so badly that you got twisted and you wrote all these horrible stories.
posted by ook

IIRC in On Writing he describes a horrible ear infection and the doctors that inflicted much pain upon him as a young child. That has to count for something.
posted by Splunge at 3:27 PM on June 15

Tbh, I had the impression from On Writing that the primary source for Kingian horror was cocaine, more than anything else
posted by kaibutsu at 6:57 PM on June 15 [1 favorite]

Adding the CBS Sunday Morning Stephen King interview youtube link here. Also, this article pretty much has it all.
posted by gudrun at 6:04 AM on June 16

I like Stephen King okay. He makes some good points. He's a little too prone to kill off a child or an innocent early in the book in order to hook the reader and set the tone, which I find annoying, but that's just me. Not because I'm sentimental. My idea of a happy ending is "And then everybody in the world died" or "And then the monsters lived happily ever after, until one of them ate the other one by mistake."

A normal childhood is plenty source material for all the horror one can imagine. So can a normal adulthood. All you have to do is disengage the clutch and keep your foot off the brake.

I wrote a neat little story once that I was rather tickled with, a dark thing with an unexpected resolution, and my sister, when she read it, assumed it was about my neuro-atypical processing style and my relationship with my dysfunctional father. No, it was a story.
posted by Peach at 7:41 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]

I don't like it when he kills the family pet in his stories. And he seems to kill family pets pretty often.
posted by all about eevee at 11:03 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]

Sometimes they come back.
posted by y2karl at 1:18 PM on June 16 [6 favorites]

Sometimes they come back.

Sometimes dead is better, not always. Yay zombie cat!
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:35 PM on June 16 [1 favorite]

The fight with the troll in Cat’s Eye is a win moment for the family pet, though.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:56 AM on June 17 [2 favorites]

^ I was obsessed with the film adaptation. Something about my age at the time (a little too old for it, but just young enough to get the first hint of wistfulness for things that have passed), and the build-up to a heroic household cat battling an evil little life-sucking goblin.. I honestly think that was the last time my brain neurons fired in quite that way, then I quickly succumbed to The Jadedness.
posted by elkevelvet at 8:25 AM on June 17

Can’t wait to listen to this when I get a chance! I loved On Writing, it’s one of the few books I have that has survived a couple of book purges required by moving across the country.

At one point post-college I could boast that I’d read everything King had written, but then he started writing them faster than I was reading them. While I still pick up his stuff now and then, it doesn’t hit like it used to. And I ascribe this entirely to the fact that he’s such a success that no editor dares to tell him he should cut his 800 page manuscript down to a lean 600 pages. Seriously, I read Under the Dome, it did not have to be 800 pages.
posted by ejs at 6:23 PM on June 17

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