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Friday, May 19, 2017

Stephen King Fills 2017 with His Brand of Horror

Written by Jon Williams

Call it a hunch, but we’re guessing that a lot of your patrons are Stephen King fans. Luckily for those patrons, there’s plenty of recent and upcoming King material to keep them quivering in fear for quite some time.

To start, we need to go back almost to the very beginning. Now, of course, King is a well-known, bestselling author with more than fifty books to his credit, but that wasn’t always the case. The Dead Zone was just the fourth novel King published under his own name. Released in 1979, it deals with a young man both gifted and cursed with psychic abilities after a catastrophic car accident. The novel spawned both a 1983 movie and a 2002 TV series that ran for six seasons, but it has never been available in audiobook format until now. This classic is narrated by actor James Franco.

There’s also plenty of new material from King. His latest release, out this week, is Gwendy’s Button Box, a novella written with help from publisher, editor, and fellow horror writer Richard Chizmar. The story takes place in Castle Rock, Maine, a familiar setting for King fans. The Dead Zone was set in Castle Rock, as were Cujo, The Dark Half, and a number of novellas and short stories scattered throughout his collections. The 1991 novel Needful Things was originally billed as “the last Castle Rock story,” but apparently he wasn’t done with the little town after all.

And that’s not the only collaboration King has on his docket. Coming this September is Sleeping Beauties, a new novel written in tandem with his son Owen King. It details a dystopian future in which all women (except one!) fall prey to a strange cocooned state while they sleep, and men are left to their own devices. Of course, King is no stranger to this type of collaboration, having teamed up with his other son, author Joe Hill, for the short stories “Throttle” and “In the Tall Grass.”

As popular as his books are, when it comes to Stephen King, they’re only part of the story. Another part is all the adaptations that have taken his work from the page to screens both big and small. In that regard, there’s a pretty full slate on the horizon. First up is The Mist, a ten-episode series premiering on Spike on June 22. The novella, available on its own or collected with other short stories in Skeleton Crew, was previously made into a movie in 2007. Then, on August 9, Mr. Mercedes comes to the Audience Network, based on the first book of a trilogy King wrote about a retired detective facing off against a twisted killer.

In addition to regular TV, fans can also look to the streaming services for some upcoming adaptations. Coming to Netflix later this year is Gerald’s Game, the story of a woman who is trapped handcuffed to a bed after her husband dies suddenly. Much of the novel takes place within main character Jessie Burlingame’s head, so it will be interesting to see how it translates to the screen. Also coming to Netflix in 2017 is 1922, about a man who is convinced his murdered wife is haunting him. It’s based on a novella in Full Dark, No Stars, which also contains the story that was the basis for the movie A Good Marriage. Then, beginning production later this year with no set debut date, is the Hulu series Castle Rock. Not much is known about it other than the setting, the small Maine town mentioned above, but the first teaser contained elements of King classics like Misery and plenty of others.

And speaking of King classics, one of the biggest (both literally and figuratively) is coming to theatres on September 8. It, the epic novel about a shape-shifting creature that feeds on children and the gang of outcast kids that decide enough is enough, has engendered a fear of clowns in readers since its release in 1986. It’s a whopper: the print edition comes in at over 1,000 pages, and the audiobook narration takes up 35 discs. A previous adaptation came in the form of a 3-hour miniseries in 1990, and this time around will be split into two feature films, with the second installment coming in 2018.

And then there’s The Dark Tower…but we’ll have more to say about that soon. In the meantime, make sure you have plenty of Stephen King material on your shelves for patrons to explore and enjoy as these new works and adaptations come along. And don’t be surprised if some of them ask you if they can check out a nightlight, too.

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