Stephen King is already working on his next novel – because of course he is – but he’s had to make some changes due to the coronavirus pandemic. Yes, we’ve reached the point where the real world is so scary that King has to adjust his tales of terror to accurately reflect that. The prolific author also offered an apology to everyone who thinks we’re currently stuck in a real-life Stephen King story.
Do you find yourself watching movies and TV shows right now, seeing crowds of extras milling about, and suddenly thinking, “That doesn’t look right”? Well, Stephen King is right there with you. The author, who is out promoting his new novella collection If It Bleeds, revealed that he’s had to change the new novel he’s working on because of how much coronavirus has upended our daily lives.
“I set [the book I’m working on] in the year 2020 because I thought, ‘OK, when I publish it, if it’s in 2021, it will be like in the past, safely in the past,’” the master of horror told NPR. But of course, coronavirus changed all that:
“And then this thing came along, and I immediately looked back through the copy that I’d written and I saw that one of the things that was going on was that two of my characters had gone on a cruise. … And I thought, ‘Well, no, I don’t think anybody’s going on cruise ships this year.’ And so I looked at everything and I immediately set the book in 2019, where people could congregate and be together and the story would work because of that.”
King’s books – no matter how supernatural they may get – are always grounded in some form of reality. That’s what usually makes them so memorable – you can easily see the real world in the fictional world he’s building. So while he could’ve easily gotten away with having his next book set in 2020 because it’s a work of fiction, it makes total sense to want to adjust things to keep the story believable.
Meanwhile, in the same interview, King also offers an apology of sorts, since the world now feels like we’re stuck in a Stephen King story (like The Stand, for instance).
“I keep having people say, ‘Gee, it’s like we’re living in a Stephen King story,’ ” he said. “And my only response to that is, ‘I’m sorry.’” However, King also talked about the role (fictional) horror can play during horrific times like these:
“Well, they’re like dreams, aren’t they? You’re able to go into a world that you know is not real. But if the artist is good — the filmmaker or the novelist or maybe even the painter — for a little while, you’re able to believe that world, because the picture of it and the depiction of it is so real that you can go in there. And yet there’s always a part of your mind that understands that it’s not real, that it’s make-believe.”
If It Bleeds arrives on April 21.
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