We’ve been covering Doctor Sleep quite a bit since it was officially announced last year and will have much more coverage leading up to its release in September. The novel is a sequel to The Shining that follows a 40 year old Danny Torrance and a tribe of psychic vampires.
EW recently caught up with Stephen King and published a lengthy interview, where King talks about his reason for writing a sequel now, re-reading The Shining after all these years, and there’s mention of a ‘Salem’s Lot Easter egg:
At what point did you first consider reviving this character from The Shining?
Every now and then somebody would ask, ‘Whatever happened to Danny?’ I used to joke around and say, ‘He married Charlie McGee from Firestarter and they had these amazing kids!’ But I did sort of wonder about it.
What finally inspired you to explore that question seriously?
Well, the other thing people would ask me is, ‘How come [his father] Jack Torrance never tried AA?’ Because he was this total dry-drunk in the book who never goes anywhere near a meeting. One of the things you hear from people who go into AA, or people who have substance abuse problems, is they say it runs in the family. … When the [sequel] idea would pop up in my mind I would think, ‘Now Danny’s 20, or now he’s 25. … I wonder if he’s drinking like his father?’ Finally I decided ‘Okay, why don’t I use that in the story and just revisit that whole issue? Like father, like son.
The Shining is probably high on the list of favorites among your readers. Did you find that intimidating when deciding to write a sequel?
When I really got serous about it, I thought to myself ‘Do you really want to do this? Because most sequels really suck.’ The only two exceptions I can think to that is Huckleberry Finn, a book that is a sequel to Tom Sawyer but is really a much better book, and I think Godfather IIis a much better movie than The Godfather.
How did you get over that?
I’m not going to kid you — I felt a little bit like Rocky Balboa going up against Apollo Creed! [Laughs] It’s got that kind of reputation. A lot of people who got scared to death by The Shining, they’ll come up to me and say, ‘I read that book when I was at camp when I was 12,’ or ‘I read that when I was in high school at 15, and it really scared the living crap right out of me.’ And [while writing Doctor Sleep] I’m thinking, ‘Those people are now in their 40s and they’ve been exposed to Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees and other stuff. It crossed my mind that they might read the new one and say, ‘Well, this isn’t so scary. I thought he was a scary guy!’ And it’s not so much that I’ve changed, but that they’ve grown up and matured. And they aren’t such easy targets!
I imagine you had to revisit The Shining before starting. How was that experience?
Oh man, that was a real exercise in self-consciousness. Let’s try to remember the guy who wrote this was barely 30 years old. That’s half the age I am now, and more. I’ve learned some new tricks since then, and I’ve lost some of the original urgency that went into the books at that time. I’m not the same man I was, but that was also sort of the attraction for it.
Black House, the book you co-authored with Peter Straub, was a sequel to The Talisman. And you’ve written a couple short stories that follow previous books, so this isn’t totally alien territory for you. Most of your books are interconnected. Familiar characters and places tend to pop up. And The Dark Tower series wove everything together.
My son calls those things Easter eggs. There’s a little ‘Salem’s Lot Easter egg in Doctor Sleep. I don’t know if anyone will spot it or not, but it’s there. All of the books kind of relate to other ones. The only exception is The Stand, where the whole world gets destroyed. I guess it’s sort of like Stephen King World, the malevolent version of Disney World, where everything fits together.
EW has a four page interview with Stephen King, so if this interested you, please check out the rest at the EW website. It has been officially announced that both Scribner and Hodder & Stoughton will publish Doctor Sleep on September 24th. We’ve included the official synopsis below and you can check out our exclusive video of Stephen King reading an excerpt from Doctor Sleep at:
“Stephen King returns to the characters and territory of one of his most popular novels ever, The Shining, in this instantly riveting novel about the now middle-aged Dan Torrance (the boy protagonist of The Shining) and the very special twelve-year-old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals.
On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless—mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and tween Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the “steam” that children with the “shining” produce when they are slowly tortured to death.
Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant “shining” power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes “Doctor Sleep.”
Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of hyper-devoted readers of The Shining and wildly satisfy anyone new to the territory of this icon in the King canon.”