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The View interview

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Interview conducted by Stephen King with the cast of The View on 13 November 2009. Video available at youtube.


WHOOPI GOLDBERG: Well…you know, nothing can put a bigger smile on my face on my birthday than a visit from one of the only men who has made a career of scaring me to bejesus. I'm telling you. Please welcome one of my favorite authors, the author of the new book Under the Dome, the fabulous, scary Stephen King.

[KING TAKES THE STAGE; AUDIENCE CHEERS]

GOLDBERG: See the girls, see the ladies, see…

SHERRI SHEPHERD: You touched hands.

GOLDBERG: Now, I have to say, man, this book is…this is a big-ass book.

SHEPHERD: Yeah.

STEPHEN KING: It's a big-ass book.

GOLDBERG: It is five…it's like a thousand pages.

KING: It was even longer in the first draft.

GOLDBERG: Really?

KING: Yeah, I got the first draft sitting at home on a hassock, and my wife keeps saying, "Move that thing!" I can't say I can, it's too big.

GOLDBERG: It's amazing, I mean, I don't really have a question, it's just…the Stand was another really hefty, great book of yours.

JOY BEHAR: Yeah.

GOLDBERG: What…where does…what…where…how…what…?

[AUDIENCE LAUGHS]

KING: Well, you know, one of the things that happened to me was a lot of people said, "Why do you keep writing these little ones? Why don't you write another big one like the Stand or It or something like that?" So finally I said, well, okay. Okay. Once you get a certain number of characters, and…the book only covers a week in what happens in this town after this Dome comes down over the town. And I was thinking at first that it would be a year. Can you imagine? It would be like this…[mimicks three-foot-thick book]…like this…

[AUDIENCE LAUGHS]

SHEPHERD: Oh my God…

THORSTEN KAYE: You said in an interview that, um, you…you thought of this in, like, `73 was when you came up with the idea, and then—

KING: `76, actually.

KAYE: `76 when you wrote it, or when you started writing it?

KING: I got about 75 pages in, and I stopped, and then I tried again. We were making a movie called Creepshow

GOLDBERG: Yeah. Yes.

KING: And I was living in this terrible apartment building in Pittsburgh, and I thought, "I'll set it in this apartment building an call it the Cannibals." And you know where that one as going.

SHEPHERD: Yeah.

KING: And then…

BEHAR: I have to ask you…

KING: And then…

BEHAR: oh, sorry…

KING: No, no, that's okay, but…years later I came back to it, and finally, I sat down, two years, and wrote the book. I gave it to my sister-in-law; my sister-in-law says, "Oh, a town under a dome, it's just like the Simpsons."

[AUDIENCE LAUGHS; KING MIMICKS SHOOTING HIMSELF]

BEHAR: Okay, this is my question…well, before I ask you about that, I want to ask you: do you think about sex every seven or eight seconds?

[AUDIENCE LAUGHS]

KING: I think I did until I was forty.

[AUDIENCE LAUGHS]

SHEPHERD: And then what happened?

BEHAR: It declined.

KING: Then the period…the interval started to grow a little bit bigger.

BEHAR: Then it became every seven weeks.

KING: But, you know, the thing is: maybe men think about it as often, but I don't think that you actually get involved in it so often.

SHEPHERD: Yeah, that's…that's true. I agree with that.

KAYE: It's a lot of work.

SHEPHERD: Lot of work.

[AUDIENCE LAUGHS; KAYE HIGH-FIVE'S KING]

GOLDBERG: It's not supposed to be a job.

KING: I was just going to say: speak for yourself.

SHEPHERD: Stephen…

KAYE: Oh, sorry. I thought we had a bond there.

SHEPHERD: Stephen, I just…I'm just so verklempt right now because I'm such a fan of your work. It was one of my favorites.

KING: Ah, God bless you.

SHEPHERD: But you have, in, in this book…you have over one-hundred characters in the book. How do you keep one-hundred char— [Goldberg passes books to Shepherd] —wow…characters, uh, just, organized in your mind. Do you have to map it out, or…?

KING: Nah, I had them on a yellow legal pad.

[AUDIENCE LAUGHS]

SHEPHERD: You do?

KING: Yeah, I…

BEHAR: You write longhand.

KING: Well, I don't write longhand, but I write my notes longhand. I have a legal pad, and I tried to keep the names straight. And I would write down where they came into the story, and then every so often you say, well, "I ought to go back and visit with these people again." It's really like living in a small town.

BEHAR: I don't know where you get this imagination. If I had that…your particular imagination, I'd be in a mental hospital.

[AUDIENCE LAUGHS]

BEHAR: How do you stay sane when you're really delving into the pathologies of the world all the time?

KING: Well, instead of a mental hospital, I go on talk shows.

[AUDIENCE LAUGHS]

BEHAR: So do we. Believe me.

GOLDBERG: You…not only are you one of the most prolific authors, but you've been really successful. I mean success after success: the Shining, Carrie, Misery, Pet Sematary, Firestarter

BEHAR: Doris Claiborne.

GOLDBERG: — Cujo, Dolores Claiborne…Dolores.

BEHAR: I love that one.

GOLDBERG: "Shawshank Redemption", the ten gr…the Green Mile. Let's start…what are your favorites? I mean, your first book was Carrie, and I heard that, uh, Tabitha, your wife, was the one who really made you finish the book. Is that so?

KING: That is true. I, uh, had this idea because I'd gotten a part-time job as a janitor at a high-school. And, uh, I was working with a guy who was a lot older and we were cleaning out the girls' locker room, and I said, "What's that dispenser on the wall? Is that, like, snacks, or something like that?"

[AUDIENCE LAUGHS]

KING: Guy broke up. He said, "It's tampons." And the whole idea just kind of jumped into my mind.

BEHAR: Wow. You never know where these ideas are going to come from.

KING: You never know where they're going to come from.

KAYE: So can I…you talked about missing a fat pitch...like a, like a, uh, a baseball player would miss a fat pitch.

KING: Yeah.

KAYE: What's a fat pitch to a writer? What does that mean?

KING: Dome was a fat pitch. I mean, in `76 when I had the idea originally, and I thought about this little town under the dome, there was a lot going on then about, uh, the…economy, and acid rain, and the whole environmental thing, and I thought, you know, you could take a town, and put it under a dome, because in a sense, we're all under a dome. We have this little blue planet that we live on, uh…the population keeps growing, the resources keep shrinking, and it makes people nasty.

SHEPHERD: Mm-hmm.

KING: You know, and I thought this would make one hell of a story, so…I tried it, and it was just too much, and when I came back to it, I was a few years older, the way we all are.

GOLDBERG: Yes.

SHEPHERD: I wanted to, uh, ask you… About ten years ago, you were involved in a horrific accident. You were hit by a van. You nearly died. You had 25 bone fractures. You had a collapsed lung, a dislocated hip, and your right leg was shattered. And I remember, you were saying that you'd thought about giving up writing.

KING: Mm-hmm.

SHEPHERD: How…how was that? Why…why did you not want to write?

KING: Well I was in a lot of pain. And I was on a lot of dope, too. And the two things together slow you down. A lot. And I just felt miserable a lot of the time. And then I started to come out of it, and I got interested in what I was doing again. It's wonderful when you feel good, and I feel good now, so that's…that's great.

BEHAR: You seem like you feel very good.

'GOLDBERG: I gotta ask you how you felt about the Shining being…really being called the scariest movie…being named the scariest movie of all time—

KING: I saw that.

GOLDBERG: —by Entertainment Weekly. I mean, I have to say: it is a scary movie. The Shining and the Exorcist are pretty much on par for me.

The Exorcist' just absolutely terrifies me.

Isn't that the scariest movie?

It is. But the thing about the Shining was…the idea behind the book was that this guy would be going up to this hotel, and he'd starting to get a little bit better after this bout with alcoholism, and the hotel would drive him crazy. And when I saw the movie, and Jack Nicholson comes on in the first scene, and is like…[mimicks Nicholson's expression]

[AUDIENCE LAUGHS]

KING: I'm thinking, "He's crazy already."

[AUDIENCE LAUGHS, CHEERS]

GOLDBERG: You know what? I have to tell you, very few things make me happier than reading a good Stephen King novel. And I assume the same will be for you, so everyone is going home with Stephen's new book, Under the Dome.

[AUDIENCE CHEERS]

GOLDBERG: And we'll be back with the coolest gadgets I want to have for my birthday.

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