NEW YORK (AP) – Stephen King doesn’t consider himself a horror writer.
“My opinion has always been that you can call me whatever you want as long as the checks don’t bounce,” King told The Associated Press in a recent telephone interview. “My idea is to tell a good story, and if it crosses certain lines and doesn’t fit into a particular genre, that’s good.”
Readers may know him best for “Carrie,” “The Shining,” and other bestsellers commonly identified as “horror,” but King has long had an affinity for other types of storytelling, from science- Boston Red Sox fiction and prison drama.
Over the past decade, he has written three novels for the Hard Case Crime imprint: “Joyland,” “The Colorado Kid” and “Later,” which is released this week. He loves sharing an editor with giants from the past such as James M. Cain and Mickey Spillane, and loves the old-fashioned pulp illustrations used on the covers.
At the same time, he enjoys writing a crime story that is more than a crime story – or hardly a crime story.
“Joyland” is a thriller set around an amusement park and could just as easily be called a coming-of-age story. “The Colorado Kid” has a corpse on an island off the coast of King’s native Maine, but otherwise serves to explain why some cases are best left unresolved.
“It’s the beauty of the mystery that allows us to live healthily as we pilot our fragile bodies through this world of demolition derby,” he writes in the book’s afterword.
His new novel contains a lot of crime but, as King’s narrator suggests, it could actually be a horror story. Jamie Conklin reflects on his childhood, when he was raised by a single mother, a literary New Yorker agent. Like other young King protagonists, Jamie has special powers: not only can he see the dead, but when he asks them questions, they are compelled to speak the truth.
“Later” also features a successful novelist and his posthumous book, as well as a police detective who for a time is the girlfriend of Jamie’s mother.
The 73-year-old king has written dozens of novels and stories, and typically has three to four ideas that “are half-baked, kind of like an engine and no transmission.” He doesn’t write down ideas because, he says, if something is good enough, he’s unlikely to forget it.
For “Later” he started with the idea of a literary agent who needed to finish his late client’s manuscript, and thought of having a son who communicates with the dead. He then decided that the mother needed a companion.
“And I thought, ‘You know what, I’m going to make the romantic relationship a woman.’ Then I thought ‘cop’, and the cop is dirty and everything fell into place, ”he says.
King, who publishes most of his work with Simon & Schuster, is part of the founding story of Hard Case Crime. In 2004, Charles Ardai and Max Phillips launched a line of books to “bring pulp fiction to life in all its ominous mid-century glory.” Hoping for some publicity, they wrote to King and asked for a blurb. A representative for the author called and said King did not want to write blurb for Hard Case Crime; he wanted to contribute a book. It became “The Colorado Kid”.
“I sat on the other end of the phone as it crept in and tried to sound cool, like this was the kind of phone call I got every day and twice on Friday,” Ardai wrote in an introduction to “The Colorado Kid”. which came out in 2005. “But inside I was spinning cart wheels.”
King’s passions also include politics and current affairs, and over the past few years he has regularly tweeted his contempt for President Donald Trump …
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