After recent sojourns into comic books, playwriting and political activism Stephen King is going back to his roots in 2013 with Doctor Sleep: the long-awaited sequel to The Shining he’s promised will “scare the s**t out of people”.
Perhaps his most famous novel (even discounting the efforts of Stanley Kubrick and Jack Nicholson), The Shining (1977) told the story of Jack Torrance, a man who takes his family to the haunted Overlook Hotel only to descend in to madness.
Doctor Sleep, which is due to be published on 24 September, picks up the story with Danny, Jack’s psychic son, who is now middle aged and working in a hospice when he becomes involved in trying to save a little girl afflicted with the evil power that gave the original its title.
King, 65, told Entertainment Weekly: “Basically, the idea of the story was to try and scare the s–t out of people. I said to myself, ‘Let me see if I can go and do that again.’
“I wanted to go back to that real creepy scary stuff. We’ll see if it works.”
The world’s most famous novelist recently published a passionate essay in support of the gun control following the school massacre at Sandy Hook called ‘Guns’, which appeared as an ebook.
It followed the musical ‘Ghost Brothers of Darkland County’, which ran in 2012, and 2011’s comic 'American Vampire' in marking a period of experimentation for master of America’s nightmares - though he also found time to write installment of his science fiction series The Dark Tower and a horror novella called 'A Face in the Crowd'.
Despite being as prolific as ever, the decision to return to write a sequel to one his best-loved books was, he said, a daunting one.
“When I really got serous about it, I thought to myself ‘Do you really want to do this? Because most sequels really suck,’” he told EW.
“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 II is a much better movie than The Godfather.”
Whether he can join those in the pantheon of great sequels with 'Doctor Sleep' remains to be seen, but whatever the outcome, he confirmed it may not be the last time he revisits his back catalogue.
"I wouldn't say I'd never go back and do a sequel to anything else. I do wonder about some of the characters," he said, perhaps raising the tantalising proposition of finding out whether Paul Sheldon ever got over Annie Wilkes, Carrie’s powers ever turned up in another teenager or, worst of all, if Cujo left any puppies behind…
King's first novel to be published was <em>Carrie</em>, which started life as a short story. Fed up with his slow writing progress King threw an early draft of the story in the trash. Luckily for us, his wife retrieved it and persuaded him to make a novel out of it. The book went on to sell sixteen million copies. What a Carrie on!
Derry and Castle Rock in Maine serve as settings in many of King's works, including<em> It </em>and <em>Insomnia</em> but they are completely fictional places. Many fans have tried to work out where they would be in real life.
As a small boy, King is said to have witnessed his friend being hit by a train and killed, though he himself has absolutely no memory of the incident. His family recalls him coming home speechless and suffering from evident shock - it was only later that they learned what had happened. Did this traumatic event inspire some of King's darker imaginings?
When King's family piled the evidence of his addictions - cigarette butts, beer cans, grams of cocaine and marijuana - on the rug in front if him, their message finally got through. Since the late 1980s King has been sober. IMAGE: Wikimedia
In 2008 King raised his concerns about a bill pending in Massachusetts that proposed to ban the sale of violent video games to anyone under 18. He claimed that the bill was an attempt to scapegoat popular culture and that violence in video games only reflects the violence that already exists in society. Guns, he thought, would be more worth banning. IMAGE: Wikimedia
In 1999 King received serious injuries, which threatened to put an end to his career, when he was hit by a minivan while walking by the roadside. To stop the van from appearing on eBay, his lawyers purchased it and had it pulped, much to King's disappointment as he'd dreamed of beating it to pulp himself, with a baseball bat. IMAGE: Press Association Images
In 2008 King came under attack from right-wing bloggers, when a clip of him encouraging a group of high-school students to read, get an education and expand their prospects was posted online. It seems that using the American army as an example of a dumping ground for the uneducated doesn't always go down well. IMAGE: Mark Lennihan/AP/Press Association Images
Not one to miss a trick, King was making a buck as a writer at a young age. He started writing for fun at school and would sell stories based on movies to his classmates. When the teachers found out they confiscated his cash. An early lesson in publishing perhaps? IMAGE: Claude Haller/Claude Haller/EMPICS Entertainment
Stephen King has a habit of going under cover. That is, he has written under various pseudonyms throughout his career, the most notable being Richard Bachman, which he used in the late 70s and early 80s as an experiment to see if he could replicate his own success. He succeeded, but was duly exposed by a particularly keen-eyed bookstore clerk. IMAGE: AP/Press Association Images
Stephen King was born in Maine and he still lives there. He and his wife Tabitha have three properties: two in Maine and a waterfront mansion in Florida where they spend holidays. It's all a far cry from his humble childhood homes. IMAGE: Wikimedia
When Stephen King was two his father left the family home in Maine supposedly to buy a packet of cigarettes. He never came back. King was raised by his mother who often struggled to make ends meet.