Stephen King Is “Sorry” That It Feels Like We’re in One Of His Stories


Stephen King at the Los Angeles premiere of “The Manchurian Candidate,” Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences, Beverly Hills, CA 07-22-04

With everyone stuck indoors thanks to Covid-19 and our societies and economies in the gutter, not even to mention the horrible sickness and death many infected by the virus it might appear to some that we’re living in a novel by Stephen King. The current pandemic could almost feel like a tamer version of the opening to ‘The Stand’ if only because the death toll is lower.

You might wonder what the author feels about that. Well, recently King was interviewed by NPR and shared that, “I keep having people say, ‘Gee, it’s like we’re living in a Stephen King story, and my only response to that is, ‘I’m sorry.'”

King did go on to say that a pandemic was “bound to happen” and that “There was never any question that in our society, where travel is a staple of daily life, that sooner or later, there was going to be a virus that was going to communicate to the public at large.” From books to films to guidelines put in place by both businesses and the CDC, this doesn’t come as that much of a surprise. We’re still in the middle of it, and the economic effects will be felt for likely years to come; however, many have been surprised at home tame this almost is.

We don’t have a zombie outbreak.
We don’t have people dying in the billions.

What we do have is a virus that has a high spread rate that could easily overwhelm our healthcare system if we let it spread and the only way to stop it is to tank our economy and put a lot of people either out of work or in harm’s way. Hopefully, our governments and businesses will all learn a few lessons from this before the next time a pandemic occurs.

For the current situation though, King went on to share how this pandemic could be viewed a couple of decades from now in that:

“For me, as a guy who is in his 70s now, I can remember my mother talking about the Great Depression. It made a scar. It left trauma behind. And I think that … my granddaughter — who can’t see her friends, can only Skype them once in a while. She’s stuck in the house … when [she’s grown and] her children say, “Oh my God, I’m so bored, I can’t go out!” … [my granddaughter] is going to say, “You should have been around in 2020, because we were stuck in the house for months at a time! We couldn’t go out. We were scared of germs!”

For the authors out there, a key point he brings up is also how writing itself can be viewed as an escape from reality, and I feel that this will be important to many reading this site:

“Twenty hours a day, I live in the same reality that everybody else lives in. But for four hours a day, things change. And if you ever asked me how that happens or why it happens, I’d have to tell you it’s as much a mystery to me as it is to anybody else. … And in all the years that I’ve been doing this — since I discovered the talent when I was 7 or 8 years old — I still feel much the same as I did in the early days, which is I’m going to leave the ordinary world for my own world. And it’s a wonderful, exhilarating experience. I’m very grateful to be able to have it.”

King also isn’t experiencing much in the way of fear or anxiety from the pandemic. I feel there is a strong mix of those who are essential workers who do feel this and those who have the luxury of staying at home out there. King’s issue falls likely more into the second category where:

“What I’m living with and what I suspect a lot of people are living with right now is cabin fever. … But to be in the house day after day, all I can say is I’ve made wonderful progress on a novel, because there’s really not too much to do and it’s a good way to get away from the fear. It’s not panic. It’s not terror that I feel that I think most people feel, it’s a kind of gnawing anxiety where you say to yourself, I shouldn’t go out. If I do go out, I might catch this thing, or I might give it to somebody else.”

For anyone wondering if writing horror is a waste of time when the world has been turned upside down, King does feel that there is a strong argument for it in that:

“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.”

You can listen to the full interview right here and it’s a great use of 42-minutes of your time!

Do you feel that the current global situation feels like something out of one of Stephen King’s works? What do you think society will think of the pandemic down the line? If you’ve been able to write, has it been an escape from our current reality for you? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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