The first TV interview with Stephen King. Produced and aired in 1982, this is arguably the first “sit-down” interview with author Stephen King at his home in Bangor, Maine. Henry Nevison produced this while serving as the radio and television producer for the University of Maine Public Information Office in Orono, Maine.

This is from a 1983 Playboy interview with him, about his young hungry days before he was published. “Sometimes we let fear of failure keep us from embracing our writing and making sacrifices to it. King is the first writer I’ve heard of who let fear of failure drive him to keep writing. For him, it was success or nothing — no other options were tolerable. That attitude made him miserable… but it also got him published.”

How did your marriage stand up under those strains?
Well, it was touch and go for a while there, and things could get pretty tense at home. It was a vicious circle: The more miserable and inadequate I felt about what I saw as my failure as a writer, the more I’d try to escape into a bottle, which would only exacerbate the domestic  stress and make me even more depressed. Tabby was steamed about the booze, of course, but she told me she understood that the reason I drank too much was that I felt it was never going to happen, that I was never going to be a writer of any consequence. And, of course, I feared she was right. I’d lie awake  at night seeing myself at fifty, my hair graying, my jowls thickening, a network of whiskey-ruptured capillaries spiderwebbing across my nose — “drinker’s tattoos,” we call them in Maine — with a dusty trunkful of unpublished novels rotting in the basement, teaching high school English for the rest of my life and getting off what few literary rocks I had left by advising the student newspaper or maybe teaching a creative writing course. Yechh! Even though I was only in my mid-twenties and rationally realized that there was plenty of  time and opportunity ahead, that pressure to break through in my work was building into a kind of psychic crescendo, and when it appeared to be thwarted, I felt desperately depressed, cornered. I felt trapped in a suicidal rat race, with no way  out of the maze.

In the same interview with Playboy in 1983, Stephen King stated: “The real problem is that Kubrick set out to make a horror picture with no apparent understanding of the genre. Everything about it screams that from beginning to end, from plot decision to the final scene – which has been used before on The Twilight Zone.”

“The [horror] genre exists on three basic levels, separate but independent, and each one a little bit cruder than the one before. There’s terror on top, the finest emotion any writer can induce; then horror; and on the very lowest level of all, the gag instinct of revulsion. Naturally, I’ll try to terrify you first, and if that doesn’t work, I’ll try to horrify you, and if I can’t make it there, I’ll try to gross you out.”

‘Stephen King: Shining in the Dark’ (1999). BBC documentary about Stephen King co-produced by The Learning Channel. This BBC Omnibus episode is a detailed biography, with scenes from the many film adaptations of his work including ‘Needful Things’ (1993), ‘The Shining’ (1980), ‘The Green Mile’ (1999), ‘Stand By Me’ (1986), ‘Carrie’ (1976) and ‘Misery’ (1990).

Two years before its release, Stephen King discusses ‘The Shining,’ Jack Nicholson and Stanley Kubrick: Interview with Stephen King, Cinefantastique, 1978 [pdf].



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E. Thompson

I make movies. Sometimes people see them. I have been a martial artist for a very long time. I'm in a personal war with the Oxford comma.

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