Stephen King returns with Doctor Sleep

Whether you like spooky stories or not, Stephen King is still one of our great American storytellers, and as long as he keeps writing, I still have faith that the book industry will still have some life in it.

I’ve also always admired how prolific King has been throughout his career, and even if we were back in the era where writers got a penny a word (frankly, we practically still are), he’d still be a very wealthy man from constantly churning it out. 

King has a new book coming this fall (surprised?), and it’s Doctor Sleep, his sequel to The Shining. In Sleep, Danny the psychic kid is all grown up, and as Entertainment Weekly describes the theme of the book, “Dan may have survived his old man’s madness in the hallways of that long-ago snowbound hotel, but he grown up to realize not all demons can be escaped.” 

King was prompted to write Doctor Sleep because fans often asked the same two questions: “Whatever happened to Danny?,” and “How come [his father] Jack Torrance never tried AA?”

Chemical dependency can indeed run in the family, and as King told EW, “Finally I decided ‘Okay, why don’t I use that in the story and just revisit that whole issue? Like father, like son.” 

Indeed, King knows that a sequel to one of his best-known tales “is really dangerous. I think people have a tendency to approach them with a raised eyebrow like, ‘Hmm, if this guy is going back to where he was 30 or 35 years ago he must be low on ideas.’ I don’t feel that way, but I did feel in this case it was a real challenge to go back.” 

King also told EW that going up against one of his classics felt like Rocky fighting Apollo Creed.

“It’s got that reputation,” King said. “When I really got serious about it, I thought to myself, ‘Do I really want to do this? Because most sequels really suck.’” There were two exceptions King thought of that beat the originals, however, namely Huckleberry Finn, and Godfather II.

So in the case of King doing a sequel, it’s not that he’s out of gas, in fact he may have written a whole other book by the time I finished this paragraph. As to whether or not Doctor Sleep can stand toe-to-toe with The Shining or any of King’s other greats, we’ll find out for sure on September 24 when it’s unleashed into the world.