Stephen King’s newest novel End of Watch (which arrived in bookstores earlier this month) is the concluding chapter in his Mr. Mercedes trilogy, centered around a demented killer and the retired police officer obsessed with tracking him down. The author spoke to Rolling Stone about his new book, his views on Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the inspiration behind his next work and his favorite Dr. Seuss book.
What’s the best part of success and the worst part?
The best part of success is getting paid for what I would probably do for free. I really enjoy the job. I like making shit up. The worst part of the job … this is weird, but I’m going to probably go see the Red Sox play this weekend. These autograph people always show up in front of the hotel and I can’t go out and get a sandwich. I can’t go out to a movie without brushing these people off. It makes you feel like you’re on stage, when you don’t want to be on stage.
The selfies must be annoying too.
Yeah. Selfies are not good. Everybody has a cellphone now. But the autograph people will say, please sign this poster from Firestarter for my sick grandmother who is going to die in two years. You know damn well it’s something they’re going to sell on eBay. I love that I’m able to entertain people and a lot of folks read my books. I’m just saying that the ideal thing would be if nobody knew who the fuck I was. I’d like that. [Pause] You know, a lot of people are going to probably read this and roll their eyes and say, “I wish I had such problems.” I understand that. At the same time, after 25 to 30 years, it gets a little old.
How would your life have gone if you hadn’t become a writer?
I would have been a perfectly adequate high school English teacher, possibly a college English teacher. I probably would have died of alcoholism around age 50. And I’m not sure my marriage would have lasted. I think people are extremely hard to live with when they have a talent they aren’t able to use.
What’s the best advice you ever got?
It boils down to what Satchel Paige said: “Don’t look back, something might be gaining on you.” There will be people who like what you do and people who don’t. But if they’re picking over the last thing and you’re working on the next thing, that’s all yours.
Who are your heroes?
David Ortiz [of the Boston Red Sox] is one. He’s great at what he does, and he never lost his common touch. Cormac McCarthy is a fantastic writer, a fantastic entertainer, and he always did things his way. If we’re talking filmmakers, Martin Scorsese. In my new book, End of Watch, one of the characters says most moviemakers make short stories and Scorsese does novels.