With the coronavirus pandemic drawing associations with his epic story of a flu-like virus in The Stand, Stephen King has been regularly sharing his takes on the current situation. Over the last month, King has both moved to reassure people that COVID-19 is nowhere near as deadly as The Stand‘s Captain Trips, as well as sharing some humorous takes on how the lockdown would affect his characters. While the author’s latest book, If It Bleeds, is getting an early publication this month, King is already working on his next effort. However, it seems that the impact of the coronavirus has changed his original plans for the novel.
More specifically, he’d intended his latest book to take place in 2020, but is now revising the plot due to the overwhelming effect of COVID-19 on daily life. Speaking to NPR, King had this to say about the difficulty of writing around the pandemic:
“I set [the novel I’m currently writing] in the year 2020 because I thought, ‘Okay, when I publish it, if it’s in 2021, it will be like in the past, safely in the past.’ And then this thing came along, and I immediately looked back through the copy that I’d written and I saw that one of the things that was going on was that two of my characters had gone on a cruise.. and I thought, ‘Well, no, I don’t think anybody’s going on cruise ships this year.'”
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Instead, King has chosen to push the time period of the book back to 2019, where people gathering in groups and going on cruises is more plausible than the present-day reality we’re all living through. Aside from that, we don’t know much about what King has in store for us, although given the speed by which he writes, we’d expect more rough details to come out during 2020.
If It Bleeds, which will be available from April 28th, is a set of four novellas that echoes previous King collections such as Different Seasons and Four Past Midnight. The stories include “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone,” “The Life of Chuck,” “Rat” and “If It Bleeds”, which will bring back regular King characters Holly Gibney, as well as Ralph Anderson from The Outsider. With King currently promoting the release, expect him to have to field more questions about the relevance of The Stand, especially with a new CBS All Access miniseries adaptation of the novel currently underway.
Let’s hope that people will have recovered enough by then not to find The Stand‘s super-flu plot an unwelcome reminder of how 2020 has so far echoed some of Stephen King‘s more apocalyptic works.