When the coronavirus pandemic first arrived, many of us found ourselves abruptly pulled away from our vibrant social lives, and locked up indoors with only our thoughts to keep us company. For Stephen King, however, such a predicament meant nothing new. That’s not to say he particularly likes being alone with himself, though. On the contrary, in a recent interview with The Late Show, the acclaimed horror writer shared which of his countless literary creations he would least prefer to board with during these trying times.
Surprise, surprise: the character that topped off his list was the antagonist from Misery, Annie Wilkes, a psychotic middle-aged woman who kidnaps and mutilates her favorite author so he can write his stories the way she wants him to, no questions asked. The personification of both writer’s block and the toxic relationships between artists and their admirers, Ms. Wilkes probably wouldn’t be welcome at the King residence ever – coronavirus or not.
“It’s not even close,” King told Stephen Colbert. “I wouldn’t want to be quarantined with Annie Wilkes because she would think that I was a cockadoodie brat and then she would say, ‘Stephen, I have a wonderful idea for a book and I want you to write it our I’ll cut off your foot.’ So I wouldn’t want to be quarantined with her.”
Interestingly, King went on to confess that he wouldn’t want to be stuck with Jack Torrance either, as he’d be worried the successful writer – surely modeled in part after himself – would be “all work and no play.” As to the question of whom he would tolerate in close quarters, King mentioned that Holly Gibney, the main character from the titular story of his upcoming anthology If It Bleeds, would, aside a few “OCD bells and whistles,” make a pretty decent companion.
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Elsewhere in the interview, Colbert and King reflected on the similarities between the current situation and the latter’s novel The Stand, a post-apocalyptic story which explores the consequences of a weaponized pandemic that wipes out the better part of civilization. In the exchange that followed, Stephen King not only explained where the inspiration for his story came from, but also gave up his two cents regarding the future of our very own, very non-fictional health crisis.
“People will come along and say through their little masks, ‘I feel like I’m living in a Stephen King story,’ and my response is, ‘I’m sorry for that.’ But when I wrote that, back in the ’70s, I had this idea based on a chemical spill in Utah and I went to a doctor that I knew and I said, ‘Could you give me a scenario for a pandemic that wipes out 99% of the earth’s population?’ and his eyes lit up. I mean, they love that sort of apocalyptic ‘what if?’ scenario. And he said, ‘Well, the flu would be the best thing. It’s a virus, it’s not dead, it’s not alive, nobody really knows what it is. But the thing about the flu is that it’s the gift that keeps on giving because, every year, it comes back but it comes back in a different form so that you need a different shot for it.'”
Tell us, though, of all the author’s characters, which one would you not want to be stuck with in quarantine? Share your thoughts in the usual place below.