Emma Brockes “Stephen King: on alcoholism and returning to the Shining” http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/sep/21/stephen-king-shining-sequel-interview
Doctor Sleep, his 56th novel, revisits Danny in adulthood, when he has become an alcoholic drifter haunted by the memory of his raging father. The Shining had such resonance – in part because of Kubrick's film, which King disliked – that one returns to the characters with a sense of deep familiarity. In the sequel, Wendy, the mother, is dead from lung cancer and Danny is alone, working in a hospice in a small town, where his paranormal talents help people towards a peaceful death. When Abra, a telepathic child, pushes into his consciousness asking for help, Danny gets sucked back into the terrain of his childhood, battling a bunch of centuries-old serial killers disguised as RV-driving pensioners (it is sometimes easy to overlook how slyly funny King is) who literally feed off the pain of others. "When the disaster was big enough," King writes, "agony and violent death had an enriching quality." They get a big kick out of 9/11.
(…) Danny turns his life around and starts going to AA meetings, where, King writes, he discovers that memories are the "real ghosts". It is a book as extravagantly inventive as any in King's pantheon, and a careful study of self-haunting: "You take yourself with you, wherever you go."
King has been sober for decades, ever since his family staged an intervention in the late 1980s. If he hesitated to write in this much depth about AA, it was only because he wanted to get it right. "The only thing is to write the truth. To write what you know about any particular situation. And I never say to anybody, 'This is all from my experience in AA,' because you don't say that." It was King's 36-year-old son, Owen, who, after reading the first draft of Doctor Sleep, told him there was something missing. "He said that the scene he remembered best from The Shining was the one where Jack Torrance and his friend are out drunk one night and they hit a bicycle and think they've killed a kid. And they say, 'That's the end; we're not going to drink any more.' And Owen said, 'There's no scene that's comparable to that in Doctor Sleep. You ought to see Dan at his worst.' And, as usual, Owen was right."
Almost all his books have been turned into movies, the bulk of which have been successful, although King doesn't bite his tongue when something isn't to his liking. He enjoyed Brian De Palma's 1976 adaptation of Carrie, starring Sissy Spacek. But he "hated" what Stanley Kubrick did to The Shining in 1980: the film turned his novel into "a domestic tragedy with only vaguely supernatural overtones", he said at the time. He also thought Jack Nicholson hammed it up appallingly, and Shelley Duvall as Wendy was "insulting to women. She's basically a scream machine."
Before he became fashionable, he was deeply unfashionable – a nerdy guy writing in a nerdy genre, married with three kids when everyone else in his generation was raging through the 1960s. For a while, he and his wife, Tabitha, lived in a trailer in Herman, Maine (as King once put it, "If not the asshole of the universe, then at least within farting distance of it"). In literary circles, it is a more outlandish background than the most lurid of King's horror stories: Tabitha worked in a Dunkin' Donuts and King supplemented his high school teaching income at a laundry and a filling station. He felt under such tremendous pressure during those years, he says, that it was as if "battery cables were hooked up to your head. Like your brain was a battery."
He was a good teacher – the kids enjoyed his classes – but he felt trapped in the wrong life. "I would teach, and I would come home tired, like I'd been on stage. And then I had to correct papers – more of the same. And there was very little time left for my own work. I can remember thinking, 'Two or three more years of this and I won't be able to write at all.' Because they wanted to give me the debating club, and the play, and stuff like that. There was no discussion of me quitting. We would have had nothing to live on. We were barely making ends meet, living in crappy apartments."
His wife encouraged him to keep at it, and in those early days, King says, he was highly motivated by "this gush of image and story and words. It was like somebody yelled, 'Fire!' in a crowded theatre and everybody's trying to crowd through the door at the same time – that was ideas and work." By their mid-20s, they had two children and were very stretched.
*1:See also http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20060426/1146056553 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20100506/1273160071 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20110523/1306149532 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20110811/1313038555 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20111008/1318015886 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20130603/1370187462
*2:Mentioned in http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20130911/1378921699