Stephen King Reveals in His First TV Interview Whether He Sleeps With the Lights On (1982)

The look of this 1982 video mag­a­zine inter­view with Stephen King comes right out of a Lav­erne and Shirley episode, which makes it dou­bly charm­ing. Broad­cast at the time only in Ban­gor and Port­land, this Uni­ver­si­ty of Maine pro­duc­tion marks the first “up close and per­son­al” TV inter­view with King, who rep­re­sents one of the school’s “high achiev­ers,” many of whom Hen­ry Nevi­son inter­viewed for the local series. The inter­view takes place at King’s home in Ban­gor. Nevi­son describes the cir­cum­stances on his web­site:

At the time, King had just fin­ished writ­ing his nov­el “Chris­tine” and one year ear­li­er had starred in Creepshow, a campy hor­ror/s­ci-fi movie based on sev­er­al of his short­er sto­ries. Ini­tial­ly, I con­duct­ed a radio inter­view and we dis­cov­ered that we had a lot of sim­i­lar inter­ests, most impor­tant­ly the same warped sense of humor. He then agreed to an extend­ed “sit-down” tele­vi­sion inter­view, even though he had avoid­ed that con­cept up to this point. I think he did it because he knew it would be good for the uni­ver­si­ty.

In his video intro, Nevi­son points out that King had pub­lished most of the hor­ror nov­els that made his career—including Car­rie, The Dead Zone, The Shin­ing, The Stand, and Firestarter—and had already sold movie rights for those books. Which means he was a ver­i­ta­ble pop-lit super­star even at this ear­ly point in his career. Through a bushy beard the size of a small wood­chuck, King genial­ly opines on whether leav­ing the light on at night keeps the mon­sters away (“bot­tom line,” it does) and how he keeps the scares fresh after so many sto­ries and nov­els. We see him hunt and peck on an ancient, hulk­ing word proces­sor (per­haps com­pos­ing “Word Proces­sor of the Gods”) and look gen­er­al­ly creepy but good-natured.

King and Nevi­son spend most of the near­ly half-hour inter­view dis­cussing the dif­fer­ences between books and film (they’re “dia­met­ri­cal­ly opposed”). It’s a sub­ject King has returned to sev­er­al times over the years, often in com­plaint, vent­ing for exam­ple over Stan­ley Kubrick’s 1980 take on The Shin­ing. King gloss­es over his hatred of Kubrick’s film here, say­ing the book will out­live the movie (not like­ly, in this case). He also talks Hitch­cock, and we see clips from a fair­ly decent stu­dent film pro­duc­tion of his sto­ry “The Boogy­man.” Much of the cred­it for this engag­ing inter­view should go to Nevi­son, who does what a good inter­view­er should: keeps the con­ver­sa­tion going in new direc­tions with­out get­ting in the way of it. It’s vin­tage King and sets the tone for the hun­dreds of tele­vised inter­views to come.

via Net­work Awe­some

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Stephen King’s Top 20 Rules for Writ­ers

Stephen King Cre­ates a List of 96 Books for Aspir­ing Writ­ers to Read

Stephen King Reads from His Upcom­ing Sequel to The Shin­ing

Stan­ley Kubrick’s Anno­tat­ed Copy of Stephen King’s The Shin­ing

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness.

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