Neil Gaiman Talks 'The Shining' Sequel 'Dr. Sleep' with Stephen King; Learns Who Will Direct 'The Graveyard Book'

Neil Gaiman Talks 'The Shining' Sequel 'Dr. Sleep' with Stephen King; Learns Who Will Direct 'The Graveyard Book'

Apr 30, 2012

Graveyard Book cover artIt’s been a busy weekend for Neil Gaiman – the Sandman creator and beloved novelist not only unveiled a full-length version of his recent interview with horror icon Stephen King, but also learned who’s going to direct the Disney adaptation of his bestselling children’s title The Graveyard Book.

Gaiman was asked to interview King (who was first an inspiration, and later a friend, to the author) for the UK’s Sunday Times Magazine. The finished chat appeared online a few weeks ago, but since it’s shorter than Gaiman’s original version (and still locked away behind a pay-wall), the author decided to share the “director’s cut” of the chat on his blog.

Listening to Stephen King talk is always interesting – he’s not only a down-to-Earth guy who still seems bemused by his own success, but he’s also whip-smart, well-read, and completely in touch with popular culture – but it’s even moreso when the person asking the questions is someone King respects. Gaiman and King have a friendship spanning decades, and as such the interview reads more like a recorded conversation between two old friends than the typical question-and-answer segments you find in most magazines.

King and Gaiman discuss many interesting things – including King’s secret fear that one day he’d wake up and someone would come to take his magical life away from him – but the most interesting part has to do with King’s upcoming novel, Dr. Sleep.

A sequel to the classic haunted hotel novel The Shining, Dr. Sleep catches up with an adult Danny Torrance – who hasn’t had the best of lives after his experiences at the Overlook Hotel. King reveals a bit about what readers can expect in the new novel:

I wanted to write Dr Sleep because I wanted to see what would happen to Danny Torrence when he grew up. And I knew that he would be a drunk because his father was a drunk. One of the holes it seemed to me in The Shining is that Jack Torrance was this white-knuckle dry drunk who never tried one of the self-help groups, the like Alcoholics Anonymous. I thought, okay, I'll start with Danny Torrance at age forty. He is going to be one of those people who says 'I am never going to be like my father, I am never going to be abusive like my father was'. Then you wake up at 37 or 38 and you're a drunk. Then I thought, what kind of a life does that person like that have? He'll do a bunch of low-bottom jobs, he'll get canned, and now he works in a hospice as a janitor. I really want him to be in a hospice worker because he has the shining and he can help people get across as they die. They call him Dr Sleep, and they know to call for him when the cat goes into their room and sits on their bed. This was writing about guy who rides the bus, and he's eating in a McDonalds, or on a special night out maybe Red Lobster. We are not talking about a guy who goes to Sardi's.

When asked why he’d return to write a sequel to one of his most beloved stories all these years later, King tells Gaiman:

I did it because it was such a cheesed-off thing to do. To say you were going back to the book that was really popular and write the sequel People think of that book, they read it as kids. Kids read it and say it was a really scary book, and then as adults they might read the sequel and think, this isn’t as good. The challenge is, maybe it can be as good - or maybe it can be different. It gives you something to push up against. It's a challenge.

We’ll find out of the risk pays off when Dr. Sleep presumably releases later this year. Until then, check out more of the interview on Gaiman’s blog.

In more film-related happenings, Deadline has learned that director Henry Selick (James and the Giant Peach) is now attached to Disney’s feature-length adaptation of Gaiman’s novel The Graveyard Book. Color us officially intrigued.

Selick, who is currently at work on a secret project for Disney’s Pixar studio, will continue to work on that film, then will tackle Gaiman’s story of a boy who lives in a graveyard and is raised by ghosts. It’s best described as a riff on Kipling’s The Jungle Book.

The reuniting of Gaiman and Selick should make fans happy. The duo previously collaborated on Coraline. With a director now onboard, the hunt for a screenwriter begins in earnest. 

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