The Early Readers Club Talks To The Man Stephen King Asked To Fact-Check His Latest Novel: “Doctor Sleep”

Screen Shot 2013-09-17 at 1.06.14 PMThe Early Readers Club is a unique opportunity for bestselling and acclaimed authors to share inside information about their latest releases while also giving some lucky readers a chance to win free copies.  Members will be the first to know about exclusive interviews, sneak peeks at artwork and excerpts, and other special features.

Recently the Early Readers Club spoke to Rocky Wood.  Who is you ask?  Oh he is just the guy that Stephen King asked to fact-check his new sequel to The Shining, “Doctor Sleep.”  Rocky is an authority on Stephen’s work and has written 3 books about King’s work: Stephen King: A Literary Companion, Stephen King: Uncollected, Unpublished, and Stephen King: The Non-Fiction. 

Here is their interview with Rocky and then find out how you can win a copy of Stephen King’s latest….”Doctor Sleep.”

Q: Stephen King has mentioned that fans were often asking, “Hey, any idea what happened to the kid from The Shining?” Were you one of them?

The-Shining-novel-picture1ROCKY: I’m always interested any time Steve updates us on characters from previous books. Of course, this is a full scale book sized update but even simple things like learning what happened to Alan Pangborn excites me. Constant Readers will know Pangborn is the Sheriff of Castle Rock in ‘The Sun Dog’, ‘The Dark Half’, ‘Gerald’s Game’ and ‘Needful Things’. In ‘Bag of Bones’ we learn he has married and moved to New Hampshire. When readers are invested in characters the way King’s fans are it is natural to want more of them – Roland Deschain (The Dark Tower Cycle) in particular. But who doesn’t wonder whether Pennywise actually does ‘live’ on (as hinted in ‘Dreamcatcher’) or whether the members of the Losers Club had to gather one more time? One couple I always wonder about is Stu Redman and Frannie Goldsmith, who after the defeat of Randall Flagg, headed east, intending to settle in Maine. What life did they build in a depopulated New England (if they made it that far). And Frannie was pregnant …

Where does The Shining rank on your list of best King novels of all time?

ROCKY: Certainly in the Top Five, along with ‘The Stand’, ‘It’, ‘The Dark Tower’ (the eight novels are really one tale) and ‘Bag of Bones’. ‘The Shining’ is a true horror classic that will be read and taught a hundred years from now. Just as ‘Salem’s Lot’ is one of the great American vampire novels, ‘The Shining’ is one of the great American haunted place novels. So many people remember ‘The Shining’ from Kubrick’s movie which, while a great movie, totally misrepresents the book. Readers should go back and re-read ‘The Shining’ (for some, it will be their first time) and they’ll appreciate the depths of layers, the slow disintegration of a man who battles his inner demons, glorious structure and genuine terror King generates – that’s before I even mention the magnificent characters. And right now it would be the perfect warm-up for ‘Doctor Sleep’.

Screen Shot 2013-09-17 at 1.09.32 PMHow did you end up fact checking Doctor Sleep?

ROCKY: King’s personal assistant Marsha DeFilippo contacted me in early 2011 with Steve’s request – was I was interested in assisting him with the book? It took me about a nanosecond to reply yes! Steve has been aware of my data collection on his work since at least 2002 and the office had used some of my material (compiled with David Rawsthorne and Norma Blackburn) for many years. In fact, most of the Character Lists on come from our material. Shortly after being approached I was in Boston for lunch with Marsha and some good friends from the King community and there she handed me the initial chapters of ‘Doctor Sleep’.

B-81-363-34 Sitting at Desk with hands coming towards the cameraWhat kind of facts were you checking?

ROCKY: The main job was to check continuity with ‘The Shining’ – to ensure that any references to characters, events, places and so on in ‘Doctor Sleep’ matched the established ‘facts’ from ‘The Shining’. This was a painstaking process – it meant in particular that things like Danny’s age (which is generally, but not specifically, established in the original novel) was carried through correctly to the sequel. Danny remembers events from his life at the Overlook and each small detail of those memories had to be checked. Without giving any spoilers ‘Doctor Sleep’ updates certain characters and places referred to in ‘The Shining’, so I had to ensure there was no inadvertent error there either. This involved not only my databases but a close re-reading of certain sections of the original novel. Steve also refers to these events in ‘Misery’, so even those mentions needed to be kept in mind.-the-Shining-Danny

The original brief ended up expanding somewhat into some general checking of internal continuity and some fact checking of ‘Doctor Sleep’ itself. But you have to remember this work was being done on Steve’s first draft, and later on the second draft. You can’t call anything I found an error as it was clear to me Steve was ‘writing’, ie creating the tale, his aim in doing so wasn’t to get tied up in whether Dick Hallorann had teeth or dentures!

Did King ask you to find information about recreational vehicles for the book or was that information you volunteered?

ROCKY: The RV stuff was part of the original brief from Steve. Before the book is published we already know there is a group of emotional vampires stalking the countryside. They call themselves ‘The True Knot’ and they travel and live in RVs. We learn about this in the novel in two different timelines, so I needed to provide Steve with a list of RVs from these two different time periods. They needed to vary in size and appearance because different numbers of The True Knot live in each one, and because they travel incognito and wouldn’t make the mistake of owning the same model and make.

doctor-sleep_fade-awayWithout spoiling anything, what did you think of Doctor Sleep?

ROCKY: It’s a very emotional ride – be prepared to be fearful, horrified, to laugh, and to cry. Steve’s rendition of Dan Torrance the adult is complete – we really understand him and how he has become the man he is. The villain is one of the most terrifying, awful creatures King has ever created – in fact in the whole of horror fiction – and all too real in her motivations and actions. With Abra Stone King again introduces a young character that we believe instantly – that old trick of his of putting us back in our own youth. ‘Doctor Sleep’ is certainly a character driven novel – the events arise entirely from the decisions of the characters. It’s also a thrilling ride – a real page-turner, I think most readers will find it hard to put down. As a sequel to ‘The Shining’ it delivers in the obvious way – letting us into Dan Torrance’s adult life; but also in some other subtle and surprising ways.

In his afterword to Doctor Sleep, King says readers should look you up on the web because you’ve “got it going on.” Where should readers look for you?

ROCKY: That was kind of Steve. I can be found at, where all my books about King and his works are gathered under one tab.

Doctor-Sleep_limitedThe Early Readers Club has made winning a copy of Doctor Sleep relatively easy. To be entered into the drawing, all you have to do is share any of the posts about Doctor Sleep from their website using the “Share This” feature below each post. As a bonus, you can also comment on each post for a free entry. Simply tell them what you think of the post or why you’re excited about Doctor Sleep and you’ll be entered.

Head over to their website HERE and follow them on TWITTER and FACEBOOK.


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2 Responses to The Early Readers Club Talks To The Man Stephen King Asked To Fact-Check His Latest Novel: “Doctor Sleep”

  1. IzaakMak says:

    Oh, so very cool! 😀


  2. Pingback: Long Live The King! – Part 2 | I Want Ice Water!

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