Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A UK haunted house for Stephen King?

I was poking around in the newspaper archives, and found this tantalizing little article in New Hampshire's Nashua Telegraph, back in late 1977.

According to the article, King had been on the lookout for a haunted house to rent in England. Also according to the article, he found a suitably spooky property in Fleet, a town in Hampshire, England. He planned to move house to the overseas location until he completed the novel that this setting was to inspire.

Who knows if this bit of haunted property ever gave King the inspiration to set ink to paper? Early in 1977, before placing the ad, King released one of his great haunted house (and haunted human) books, The Shining. It wasn't until 1998 that he released his next book that centered on a haunted property, the hair-raising Bag of Bones. However, it isn't England that serves as the setting for Bag of Bones -- it is squarely set in King's fictitious (but oh so real) town of Derry, and migrates up to the lumber and lake country of Maine (perhaps near his post-UK residence in the Kezar Lake country near Center Lovell, Maine).

Is there a tale locked in a trunk somewhere that shows the fruit borne of this overseas destination? Or is his short story "Crouch End" the only noticeable outcome of his UK rambles? The word is that instead of writing a haunted house opus, he found himself instead writing Cujo, and fortuitously meeting future collaborator Peter Straub to boot.

Cemetery Dance's website cites the move as the inspiration for a fragment published in their 2009 book of King's material Uncollected, Unpublished: "The attempted novel was the result of both the King family’s abortive move to England and a discussion between King and his editor of the time, Bill Thompson. The discussion revolved around the writing of a novel using the detective character, Lord Peter Wimsey, created by Dorothy L Sayers."

Not much of a subject for a haunted house setting, but perhaps we can blame King's publicist for the misdirection, or perhaps (like some of us) he simply prefers a haunted setting, no matter what he's trying to write.


Center Lovell has most recently been in the news because of the owner of a bed and breakfast who is running a contest to find the next owners of her Center Lovell Inn -- write your essay and enter, if you like! More info here: http://wincenterlovellinn.com/contest-rules-entry/ or read about it in the CNN article here: http://money.cnn.com/2015/03/13/news/center-lovell-inn-contest/

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