Stephen King has a new short story out, titled “Herman Wouk Is Still Alive,” which is featured in the current issue of The Atlantic. You can also read the story online, on the Atlantic website here: Herman Wouk Is Still Alive

But this post is about the accompanying interview with King. James Parker, who did the interview for The Atlantic, asks King about suggestibility and coincidence in the unfolding of story ideas. Here is King’s response:

I don’t think you can force it. I think that sometimes you have a certain … Well in this case I had a job to do. We made the bet and I wanted to come through with it, that’s the honorable thing to do. So I think that probably my unconscious was looking for something to pitch upon. That’s something that is almost accidental at the beginning of a career, but the more you write, the more trained you are to recognize the little signals. I’ll give you an example. The other day I went out to the mailbox at the end of the road and there was a flyer in there, one of these things where they give you coupons and you get a dollar off mouthwash or makeup or whatever, and on the back there’s a number of pictures of children, missing children. It says: “Have you seen me?” It’s just a sort of throwaway – you get it and you don’t really look at it. And I was looking at it on the walk back from the mailbox, and I thought: “What if there was a guy who got one of these and one of the pictures started to talk to him and say ‘I was killed and I’m buried here in this location or that location, in a gravel pit or stuffed into a culvert …'”? And I thought: “You know, a guy like that, who could find bodies, would be under a lot of suspicion from the police. And there’s a story there.”

Interested readers can catch the interview online in its entirety here: Stephen King on the Creative Process, the State of Fiction, and More

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