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The king (pun intended) of literary horror just had his front lawn spruced up with a snazzy wooden sculpture resembling a fantastical bookshelf. Posting photos on Twitter, author Stephen King revealed that his wife, Tabitha, decided to transform a dead and withered ash tree into "a sculpture featuring books and animals."
Work on the carving, which took a little over a month to complete, was done with a chainsaw by Josh Landry, an accomplished wood sculptor based in Maine. While he's used to carving images of the state's natural wildlife, it was something else entirely to collaborate on a project with the King household. The final result is a intricately detailed piece of art that feels like a natural and real-world extension of Mr. King's famously gothic imagination.
"It was pretty cool to work at the home of the man responsible for many nightmares when I was a kid," Landry exclusively tells SYFY WIRE. "It was just a really unique, exciting piece to work on.”
The idea for a sculpture began to take shape when the Kings' ash tree was cut down several years ago. Feeling a sentimental connection to it, Tabitha got in touch with Landry.
"They really hated to see the tree go, it was very special to them," he says. "But it was to the point where it was gonna be a potential hazard, so it needed to come down. She wanted to keep a chunk of the stump and preserve it by having it carved [so] she went online and searched and really liked my work. [She] just gave me her ideas and then I added a few of my ideas, and we went from there."
In addition to owls, birds, cats, and frogs, the piece also features a wooden Corgi. This is most likely a nod to King's own Corgi, Molly, whom he often refers to as the "Thing of Evil" on social media.
"That was definitely an inspiration," Landry says. "They have Corgis, so I’m leaving it up [to interpretation]. A lot of people think it’s Molly, a lot of people think it’s their other Corgi. Whatever they feel, that’s up to them, but it was definitely inspired by the multiple Corgis that they have."
If you take a look at the back of the sculpture, you'll spy a dragon creeping out of the wood like a baby xenomorph making its grand entrance from John Hurt's ruptured chest in Alien.
"I had asked Tabitha because this was her piece and her doing. I said, ‘What would Stephen like on this thing?’ She had asked if I could do some dragon claws [or] dragon feet in the back," Landry explains. "And I said, ‘Well, I kind of have a cool idea for a dragon kind of ripping out of the tree.’ She had mentioned Stephen wrote the book Eyes of the Dragon ... It was exciting to be able to do that because I've never carved a dragon and I’ve always wanted to."
Published in 1984, The Eyes of the Dragon is King's contribution to the genre of high fantasy.
Stephen and Tabitha are currently in Florida, presumably sheltering in place amid the coronavirus pandemic. So far, they've only seen the finished piece in text messages from Tabitha's sister, but Landry, who can't wait until the couple get back home to Bangor, knows they'll be blown away once they see it in person.
"A picture doesn’t do it justice," he concludes.
King's latest book, If It Bleeds, goes on sale tomorrow from Scribner.