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SYFY WIRE The Dark Tower

Stephen King explains he'll never truly be done with 'The Dark Tower,' teases new Holly Gibney novel

On a new episode of The Kingcast, the horror master explained his relationship to his magnum opus.

By Matthew Jackson
Stephen King

Stephen King's bibliography is vast, but even among all of his other mammoth works, The Dark Tower stands alone as his grandest narrative achievement.

The epic saga of a lone gunslinger and his quest to save the title structure, a nexus point for all of existence, took King decades to complete, but even when he wasn't writing about the Tower specifically, he was weaving its magic into other work. Dozens of King works contain references and narrative connections to The Dark Tower, and King himself has always been open about the particular, personal power the story holds over him as a creator. With that in mind, as well as King's own references to side stories in the saga he never wrote, many King fans have long asked: Is The Dark Tower truly done? 

King got that question directly this week when he stopped by The Kingcast for a wide-ranging hourlong chat about his work, and answered this way:

"I don't know how much more time I have actually to write," he said. "You take it day by day, but everything, in a way, is about The Dark Tower."

The question of whether or not King can ever consider the Tower saga truly finished was prompted by Gwendy's Final Task, the latest in a series of novellas by King and Richard Chizmar, which wove Dark Tower connections directly into its plot. King was as surprised as anyone that the story ended up going that way, but also noted that even when he's actually trying to steer clear of Tower, it often asserts itself into his writing.

"It was great to get back and discover the Tower was still at risk and those other worlds exist," King said of Gwendy's Final Task. "I've got another book coming in the fall called Fairy Tale, and that is also about another world, but I tried to keep it as separate from the world of Gilead and all the associated places…as possible. And even then, it crept in a little bit. It always creeps in."

The whole discussion served as a reminder of one of the most fascinating aspects of King's fiction: His willingness to carry characters and ideas with him even after it seems their stories might be done, often because he's simply surprised and delighted that they live on in his imagination. By way of illustrating that point, King also revealed that one of his upcoming books will be a solo novel starring Holly Gibney, a character King readers will know from his Mr. Mercedes trilogy of mystery novels, as well as the novel The Outsider and its novella sequel, If It Bleeds

"I could never let Holly Gibney go," King said. "She was supposed to be a walk-on character, and she just kind of stole the book and stole my heart. And so I just finished a novel that's called Holly, and it's all her. So, when you say 'Are you done with The Dark Tower?' No, not until I'm dead, and maybe not then."

So there you have it, Constant Readers. Like Roland himself, King feels the Tower looming somewhere on the horizon, even if that means he'll never pay it another direct visit in his fiction.