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Stephen King now 'apologizing' for The Stand, talks his fictional quarantine picks

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May 6, 2020

Stephen King's The Stand is more relevant than ever, but that's not such a good thing for the literary master of horror. Virtually appearing on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, the celebrated author weighed in on the horror story (aka the coronavirus pandemic) we're all currently living through.

"I'm still apologizing for [The Stand] 40, 50 years later," King said of his novel, which involves a weaponized flu virus that accidentally gets loose and kills most of humanity. "People will come along and say through their little masks, 'I feel like I'm living in a Stephen King story.' My response is, 'I'm sorry for that.'"

Back in March, King downplayed the comparisons between COVID-19 and Captain Tripps (the nickname given to the government-created flu in his book). Now, it seems like he's a bit more frightened of the pathogen that's brought the world to a literal standstill.

"My fear about the coronavirus is that we may get things back to normal and then the virus mutates and it comes back, which leaves two possibilities," he continued on Colbert. "One is that it comes back much weaker, and it's not much of a problem, but the nightmare scenario, which of course is where my mind goes — I'm sorry, but it does — is that it comes back more lethal than ever."

Thanks for making us feel better, Mr. King.

Published in the late 1970s, The Stand was originally adapted into a television miniseries in 1994. The New Mutants director Josh Boone is working on a modern-day translation for CBS All Access.

Later in the Late Show interview, Colbert asked King which of his fictional characters he wouldn't want to be quarantined with. Annie Wilkes of Misery and Jack Torrance of The Shining both immediately came to mind, as the two characters (famously played by Kathy Bates and Jack Nicholson) are paradigms of how people can go utterly nuts when they're cooped up together.

"But I could be quarantined with Holly Gibney," King admitted. "She's got her OCD bells and whistles and ticks and tocks ... She's my favorite."

A quirky private investigator, Gibney first appeared in the author's Mr. Mercedes trilogy before branching out into a new investigation with 2018's The Outsider. She returns to track down shapeshifting, vampire-like entities in the eponymous novella of King's latest collection, If It Bleeds. The character was played by Cynthia Erivo in HBO's Outsider adaptation.


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