In 1962, future Pulitzer Prize–winning author Alex Haley sat down with jazz musician Miles Davis for what would become an institution of American journalism—the Playboy Interview. To celebrate the Interview’s 50th anniversary, Playboy has culled 50 of its most (in)famous Interviews and will publish them over the course of 50 weekdays (from September 4, 2012 to November 12, 2012) via Amazon’s Kindle Direct platform. Here, a glimpse at our conversation with horror author Stephen King from the June 1983 issue.
“I don’t think there’s anything sweeter on God’s green earth than scaring the living shit out of people.”
“Writing is necessary for my sanity. As a writer, I can externalize my fears and insecurities and night terrors on paper, which is what people pay shrinks a small fortune to do. In my case, they pay me for psychoanalyzing myself in print. And in the process, I’m able to ‘write myself sane,’ as that fine poet Anne Sexton put it.”
“Some people seem convinced that I see horror as nothing more than a formula for commercial success, a money machine whose handle I’m going to keep pulling for the rest of my life, while others suspect that the minute my bank balance reaches the right critical mass, I’m going to put all that childish nonsense behind me and try to write this generation’s answer to Brideshead Revisited. But the fact is that money really has nothing to do with it one way or the other. I love writing the things I write, and I wouldn’t and couldn’t do anything else.”
“I think there are two basic problems with the movie. First, Kubrick is a very cold man—pragmatic and rational—and he had great difficulty conceiving, even academically, of a supernatural world. He used to make transatlantic calls to me from England at odd hours of the day and night, and I remember once he rang up at seven in the morning and asked, ‘Do you believe in God?’ I wiped the shaving cream away from my mouth, thought a minute and said, ‘Yeah, I think so.’ Kubrick replied, ‘No, I don’t think there is a God,’ and hung up. Not that religion has to be involved in horror, but a visceral skeptic such as Kubrick just couldn’t grasp the sheer inhuman evil of the Overlook Hotel. So he looked, instead, for evil in the characters and made the film into a domestic tragedy with only vaguely supernatural overtones. That was the basic flaw: Because he couldn’t believe, he couldn’t make the film believable to others.”
“I won’t sleep without a light on in the room and, needless to say, I’m very careful to see that the blankets are tucked tight under my legs so I won’t wake up in the middle of the night with a clammy hand clutching my ankle.”
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*Or read the interview with access to all Playboy interviews on iPlayboy.*