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Video: He’s the king of horror

TODAY
updated 1/22/2008 11:09:04 AM ET 2008-01-22T16:09:04

The prolific Stephen King returns with yet another thriller, “Duma Key, out now.” However, the busy writer still found time to answer TODAYshow.com readers’ burning questions.

The novel tells the story of Edgar Freemantle and his recovery from a terrible nightmare-inducing accident that stole his arm and ended his marriage. One reviewer promises it is truly as scary as anything King has ever written. Read an excerpt here.

Q: What are your five favorite books (other than yours!) of all time? — Melissa Trotta, Emerson, N.J. 

A: 1. “Lord of the Flies” (William Golding)
2. “1984” (George Orwell)
3. “A Soldier of the Great War” (Mark Helprin)
4. “Deliverance” (James Dickey)
5. “Bleak House” (Charles Dickens)

Q: What advice do you have for an aspiring writer who can't seem to write anything longer than a short story? — Robin-Lee Leslie, Texas

A: If you can't write anything longer than a short story, don't push it (or try to pad it). In writing as in sex, the best advice is to relax and let nature take her course.

Q: What's the scariest book you've ever read? Why was it so frightening? — Angie, Madison, Ala.

A: Really scary books (“The Exorcist” is a good example) succeed because we come to know and care about the characters. I like to say, “It's the PEOPLE, stupid” — NOT the monsters!

Q: Which of your stories is your favorite and why? — Crystal J. Cox, Baltimore, Md.

A: Of my own stories, I like “Children of the Corn,” because I think it's suspenseful; “Quitters, Inc.” because it still feels like a new idea (what would happen if the Mafia ran a quit-smoking clinic) and “The Reach,” because it reminds me of all the people I knew while growing up in Maine.

Q: With the wealth of wonderful books that you have written, are there any favorite characters or novels that you wish to return to with a sequel? — Larry Fire, Vancouver, Wash.

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A: I don't “do” sequels, but if I did, I think I'd go back to “Stand”-land and check in on Stu Redman and Frannie Goldsmith.

Q: What is your favorite movie adaptation from your novels or short stories? –Melissa, Emerson, N.J.

A: I guess I must be easy. There are a lot of them I like. I like “Stand By Me” very much, I love “Shawshank Redemption” and I like “The Mist” that came out last year, because it was really hard-edged. It’s kind of a prequel to “Cloverfield.”

Q: Out of all your characters, which one has the most “you” in him? In other words, whose life could you step into with the most ease? –Kimberly, Orlando, Fla.

A: A lot of them feel like me because people have this idea that you’re doing this secret autobiographical thing, when really, my idea is just write what you know. So start at a place where you understand, and then you just go into the fiction from there. But if any of them are like me, it’s probably the boy Gordie who narrates “The Body,” which became “Stand By Me.”

Q: If, after your death, you knew that only one of your stories would be remembered, which one would you want it to be? –Randy, Mesa, Ariz.

A: There’s a story called “The Reach,” which really is the Maine that I grew up in and people that I know, so that’s the one.

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