In life, sometimes you take journeys. Sometimes these are physical journeys (I have had a few myself).
Sometimes, there are other kinds of journeys as well…
Well, I am sure most of us (me included) don’t take a journey like that often
ever but that game last night sure was was ride, at any rate…whew! And this little old blog sends you love, Ser Peyton!
Or, if you are more like me, you take literary journeys. Oh, too nerdy for you! Well, sorry, guess someone forgot what blog this was again!
And I have traveled alone, and I have traveled with others. Now traveling alone is not a bad thing. But sometimes, having a companion has its advantages. A Sam Gamgee, maybe. Or if you are Peyton Manning, a Von Miller (and it doesn’t hurt to perhaps throw in a Chris Harris, or maybe an Aquib Talib or two, for that matter).
In other words, great journeys are not usually accomplished alone, whether they are to destroy a pesky ring, or to obtain a pesky second (Super Bowl) ring. Even this guy can testify to that!
Yes, you are definitely reading this blog and forgot to heed all the previous warnings!
Reading the Dark Tower series is a journey. And I have taken that journey on my own. And it was great, of course.
But I have taken it with friends, too.
Well, I wasn’t talking about these guys, per se. If I was relying on them for friendship, well that is a recipe for guaranteed heartbreak, and I will leave it at that.
Nor am I talking about the followers on my blog and social media account, who were with me every step of the way in my latest re-read and review of the entire series. I do appreciate
both all of you very much though, and much love to everyone!
Rather, I am talking about works such as this one:
And this one:
Well, they may be books, but to any Constant Reader who is also obsessed with the Dark Tower series, they are almost as invaluable as a Sam Gamgee or Vonn Miller. They aid in the journey, so that journey becomes that much richer. These books have also made me become a much better reader, as I have picked out some details I missed on previous re-reads, which made me feel like the kid who found the Easter Egg that everyone else missed because everyone else did not know where to look.
Recently, I have the please of talking to one of the creators of my companions, aka Bev Vincent. I was curious as to what goes on when creating works like these to aid in this journey that I have taken so many times. And Mr. Vincent was gracious enough to talk to me, and given me a little more insight into his work, the Stephen King universe in general and the world of our friendly neighborhood gunslinger. So, read below for the complete interview.
And, as always:
Please, tell us a little about yourself. This can be anything, including education, background, etc. Also, when did you first become a Stephen King fan and why?
I come from eastern Canada. I grew up in a small community in northern New Brunswick, where I lived until I was eighteen. I then went to Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where I studied chemistry. I got a B.Sc in 1983 and finished my PhD in X-ray crystallography in the fall of 1987. I did a postdoc at the ETH in Zurich and worked as a staff crystallographer until 1989, at which time I moved to Texas, where I’ve lived ever since.
I started writing seriously at the end of the previous millennium and it has been part of my daily routine ever since, although I still have a day job.
I discovered Stephen King when I was living in Halifax. I picked up a copy of ‘Salem’s Lot in a used bookstore and I’ve been hooked ever since. I sought out his other books (there weren’t many in 1979!) and have followed along with him for over 35 years. I read a lot, and far more than just King’s books, but he’s been one of the constants. I guess you could call me a Constant Reader.
What is your favorite Stephen King book, and why is it your favorite?
I have a hard time picking absolute favorites — I have affinities for certain books at different times for different reasons. I have a particular fondness for ‘Salem’s Lot because it was the first, the one that got me hooked. The book has a lot going for it, for a “second” novel (of course, we know it was not his second written book), and it stands up quite well.
Bag of Bones is one that would appear in my top five list. It was the first of his books that I read in first draft manuscript long before it was published. That was a fascinating experience, and I especially appreciated the way he subsequently rewrote the book, layering in things that weren’t present in the first draft.
I used to like to tell people about The Gunslinger for a long time, when people didn’t know much about it. It was my entry point into the Dark Tower series, but for a long time it was the only book in the series for me. I loved its mood. I had no idea where the series was headed — or even that it was headed somewhere, but I reread that one a number of times. I could list others that are high on my list. But I’d have an easier time picking my two least favorites. No trouble there at all!
Oh, what is your least favorite SK book?
I have two: Needful Things and The Tommyknockers. I didn’t like any of the characters in the former and I liked Bobbi and Gard a lot in the latter and hated that King abandoned them for a huge chunk of the book when all I wanted to do was to get back and find out how they were doing.
I am really excited about the upcoming Hulu adaptation for 11/22/63, and I have high hopes for the series. However, I know that movie adaptations of King’s books are mixed, at best. Some work, some don’t. Out of all the King movies, which one do you feel works the best, and why? Which one do you think does not work, and why?
I’ve already seen the entire miniseries of 11.22.63 and I think people are going to like it a lot. It is significantly different from the novel in many ways, yet it captures the sense of the book perfectly. The actress who plays Sadie is wonderful and it is her more than James Franco who gives this adaptation its heart. The production values are extremely high and the cast is terrific.
I’ve never been someone who saw the adaptation as a necessary part of the life cycle of a book. Slavish adaptations aren’t always the best. The problem with Dreamcatcher, in my opinion, is that it tried to cram too much of a very big book into the movie, which made it almost incomprehensible to people to people unfamiliar with the novel.
On the other hand, the adaptation of Dolores Claiborne took significant liberties with the book, deleting characters, changing the emphasis on others, but it absolutely captured the novel.
A lot of the adaptations are forgettable or laughable. I have no use for The Mangler or Children of the Corn (I through XII) or any number of other B grade films.
I did like The Mist, despite the controversial change to the story–and I was thrilled to get to visit the set during production.
I also visited (the set of) Haven for a day with my daughter, which was great fun. There’s a case of an adaptation that took a core idea and then ran off in a vastly different direction from the source. The same people did the same thing with The Dead Zone TV series.
There are some great ones — Shawshank, Stand By Me — and some surprisingly effective ones, like 1408 — and a whole lot of turkeys.
I have read your book, The Dark Tower Companion, and wow! Can you tell us how this book came to be, and exactly what went in to writing it and putting it together?
I previously wrote The Road to the Dark Tower around the time King was finishing up the last three books in the series. People had frequently asked me when I was going to write a book about King and his work, but I had resisted the idea because it seemed like such a huge project.
Then when I heard that King was going to write the final three Dark Tower books all at once, I had the idea that I could explore the series and, in doing so, say something about all of King’s work in general. King gave me the manuscripts for the final books a couple of years before they were published, which allowed me to have my book ready around the same time as Book 7 was published.
The Road to the Dark Tower was written for people who had already read the entire series and wanted to revisit it with me. I would be the tour guide, and I would point out the things I had noticed while reading and rereading and studying the series.
Then, a number of years later, the first serious indications that there would be a film adaptation emerged, with Ron Howard and Akiva Goldsman. I thought it was time to update my book with all the things that had happened in the Dark Tower Universe since my first book was published. However, my publisher suggested that I do a new book, completely different from the first. So, The Dark Tower Companion was written for people who haven’t necessarily read the series. I thought there would be people who came to the Dark Tower via the movies or the Marvel graphic novels. People who might want to know more about something — a reference book. I had to read the series several times for each book, with different things in mind on each reading. My copies are marked up with so many different colored highlighters that they look like the Bends o’ the Rainbow!
I especially enjoyed getting to interview all these great people for the book, from King himself to Ron Howard (from the set of RUSH) and Akiva Goldsman, and then all of the creative people involved in the Marvel series. That was a series of terrific experiences. I also had a great time coming up with the two maps — the one that showed the known region of Mid-World, especially when certain details came together, and the one of the Dark Tower locations in Manhattan.
It looks like we may finally get our Dark Tower movie(s). I know that if Roland doesn’t do the finger twirl in the movie, I will not watch it…at all! (Joking, joking.) All kidding aside, what do you need to see in the movie(s) from the books (since we all know that there will be changes, which are necessary) to make sure that the movie does not stray too far from the source material?
I’m open to a complete re-imagination of the series. If you’ve read my interviews with Howard and Goldsman, you’ll see that their ideas for the first movie are quite radical, and I was fine with that. I’m also fine with possibly having Idris Elba as Roland — in fact, I think that would be terrific.
A movie isn’t made first and foremost for the readers of the source material, I believe. They are made for a movie-going audience, so a lot of accommodations have to be made, and can be made.
Some people have suggested that the movies should feature Roland’s NEXT version of his quest, the one where he starts of with the Horn of Eld. To my mind, that means that anything could happen. Anything. If Roland is a different person (arguably a slightly better one), then maybe he needs different companions to get the job done. I’m not saying I want to see that happen, but once that suggestion is made, it shows that people are open to change.
I don’t know if the movie can work if it is too literal an adaptation. A lot of people were upset by how the series ended on the page — can you imagine going to see a handful of movies over a span of years only to end up back at the beginning again?
I’m perfectly content for them to do whatever they see fit with the adaptation. There are some pretty smart people in the movie business. And if they end up making a hash of it, oh well.
So many thanks to Bev Vincent for this interview. And remember, if you need a companion to help guide you on the Path of the Beam, whether it be be your first journey or your 19th journey, please check out The Road to the Dark Tower, The Dark Tower Companion and Stephen King’s The Dark Tower: A Complete Concordance (written by the lovely Robin Furth). These
friends works are available wherever books are sold.
And, as always, happy reading!